ESCAMBIA COUNTY COPS
Captain Mary Sumner and Officers Ben Pineda and Nick Barnard attended the second of a series of public meetings hosted by the Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife, and the U.S. Department of Interior, with representatives present from all three agencies. The meeting provided an overview of the draft plan for phase one of restoration projects following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and was related to ecological systems damage and recovery, as well as user-based projects. Time for written and verbal public comment was offered. Citizens and representatives from special interest groups were in attendance.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY COPS
Officers Steve Hoomes, Joe Murphy, Royce Johnson, David Jernigan and Captain Mary Sumner met with FWC Biologist Barbara Almario and staff Bill Arnold, Randy Cohron, and volunteer John Johnson to discuss final details for the upcoming mobility impaired hunts scheduled for January 27-29 and February 3-5 at the Blackwater Hutton Unit.
Lieutenant Mark Hollinhead met with an Assistant State Attorney and direct filed charges on a subject for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Lieutenant Hollinhead had checked the subject exiting a hunting area and found the man in possession of two firearms. A follow-up investigation confirmed the man did not have his rights restored.
Lieutenant Keith Clark was on vessel patrol conducting boating safety/state fisheries inspections on Santa Rosa Sound when he observed three individuals fishing with rods and reels off the Brooks Bridge fender system. When Lieutenant Clark asked the individuals if they caught any fish, one of the three subjects advised they had caught two fish. A fisheries inspection revealed two undersized black drum in a bucket onboard the vessel. The black drum measured 10 inches and 12 inches in total length. The legal size is 14 to 24 inches in total length. Lieutenant Clark identified the individual who harvested the undersized black drum and cited the fisherman for the violation.
OKALOOSA COUNTY COPS
Captain Mary Sumner, Officers Don Walker and James Rockwell attended the first of a series of public meetings hosted by the Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife, and the U.S. Department of Interior, with representatives present from all three agencies. The meeting, conducted at the Emerald Coast Convention Center on Okaloosa Island, provided an overview of the draft plan for phase one of restoration projects following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and was related to ecological systems damage and recovery as well as user-based projects. Time for written and verbal public comment was offered. About 50 citizens and representatives from special interest groups were in attendance.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Officers Doug Loyed and Darral Thomason were on joint enforcement patrol when they performed a fisheries inspection on a vessel. Officer Loyed recognized the vessel captain as having been previously caught with hidden grouper fillets onboard. On this inspection, the officers discovered eleven gag grouper, nine undersized red grouper, and eight red grouper over the bag limit. The vessel owner was cited for possession of gag grouper during closed season, over the bag limit of red grouper, and undersized grouper.
Officers Harold Barry, Todd Nichols and Lieutenant Tim Kiss responded to a complaint of numerous shots fired over an open field. Upon arrival, the officers observed two hunters with shotguns in the field in possession of nine dove. The officers also discovered whole kernel corn scattered throughout the field. Two citations were issued to the men for taking dove over a baited field and two written warnings to one of the men for no hunting license and no migratory bird stamp.
Officers Tim Shearer and Jamey Stowell responded to two separate reports of night hunters around a U.S. Navy airfield. From a concealed location, Officer Shearer observed a truck being operating on a closed road, sweeping the headlights in a manner that could disclose the presence of wildlife. Officer Shearer stopped the vehicle and while no firearms were found, a records check revealed that the operator did not have a valid driver’s license and was previously arrested three times for driving with a revoked license. In addition, the operator had a past arrest for hunting with a gun and light. Two occupants were issued misdemeanor trespass citations and the driver was booked into jail for felony driving with a revoked license.
Officers Matt Hopp and Jamie Stowell responded in plain clothes and unmarked vehicle to a complaint of a fisherman in a kayak keeping over the bag limit of sea trout. The complainant advised the suspect had hidden a bucket full of fish near the pier. Upon arrival, the plain clothes officers struck up a conversation with the suspect. The suspect gave some fishing tips and warned them of FWC officers checking fishermen in the area. Officers Hopp and Stowell later saw the suspect move the bucket of fish closer to the parking lot. While the suspect was talking to two uniformed Jacksonville Sheriff’s Deputies, the plain clothes officers approached and identified themselves. The suspect at first denied the fish were his, but when confronted with the evidence, he admitted the fish were his. The officers found 19 spotted sea trout in the bucket, 18 of which were undersized. The illegal fish were seized and the fisherman was cited with possession of undersized and over the bag limit of spotted sea trout.
Officer Corey Bridwell stopped a vessel to perform a fisheries inspection. Upon interviewing the two occupants, he determined they were fishing in federal waters. Officer Bridwell found them in possession of 30 black sea bass, which are closed for harvest in federal waters. The illegal fish were seized and the fishermen were issued federal citations for possession of black sea bass during the federal closure.
RPS Officer Robert Lentz, working in plain clothes, acted on information provided by Officer Chris Holleman about an individual fishing from shore and keeping over the bag limit and undersized spotted sea trout. Officer Lentz watched the suspect retrieve a cooler from a trash can and prepare to leave. Officer Lentz approached the suspect and identified himself. He inspected the cooler and discovered 19 undersized spotted sea trout. Officer Lentz charged the fisherman with two misdemeanors. The fish were seized and donated to a local boy’s home.
Investigator Jill Izsak and Officer Matt Hopp were working an area near the Cecil Field airport when they encountered two trucks preparing to unload dogs in an area closed to hunting. One of the subjects stated that he was training dogs for hunting hogs, but did not have permission to be on the property. That subject has been arrested four times in the past by FWC officers for the same offense in other areas. He was issued a notice to appear for misdemeanor trespassing.
Officer Jeff Beal responded to the report of a stolen vessel and trailer. With assistance from RPS Officer Don Merlot, a suspect and accomplice were identified in the Astor area. Both suspects confessed to taking the 19-foot Hurricane deck boat and trailer while they were parked on the side of State Road 40. One of the suspects had a larger, 24-foot Hurricane deck boat that had been destroyed by fire. According to a written statement, the subject had a new hull identification number (HIN) plate made by a trophy shop, removed the HIN plate off the stolen vessel and replaced it with the HIN numbers from his larger vessel that had been destroyed. On January 6, an arrest warrant for six felonies and a $10,000 bond was issued for the suspect. Two felonies with a $4,000 bond was issued to his accomplice. Both warrants were executed by Officer Beal, Officer Steve Adam, and Lieutenant Ben Eason at the suspect’s residences in Astor.
Officer Clay McDonough and RPS Officer Meurlot were on a Joint Enforcement Agreement (JEA) patrol in the Ponce Inlet area when they inspected a commercial crawfish (Florida spiny lobster) diving vessel that had returned from offshore. A license check indicated the owner/vessel did not possess the correct permit for harvesting crawfish by diving. The inspection of the catch of 36 lobster revealed that half of the lobster harvested had puncture marks under the tail and carapace. The officers located the device used to illegally harvest the crawfish along with other evidence. The entire catch was seized and federal citations were issued.
Officers Lonnie Sushil, Matthew Raczek, Arthur Morrow, Andrew Brown, and Demian McColgin were working a net limitation enforcement detail in the Estero Bay when Officers Brown and McColgin observed a vessel without navigational lights. The occupants were fishing with a beach seine. A commercial fisheries inspection revealed three subjects onboard with three seine nets connected, totaling 1,191 square feet of net. Each subject received three misdemeanor charges for the violations.
SOUTH REGION A
Officers Austin Warne and Nick Carmen were conducting boating safety and marine fishery inspections at the 15th Street boat ramp in Fort Lauderdale. Officer Warne check a vessel and discovered a rock hind and a graysby grouper, along with two undersized flounder onboard. The fish were seized and citations were issued for possession of out of season grouper and undersized flounder.
Officer Jason Lipford was on water patrol on Lake Okeechobee near Kings Bar when he observed a vessel with one male onboard retrieving duck decoys from the water. The officer approached the vessel to conduct a safety inspection and resource inspection. Officer Lipford discovered the subject was in possession of six Lesser Scaup and advised the subject that the daily limit for Lesser Scaup was two. A citation for possession of over the daily bag limit was issued.
K-9 Officer Cris Douglas was contacted by the Okeechobee Sheriff’s Office to assist in locating several armed individuals trespassing on private property near Fort Drum. Officers Kyle Patterson and Jim Buckley were on patrol nearby and responded to assist. K-9 Boone tracked and located the subjects, who were in possession of a firearm and metal detector. Sheriff’s deputies arrested the subjects and charged them with felony trespass.
K-9 Officer Cris Douglas and Officers Kyle Patterson and Jim Buckley were on patrol in western Okeechobee County when they saw and heard ATVs and big trucks on private property. Shortly thereafter, the vehicle occupants were seen shining a spotlight in several ponds and the surrounding wood line on the property. The officers conducted a traffic stop and received consent to search the vehicles. A loaded shotgun and spotlight were found in the passenger side of one truck. In the bed of the truck they located a heavy fishing pole with a large weighted treble hook attached. An investigation determined the subjects were hunting alligators and were cited for attempting to take alligators out of season.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officer Robert Spanier gathered intelligence and facilitated a search warrant to inspect wildlife after Delray Beach police officers responded to a domestic violence incident and noticed a variety of reptiles in the household. Officer Spanier, Lieutenant Annie Plastic and the police officers served the search warrant and discovered numerous reptiles including a green tree boa, an albino Burmese python and two alligator hatchlings. The Burmese python is listed as a conditional species and owners are required to maintain a valid Reptile of Concern license. Alligators are considered Class II wildlife and require the owner to have substantial experience with alligators and meet specific caging requirements. Permits are also required for personal possession of Class II wildlife. Officer Spanier issued a notice to appear for possession of an albino Burmese python without a valid Reptile of Concern license and possession of an alligator without a Class II permit. The albino Burmese python and alligators were relocated to Busch Wildlife Center in Jupiter.
Officers Matt Cushing and Edwin Harp were on water patrol in Lake Boca when they observed a vessel returning from the ocean with fishing gear onboard. When the boat passed by, the operator made it a point not to make eye contact with the officers. Officer Cushing stopped the vessel and conducted a boating safety and marine fisheries inspection. Two undersized grouper, one gag and one red, were found onboard. The subject was cited for possession of undersized grouper and possession of grouper during closed season.
PALM BEACH SRA INVESTIGATIONS
In late October 2011, Investigator Jon Garzaniti received information that an unpermitted subject was in possession of venomous snakes. Given only a first and last name, Investigator Garzaniti developed a suspect, and conducted surveillance activities in Boca Raton. On January 3, 2012, Investigator Garzaniti identified himself to the subject at the suspected location of the snakes. The suspect was cooperative and verbally consented to an inspection of the unpermitted location housing the reptiles. The inspection revealed two false cobras, one red spitting cobra, one puff adder, one uracoan rattlesnake, one green anaconda, and one American alligator. On January 5, Investigator Shannon Wiyda and Officer Erik Howell assisted in continuing the investigation. The suspect was issued misdemeanor notice to appear citations for possession of venomous retiles without a permit and unlawful possession of American alligator. A second subject was issued a warning for possession of a conditional species (green anaconda) without a permit. The unpermitted reptiles were relocated appropriately.
ST. LUCIE COUNTY
Lieutenant Douglas Rogerson and K-9 Officer Cris Douglas were on water patrol near the Fort Pierce Inlet. They observed a vessel with several people and fishing poles onboard, traveling westbound. A vessel stop was conducted to determine compliance with safety requirements and to check for license and resource violations. The vessel operator advised that they had a few fish in the live well. Officer Douglas boarded the boat to inspect the fish and immediately observed undersized black sea bass. The subject was cited for possession of nine undersized sea bass.
Lieutenant Douglas Rogerson and Officer James Payne were conducting boating safety and resource checks at the North Bridge boat ramp. Several citations and warnings were issued. While inspecting the live well of one vessel, Lieutenant Rogerson found two each of undersized sheepshead, black drum and spotted sea trout among other legal fish. Two subjects were cited for possession of the undersized fish. The fish were returned alive to the water.
While on water patrol in the Fort Pierce area, Officers Randy Irwin and Jim Buckley received information regarding the sighting of an injured or dead manatee near the J.D. Wilcox County Park in Indian River Lagoon. They arrived on scene and observed a dead manatee floating near the shoreline. The animal was towed to Harbor Brach where a necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.
Officer Randy Irwin received a request for assistance from the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office in the recovery of a wanted subject who fled from a deputy. The deputy saw a man walking along Old Dixie Highway and recognized the subject from an earlier all points bulletin. The subject ran into a wooded area when he observed the deputy’s vehicle. Officer Irwin set up a security perimeter along U.S. Highway 1 and Naco Road. Officers Kyle Patterson and Jim Buckley also responded and secured a perimeter along U.S. Highway 1 and Juanita Avenue. Sheriff’s Office and Fort Pierce Police Department K-9s searched the wooded area; however, the subject was not located.
SOUTH REGION B
Lieutenant Albert Maza issued numerous misdemeanor citations to a subject for possession of out of season and five undersized red grouper and two gag grouper. The fisheries inspection occurred at a local marina as the vessel returned to port. During a second vessel stop at the same location, he issued additional citations to a second subject for possession of one out of season snook, which was oversized and speared.
East of Haulover Inlet, Officer Nate Martir-Negron issued numerous misdemeanor citations to several subjects for possession of two undersized black grouper and over the bag limit Atlantic Sharpnose shark. The fishermen had hidden the grouper inside the bilge compartment of the vessel.
Officers Nate Martir-Negron and Alex Diaz, along with Lieutenant Andy Carcasses,
issued several citations for boating safety equipment and navigation light violations during the nighttime boarding of a commercial shrimp vessel.
During night time patrol, Officers Robert Rodriguez and Alex Diaz and Lieutenant Andy Carcasses observed a suspect operating his vessel at high speed in close proximity to their patrol vessel. The vessel was stopped and the operator exhibited signs of impairment. Field sobriety tasks were administered to the operator and a breath test indicated a .205 reading, which is twice over the legal limit. Officer Rodriguez arrested the operator for boating under the influence.
During a vessel stop and fisheries inspection near Indian Key, Officers Shelton Bartlett, Aja Vickers, and Jason Rafter issued citations to two Miami residents for possession of out of season and undersized gag grouper. Both subjects told the officers they had no fish onboard.
Officer Jason Rafter issued a citation for careless operation to a vessel captain who ran hard aground near Shell Key, Islamorada. The captain was not familiar with the area and was operating at night, which caused him to miss a channel marker.
Investigator David McDaniel responded to a boating accident that occurred near Ocean Reef involving the operator of a small skiff who fell overboard and was struck by the engine propeller when the vessel circled back. The Canadian resident suffered severe injuries and was airlift for medical care.