Regional Office closed due to hurricane. Law enforcement activities, including significant hurricane response, conducted, but not enumerated in this report.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Investigator McMillan and Officer Dasher were patrolling in a rural area when they saw a vehicle traveling towards their location and heard a shot fired from the vehicle. They stopped the vehicle and found three subjects inside as well as a .22 caliber rifle and a .32 caliber pistol. When questioned, the subjects admitted post-Miranda to shooting at two different deer with the rifle and one deer with the pistol while the deer were illuminated by the vehicle’s headlights. Two of the subjects were cited for attempting to take deer at night by use of gun and light and for shooting from a public road.
Officers Albritton and Wilder received an anonymous complaint that a subject had killed and cleaned an alligator illegally and was storing it in a cooler inside their residence. They arrived at the suspects’ residence and after an extensive investigation, the two subjects admitted to killing an alligator the night before with a .22 caliber rifle and cleaning it. The officers recovered the alligator meat, carcass and rifle. The appropriate criminal citations were issued.
Investigator McMillan was conducting proactive patrols targeting unlawful night hunting activities. From a concealed location, he saw a vehicle near his location slow down and fire a firearm from the vehicle. Upon stopping the vehicle, he saw two subjects inside the truck as well as a .22 caliber rifle. The subjects admitted post-Miranda to shooting at a doe deer while it was illuminated in the headlights. The two subjects were cited for attempting to take deer at night by use of gun and light and for shooting from a public road.
Officer Albritton was working a night hunting detail and saw a vehicle drive by his location several times. He heard two gunshots come from the vehicle as it slowed down on the roadway. After initiating a traffic stop, Officer Albritton found three subjects in the truck with a shotgun and a dead 7-point buck deer in the bed of the truck. During interviews, it was determined that the individuals killed the 7-point buck while night hunting earlier in the night. They tried to kill another deer on the side of the road where Officer Albritton had been watching some deer most of the night. The deer and shotgun were seized as evidence and all three subjects were booked into the Taylor County Jail.
Officers Boone and Allen, while on foot patrol in Steinhatchee Springs Wildlife Management Area, discovered several baited deer stands before the beginning of archery season. On the opening day of archery season, both officers returned to the baited sites and apprehended two individuals. Both were hunting by illegal method, using a crossbow and hunting over bait in a wildlife management area. Further investigation also revealed that another subject was also identified and cited for placing bait on the ground of a wildlife management area. A total of five misdemeanor charges will be filed for placing bait in a wildlife management area, attempting to take deer by illegal method and hunting over bait.
Officer Boone, while patrolling along the Suwannee River, discovered a parked vehicle by the edge of the woods. This was a closed area, so Officer Boone began to track the foot sign leading away from the vehicle. After a short time, Officer Boone saw a subject dragging a seven-point buck toward the parked vehicle. Further investigation revealed that the subject had shot the buck from the roadway with a shotgun and had returned to collect his kill. The subject was cited for taking deer by unlawful method and shooting from a public roadway.
Investigator Bing and Officer Boone responded to a tree stand fall which occurred in Mallory Swamp WMA. The subject was climbing up a pine tree to bow-hunt from his latch-on style tree stand, when he lost his footing and fell, with his leg hitting one of the footsteps. The subject was able to regain control while in the tree and remove the peg from his leg. He contacted 911. Medical personnel had to cross two canals to reach him and render aid. The incident is being investigated.
Officers Ransom and Cline, while patrolling Twin Rivers Wildlife Management Area, received information about a stolen deer stand. After investigating the limited hunt roster and game camera images provided, a suspect was identified. Further investigation revealed that the subject was still in possession of the deer stand and admitted to taking the stand. It was also discovered that the subject had killed a deer and did not check in with the check station, attempting to evade the bag limit requirement. The appropriate citations were issued for petit theft and failure to check in taken game.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
Lieutenant Humphries and Officer Ransom, along with the FWC’s North Central Region Dive Team, responded to a drowning in the Suwannee River at Anderson Springs. Working closely with Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Dive Team by providing vessel support along with sonar imaging, the missing subject was located, and the family was notified.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Mandrick conducted a public outreach for Beaches Chapel Preschool. He spoke to approximately 30 children and 10 teachers. They all enjoyed learning about boating safety, resource protection and the daily job of a FWC officer.
Lieutenant Dickson, Officer Ward, and Office Cheshire responded to the Putnam/Volusia line in Seville about an escaped prisoner. The subject escaped from the back of a patrol car after being arrested for several felony warrants. FWC units helped secure the perimeter.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY
Officer David Ramsey saw two gator trappers in a vessel working a spotlight in a creek. They had Clay County permits and were three miles up Six Mile Creek in St. Johns County. Officer Ramsey issued the appropriate citations for the violations.
Officers Wingard and Malicoat conducted a vessel inspection on a boat that had returned from fishing in the Ormond Beach area. When asked, both subjects stated that they had not caught any fish. A check of the vessel revealed they had harvested snook, black drum and sheepshead. Further investigation resulted in locating 25 snook that were not within the legal slot size limit and three sheepshead that were not the legal size to possess. All fish were harvested with a cast net by both individuals. Both received criminal notices to appear for the snook and sheepshead violation(s) in addition to the major violation charge for the amount of illegally harvested snook.
FWC officers and investigators responded to a call for assistance from Volusia County Sheriff Office about a missing boater on Lake Monroe. Three FWC vessels were deployed for the search effort. The missing boater was found deceased on the lake. The incident is under investigation as a boating accident by FWC investigations.
Officer Goodreau was checking fishermen and approached an adult male who was loading his cooler into his truck. After telling the officer he only caught catfish, a redfish was located, and he was issued the criminal notice to appear for it being larger than the legal slot size limit. At another boat ramp, he checked two adult males returning from a fishing trip. Both said they only dipped some blue crabs. Officer Goodreau located another container with 84 stone crab claws. Both were issued the criminal notice to appear for possession of stone crab claws out season.
Officers Rice and Simpson were checking an area in the Ocala Wildlife Management Area (WMA) where a subject was hunting earlier in the morning. The officers followed tire sign down a closed road and located drag sign and blood, where it appeared something was killed and loaded in a truck. K-9 Moose was deployed on the fresh blood and led the officers down a trail through the woods. K-9 Moose tracked along the fresh blood and drag sign and eventually ended at a climbing tree stand. The officers confirmed at local check stations that nothing was checked in for that day. Officers Rice and Simpson located the suspect’s truck at a residence with fresh blood on the tailgate and bumper. After contacting the suspect, the officers located a cooler with fresh deer meat in the bed of the truck. During an interview with the suspect, he admitted to killing a buck with antlers measuring 5½ inches. Also, in the cooler was a doe that the suspect killed in Missouri. Officer Rice issued the suspect notices to appear for the antler restriction violation, failing to check the deer in at a designated check station, and for the chronic wasting disease violation (CWD).
Officers Teal and Phillips were dispatched to a residence where the Mascotte Police Department contacted a subject keeping gopher tortoises in his residence. Upon arrival, the officers saw a large gopher tortoise in the yard. The subject stated he had found the tortoise and was going to turn it loose down the road. He also had a gopher tortoise in a container in the house. The gopher tortoises were released, and the subject was cited appropriately.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
Lieutenant Dickson and Officers Cheshire, Wester, Campbell, Chriest and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office responded to an overdue vessel call on the St. Johns River south of Palatka. The vessel was supposed to return at dark and had not been heard from as of 11:00 PM. The vessel and both occupants were found safe a short time later.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Port K9 Officer Sidor, K9 Harry and Port Investigator Wayne conducted a demonstration for Manatee Elementary School second grade students in Viera. There were five classes of approximately 100 students in attendance.
Officer Smith received a complaint of several subjects harvesting saw palmetto berries on the Lake Wales Ridge National Refuge (WMA). After arriving on scene and locating a pick-up truck backed up to a locked gate on the Lake Wales Ridge WMA, Officer Smith noticed subjects loading several large bags over the locked gate and into the back of the truck. Officer Smith conducted a resource traffic stop. He could see that there was a lot of movement within the vehicle. Before he got out of his patrol truck, a subject exited the driver’s door of the stopped vehicle and slowly walked around the front of the truck towards an orange grove. Officer Smith instructed the subject to return to his vehicle. The subject took off running into the orange grove. Officer Smith requested dispatch contact Highlands County Sheriff’s Office and ask for assistance from their K-9 unit. The four remaining subjects in the vehicle were detained and had no identification. Officer Smith conducted a Rapid ID fingerprint scan on each subject for wants and warrants which returned negative. Highlands County K-9 arrived on scene and started tracking the escaped subject through the orange grove. The Highlands County K-9 unit located the subject approximately 4.5 miles away. Each subject in the vehicle received a notice to appear for possession of saw palmetto berries without proper permit and harvesting saw palmetto berries on a WMA. The fleeing subject was transported to Highlands County Jail and cited for possession of saw palmetto berries without proper permit, harvesting saw palmetto berries on a WMA and resisting arrest without violence.
Officer Winton was on patrol in Lehigh Acres when he saw a subject fishing from the shoreline along a canal. Officer Winton stopped the subject to conduct a resource inspection, at which time the subject initially denied catching anything. Upon further investigation, three softshell turtles were in a sack inside the subject’s vehicle. Since the daily bag limit for freshwater turtles is one per person, the subject was two turtles over the bag limit. Additionally, a records check revealed the subject had been cited for violating freshwater turtle regulations only four months prior to the date of this officer’s inspection. The subject was issued a notice to appear for the violation and the two additional turtles were released alive back into their habitat.
Officer Winton was on offshore patrol off the coast of Captiva when he saw a fishing vessel returning from offshore waters. A vessel stop was conducted, at which time the occupants were found to be in possession of five undersized tripletail. The captain admitted to keeping the fish. The captain was issued a notice to appear for the violations.
Officer Winton and Lieutenant Spoede were on vessel patrol near Fort Myers Beach when they saw a subject filleting fish next to a docked charter vessel. The officers conducted a resource inspection and discovered an undersized red grouper. Officer Winton recognized the captain as a subject he had cited several months prior for additional violations pertaining to reef fish. The captain was issued a notice to appear for the violation and the grouper was seized as evidence.
The Southwest DIVE Team and the South A DIVE team assisted FDLE with the investigation of a possible homicide that occurred in Dinner Island WMA in Hendry County. Dives were conducted in the drainage canals and ponds surrounding the possible homicide location. The deceased victim was recovered by divers. The investigation is ongoing.
Officer Miller was on land patrol in the area of the Green Bridge Fishing Pier in Manatee County. While on patrol, he performed a fisheries inspection on an individual fishing from the pier. Officer Miller discovered that the subject had caught one undersized snook during closed season. The subject was cited criminally for his violations and will have to appear in court.
Officer Klobuchar was on water patrol in the Manatee River near the S.R. 64 Bridge. He stopped and performed a fisheries and boating safety inspection on a vessel near the bridge. During the inspection, Officer Klobuchar found that the subject had caught and kept undersized black drum, mangrove snapper and sheepshead. The subject was issued two warnings for the sheepshead and mangrove snapper and was given a criminal citation for the black drum. The subject will have to appear in court for his violation.
Officers Sierra, Furbay, Price and Canamero completed a two-week Basic S.W.A.T School hosted by Pasco County Sheriff’s Department. This is the second group of South West Special Operation Group (SOG) members that have gone through this school. Once again, the South West SOG team impressed the trainers at the school and the FWC officers all received positive feedback from the leadership staff at the sheriff’s department. Officer Furbay received the prestigious physical fitness award and had the fastest time on the obstacle course for the class. The FWC congratulates the four officers for their hard work, dedication and sacrifice they put into completing this school.
Officer Specialist Bibeau saw an individual actively fishing from the shoreline with a cast net. He watched from a concealed location and saw the individual catch multiple fish with a cast net and place them in a nearby container. He contacted the subject to conduct a fisheries inspection and found the subject to be in possession of forty-one mangrove snapper. The individual said that he was commercially fishing. Officer Specialist Bibeau measured the snapper and found that twenty-nine were under the minimum commercial size limit of twelve-inches. Officer Specialist Bibeau wrote the subject two misdemeanor citations for harvesting mangrove snapper with the use of a cast net and possession of undersized mangrove snapper.
Officer Adams and Lieutenant Fugate were patrolling on Arbuckle WMA and saw a small van traveling through the area. The van was occupied by two adults and a small child. Officer Adams stopped the vehicle and asked the driver if they had paid the required day use fee prior to entering the area. Both adults stated that they had not paid. A computer inquiry through dispatch revealed that the driver of the vehicle had a suspended driver’s license – his second offense. The adult female passenger provided Officer Adams and Lieutenant Fugate with false information regarding her identity; however, her true name and date of birth was later obtained. She had an active warrant in Brevard county. Both subjects were taken into custody and booked into the Polk County Jail. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) was contacted and the child was released into the custody of family friends.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROLS
Officer Winton and Officer Hazelwood conducted a directed conservation patrol detail relating to speed enforcement in panther protection zones. During their patrols, the officers issued ten uniform traffic citations and twenty-six written warnings. Motorists were educated about speeding and its effect on wildlife. The highest speed recorded was seventy-eight miles per hour in a forty-five mile per hour zone.
SOUTH REGION A
Lieutenant Brown, Officers Nasworth and Dial were on water patrol when they saw two vessels actively alligator hunting. They conducted a vessel stop for a resource inspection. Officer Nasworth contacted the occupants of the first vessel and discovered that they had a Lake Okeechobee West permit for alligator hunting and were hunting outside of their assigned area. Officer Nasworth also discovered that one occupant did not have an agent trapping license. Officer Dial contacted the second vessel and discovered them to be assisting the first vessel. Officer Nasworth cited the permit holder on the first vessel for hunting out of assigned harvest area and issued a warning to the occupant for having no alligator agent trapping license. Officer Dial cited the operators of both vessels for operating without navigation lights.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
While assisting Miami FWC Officers with high activity around the Haulover Inlet on Columbus Day weekend, Officer Norbrothen saw a vessel operating in violation of a slow speed manatee zone. He stopped the vessel to address the violation and conducted a boating safety inspection. During the encounter he saw the operator exhibiting several indicators of impairment and began a boating under the influence(BUI) investigation. Upon completion of the investigation, the subject was placed under arrest for BUI and issued several boating safety and resource related citations.
Officer Brodbeck was on patrol in Jupiter when he saw a vessel with many passengers on board. He initiated a vessel stop to conduct a boating safety inspection and determined the vessel was operating for-hire as a charter vessel. Officer Brodbeck identified numerous violations and contacted the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in Riviera Beach for assistance. Once USCG personnel arrived on scene and conducted an inspection of the vessel, it was confirmed that there were 4 major violations to include no Certificate of Inspection, no Merchant Mariner Credential on board, no Stability Letter, and no Drug/Alcohol Testing Program. The captain/owner of the vessel faces fines up to $38,000.
Officer Brodbeck was on patrol at Phil Foster Park in Riviera Beach when a subject was cleaning numerous fish which appeared to be undersized. After confirming that the fish, both snapper and gray triggerfish, were below the minimum size limit, the officer instructed the subject not to touch the fish as he stepped away to speak with another subject on the vessel. When Officer Brodbeck returned, the fish had been cleaned and the heads disposed of into the water. The officer seized the undersized snapper and issued the subject a misdemeanor resource citation for possession of undersize mutton snapper. A written warning was issued for possession of undersize gray triggerfish.
Officer Brodbeck was on patrol at Phil Foster Park in Riviera Beach conducting resource inspections. A vessel with one occupant approached the dock with fishing equipment and bait in plain view. The officer asked the operator if there were any fish on board. The subject pointed to a large cooler and stated there was a kingfish, a blackfin tuna, and a sailfish inside. Officer Brodbeck inspected the cooler and discovered that the sailfish did not have a head or tail. The subject stated that they had been removed to fit the sailfish into the cooler. Officer Brodbeck seized the sailfish and issued the subject a misdemeanor resource citation for billfish not in whole condition. A written warning was issued for no Highly Migratory Species Permit on board, required for the harvest of billfish.
Officers Hudson and McLeod were at the Jensen Beach Causeway when they saw an individual cast net a snook. The individual left the snook and cast net on the causeway, then ran to get his car. When he pulled up to collect the undersized snook and cast net the officers issued him three citations.
Officers Pecko and Mcleod were on vessel patrol and conducted a vessel stop on a vessel returning from offshore. The subjects were in possession of various species of fish including three undersized gray triggerfish. The subject did not have a Type IV throwable or a sound-producing device. The subject was cited accordingly.
Officer Pecko was on vessel patrol and conducted a stop on a vessel returning from offshore. While conducting a fisheries inspection, 8 undersized gray triggerfish were found in the vessel. The subjects were cited accordingly.
COMMINITY ORIENTED POLICING
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officer Brodbeck brought a patrol vehicle to the Touch-A-Truck event in North Palm Beach. Approximately 1,000 people attended the event. Officer Brodbeck spoke at length to the hundreds of children who climbed inside and around the FWC truck, discussing the numerous duties expected of an FWC officer, the application process, and the wide-range of equipment the agency uses to conduct its mission. Numerous families expressed their appreciation for the FWC and its officers.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
Thirty officers from South Region A deployed to the areas affected by Hurricane Michael in North Florida. They brought shallow water vessels and UTV’s to assist in the search, rescue and recovery efforts. They are working with the other 120 FWC officers from around the state that are on scene. Stationed out of Mexico Beach and Port Saint Joe, the officers respond to critical missions including security patrols, road blocks, debris removal, traffic direction, and assisting other agencies.
SOUTH REGION B
MIAMI DADE COUNTY
Officer Sample saw a boat returning to Crandon Park Boat Ramp at night without displaying any navigation lights. As he approached the boat to conduct a safety inspection, he saw numerous fishing rods and a red cooler on board. The subject was found to be in possession of two undersized mutton snapper and one bonefish. The appropriate citations were issued.
Officer Moschiano conducted a resource inspection on three men on the side of the road near Black Point marina. He found them in possession of blue land crab which are out of season. The men were also in possession of 9 traps used to catch crab. Trapping blue land crab is an illegal method of catch. The traps were confiscated, and the men were cited appropriately.
Officer Osorio saw a vessel coming into the Crandon Park Marina Boat Ramp displaying several fishing rods and other fishing equipment. He initiated a vessel stop to conduct a fisheries inspection. The inspection revealed seven undersized mutton snapper. The captain of the vessel was educated on how to properly identify and differentiate a mutton snapper from lane snapper. The subject was cited for two misdemeanors for the possession of seven undersized mutton snapper and for over the bag limit. Officer Osorio also educated the captain about boating safety equipment and issued a citation and a warning.
Officer Richards and Foell conducted a seafood quality control inspection on a fish house in Key West. It was found that the wholesale and retail licenses were expired, along with the business license. The fish house had a cooler full of spiny lobster with no corresponding invoices. There were multiple health violations including no thermometers and trash and unsanitary liquids mixed with saltwater products. The officers seized the contaminated saltwater products for disposal and issued multiple misdemeanors to the business owner.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
MIAMI DADE COUNTY
Officer Moschiano and Officer Perez responded to an overdue vessel which was supposed to return to Black Point marina. With help from Coast Guard aircraft, Officer Moschiano and Officer Perez were able to locate the vessel. The operator was tired but in good health. The vessel and occupant were safely transported back to the marina.
Officers Larios, Maldonado, and McKay responded to a swimmer in distress call at Mosquito Banks in John Pennekamp State Park. A large male could not get back on a rented deck boat after going swimming at the reef. FWC responded and met with a commercial dive boat who had brought the male onto their vessel using a better boarding ladder. He was transferred over to the FWC 850 Impact in rough seas. Due to sea conditions, he was brought back to the livery on the FWC vessel after several unsuccessful attempts at transferring him on to his rented vessel. The male’s family followed back to shore to be reunited. The male required no medical attention.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Yaxley and Tidwell conducted an outreach program at the Marco Island Boat Show held at Rose Marina. They educated the public on federal fisheries, boater safety, and the fishery closures due to the red tide. The event was sponsored by Marine Industries Association of Collier County. Marine industries has helped teach over 10,000 children to fish.