Officer Long responded to a single vessel accident that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico near the Alabama line. The vessel was found beached with the operator being the only occupant on board. The vessel sustained major damage to the engines and other electrical equipment due to water intrusion after being beached. The operator admitted consuming several alcoholic drinks which caused him to fall asleep. While Officer Long spoke to him, he noticed several signs of impairment. The operator agreed to perform field sobriety exercises, which confirmed he was impaired. Officer Long placed the operator under arrest and transported him to the Escambia County Jail for booking. The operator agreed to give a breath sample which showed his breath alcohol level was .253 G/210L blood alcohol content, which is over three times the legal limit. The operator was also found at fault with the accident and was cited for a navigation rule violation.
Officers Hughes and Kossey were patrolling the Gulf of Mexico in federal waters. They saw subjects in a boat fishing and conducted a resource inspection. During the stop, they found the subjects were in possession of red snapper and gag grouper during closed season. They also found red snapper on board that the subjects were using as bait. The subjects were cited for possession of red snapper and gag grouper during closed season, using reef fish as bait, and failure to land in whole condition.
Officer Gerber was conducting resource inspections at White City Boat Ramp when he saw three individuals cleaning fish. During the inspection, he found six undersized red grouper in their cooler. The appropriate citations were issued to the individuals.
Officers H. Webb and M. Webb intercepted a boat returning from fishing 9.5 miles out from Cape San Blas. Two people were aboard, one of which was a local charter captain. The captain responded that he had a couple of grouper when asked if any fish were caught. An inspection revealed the captain was in possession of two gag grouper in a closed area. The appropriate citation was issued.
Officer Burkhead located a turkey blind with fresh corn scattered within ten yards of the blind. Officer Burkhead monitored the site and located a subject calling and hunting for turkeys from the baited blind. The subject was cited for hunting turkeys over bait.
Officers Little and Scott completed an investigation into criminal dumping. The officers responded to a complaint of a dumpsite along a county road, where they found a very large pile of hurricane debris. Much of the site consisted of a metal building, shingles and other debris. They located a witness who saw a storm debris removal truck in the area at the time the debris was dumped. They located the owner of the truck, but he denied dumping the debris. The officers located the residences from where the debris was hauled. Three homeowners gave statements they paid the truck owner to haul away the debris. They produced receipts where they paid for the service and identified the debris as coming from their residences. After reviewing the case with the State Attorney’s Office, charges of dumping in an amount exceeding 500 pounds and scheme to defraud were filed against the owner of the debris removal company.
While on water patrol on the Wacissa River, Officers Wilcox and Mims stopped a vessel to conduct a boating safety inspection. During the inspection, the 19-year-old operator had several boating safety deficiencies. He was missing a sound producing device and a type IV throwable device. The operator also did not have a boater safety card nor a certificate of registration on board. Furthermore, during the inspection Officer Mims saw a partially empty bottle of beer as well as several sealed bottles of beer in the vessel. The operator was cited for possession of alcohol by a person under 21 and no boater ID card. Warnings were issued for no registration certificate, no type IV throwable flotation device, and no sound producing device.
While Officers Richardson and Hildebrand were conducting water patrol on Lake Talquin, they noticed an individual from a landing nearby walk down the boat ramp. He began throwing a cast net and emptying the net into his bucket. As the individual proceeded to throw the cast net again, he noticed the officers approaching. He then went back to his bucket and began dumping its contents into the lake. While he was emptying the bucket, the officers gave the individual verbal commands to stop. The commands were ignored. The suspect claimed he had only caught bait fish. After interviewing the subject, he admitted to illegally harvesting panfish with a cast net. An appropriate citation was issued.
After receiving a complaint from a state forest employee, Officer Hahr began investigating a case involving several subjects dumping trash on the Blackwater Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Throughout the investigation, Officer Hahr developed suspects in the case which later led to interviews of the individuals involved. Based on their statements, witness statements, and the amount of trash that had been discarded in the WMA, Officer Hahr obtained an arrest warrant for two of the individuals for felony dumping. A misdemeanor arrest warrant was also issued for the third individual.
Officer Hahr and Lieutenant Bartlett were on water patrol at Crab Island when they saw a rental pontoon boat nearly collide with the Destin Marler Bridge. After clearing the bridge, the operator accelerated the throttle bringing the vessel on plane in the idle speed/no wake zone. A vessel stop was conducted to address the boating violation. Throughout the boating safety inspection, Lieutenant Bartlett saw several signs of impairment being displayed by the operator. Field sobriety tasks were conducted and based on the operator’s performance he was arrested for BUI. The operator later provided a breath sample of 0.163 blood alcohol content.
Officers Pifer and Corbin were on water patrol when they stopped a vessel returning from the Gulf of Mexico with three individuals and fishing gear on board. A resource inspection of the vessel revealed an oversized redfish in a cooler in the forward half of the vessel. The redfish measured approximately 32-3/4 inches in total length. The owner/operator of the vessel stated he caught the fish. A citation was issued for harvesting an oversized redfish.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officer Hoomes responded to assist a Santa Rosa County deputy who was investigating a suspicious person in Navarre who was in possession of an undersized redfish. Officer Hoomes arrived and determined the redfish was less than 18 inches in total length. The subject had cut the fish up and was using the redfish for bait. The subject was issued a citation for possession of an undersized redfish and issued warnings for failure to land a redfish in whole condition and no saltwater fishing license.
Officer Parrish conducted a follow up investigation into the possible shooting of a common vulture. The injured bird was in the complainant’s yard after a neighbor shot several times in the area of an adjacent pond. The bird did not survive due to its injuries. After interviews, Officer Parrish received a confession for shooting the vulture and direct filed the case with the Washington County State’s Attorney.
While on patrol in the offshore patrol vessel “Vigilance,” Officers P. Rockwell and Matechik boarded a recreational vessel approximately 15 miles south of Pensacola. While approaching the vessel to conduct a fisheries inspection, the vessel operator saw the officers’ approach and quickly attempted to leave the area at a high rate of speed. The Vigilance quickly caught up to the vessel and stopped it. During the fisheries inspection, the officers found the occupants in possession of several undersized gray triggerfish. The violations were addressed, and appropriate action was taken.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING – EXPANDING PARTICIPATION IN CONSERVATION
Officers Pifer and Corbin attended the annual Construction Junction outreach event held by the Fort Walton Beach Police Department. This outreach event allows kids to have a hands-on experience with equipment ranging from law enforcement vehicles and vessels, SWAT vehicles, dump trucks, tow vehicles, fire trucks, ambulances, military vehicles, and other construction vehicles. Over 100 parents and children attended the four-hour event.
K9 Officer Hutchinson, K9 Zara and Lieutenant Molnar attended a Military and Public Safety Appreciation Day in Crestview. The officers spoke with many people of all age groups and interests. Young children were able to sit in the patrol vehicles and were shown how the blue lights, siren and PA operate. Questions were answered about employment with FWC, fishing and hunting, trapping and being in law enforcement in general.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Lieutenant Kiss was patrolling Stephen Foster State Park when he received information from park staff that FWC assistance was needed at Big Shoals State Park in reference to a dog attack. Upon arrival, Lieutenant Kiss saw Hamilton County EMS/Fire as well as park staff in the main parking lot. A woman was sitting in her vehicle, with bloodied legs and puncture wounds. The victim refused EMS ambulance transport but was taken to Lake City Medical Center ER for treatment by her husband. Lieutenant Kiss obtained the phone number of the owner of the dog from park staff. Contact was made with the dog’s owner and direction given to immediately come to the parking lot. The dog, a 75-lb Belgian Malinois mix was in the owner’s vehicle while information was gathered. The dog’s owner said she had her dog on a leash and harness. As two hikers were passing by, her dog broke free from her control and attacked the victim. The dog had a similar incident in Virginia about a year prior, according to the owner. Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office was called due to the incident involving a domestic animal attack. Hamilton County Health Department will follow up with the dog’s owner.
Lieutenant Kiss was off duty when he received a call from FWC dispatch about a stolen AR-15, suppressor and gear bag from the Osceola Forest gun range. Lieutenant Kiss spoke to the responding Columbia County sheriff’s deputy who provided information about the theft. Lieutenant Kiss called FWC Lieutenant Farmer and gave him the information. Lieutenant Farmer responded to the Osceola gun range with the victim to review video footage of the range. Lieutenant Farmer identified a suspect through video footage and contacted the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office with his findings. Within hours, all items taken, including the AR-15, suppressor and gear were returned to the rightful owner. Columbia County Deputies interviewed the suspect and determined the action to be a “found property” incident and no charges will be filed.
Resource Protection Officers Schirbock and Shearer made several cases while working JEA patrol out of Mayport. One vessel was found in possession of five red snapper in closed federal waters, eight undersized black sea bass and one undersized grey trigger fish. The four subjects on board were issued federal citations and warnings. Another vessel was over the bag limit of vermillion snapper and in possession of undersized grey trigger. The owner of that boat was issued a state misdemeanor citation for the vermillion violation and warned for the undersized trigger fish. Another vessel maneuvered abruptly while being approached and two red snapper were floating in the water. The subjects denied dumping the illegal fish but were also in possession of undersized vermillion snapper. Appropriate citations were issued.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
Officer Cline received a call for assistance from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office about a lost man and woman whose vehicle was stuck in the Osceola National Forest. Officer Cline responded along with FWC Lieutenant Farmer and a deputy from Columbia County. Columbia County Sheriff’s Office dispatch was able to “ping” the lost persons phone and a general location was established. Officer Cline found the two people and their stuck Dodge Durango down a side road off FR 234. They were okay and relieved that help had arrived.
Officer Dias was on patrol on Lake Griffin watching individuals fishing from a recreational vessel. When the subjects came back to the boat ramp he conducted a resource inspection. The two subjects on board had two coolers. One contained 57 panfish and the other contained 71 panfish. Officer Dias could smell an odor of marijuana during the inspection. Both subjects were issued citations for over the bag limit of panfish and possession of cannabis under 20 grams.
Officer Goodreau checked three adults who recently returned from a fishing trip in the Oak Hill area. A resource inspection revealed under the legal-size limit of snook and more than the legal daily bag limit of snook for one of the individuals. The subject was issued criminal notices to appear for the violations.
Officer Balgo conducted several resource inspections around the area which resulted in the following citations being issued.
- Undersized sheepshead
- 7 undersized mangrove snapper
- 1 undersized red drum
- 3 undersized spotted sea trout
- 1 undersized cobia and several boating violations
- Oversized black drum, undersized sheepshead and several boating safety violations
- Undersized snook, undersized mangrove snapper, no valid fishing license and no snook permit
- 1 oversized red drum, license violations and safety equipment violations
While patrolling Port Canaveral, Officers Balgo and Hallsten stopped a vessel to conduct a fisheries inspection. The inspection located undersized dolphin. The operator of the vessel was cited accordingly.
While patrolling the Merritt Island Refuge, Officer Balgo located several individuals trespassing and having a prohibited fire. Office Balgo also found one of the individuals to be in possession of an oversized red drum. The individual was cited accordingly.
While conducting federal fisheries patrols, Officers Hallsten and Balgo boarded a commercial charter boat out of Port Canaveral. It was found that the charter had two undersize gray triggerfish. Federal charges were filed with NOAA for the violation.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING – EXPANDING PARTICIPATION IN CONSERVATION
K9 Officer Sidor and K9 Harry gave a presentation for a group of workers from NASA. The discussion was about the importance of our port program and how we are protecting the State of Florida from illegal shipments of fish and wildlife, especially invasive species. There were approximately 50 employees present during the presentation. The employees appreciated the presentation, had great questions regarding the port program, and loved K9 Harry and his demonstration.
Officers Balgo and Kearney attended the Canaveral Air Force Base Family Day. The officers answered questions, educated families, handed out pamphlets and regulation books, along with educational items to the kids and their families.
Officer Gonzales, Officer Dalton and Lieutenant Hinds were on water patrol around Long Boat Pass. They stopped and performed a boating safety inspection on a vessel transiting in the area. During the inspection, the two officers saw that the operator of the vessel was showing signs of being under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. The officers performed sobriety tasks on the operator to determine his level of impairment. When the officers concluded the tests, the operator was arrested for boating under the influence of alcohol. He was taken to the Manatee County Jail and will have to appear in court for his violation.
Officer Klobuchar and Officer Davidson were on water patrol around Long Boat Pass. They stopped a vessel transiting the area to perform boating safety and fisheries inspections. During the inspection, the two officers found that the subject on the vessel had caught and kept one undersized red grouper. Furthermore, it was discovered that one of the subjects onboard had multiple felony warrants for his arrest out of Manatee County. The men were given a warning for the undersized red grouper and the subject with the felony warrants was taken to the Manatee County Jail and will have to appear in court for his violations.
Officer Davidson was on land patrol at Fort Hammer Boat Ramp. He noticed a subject trying to back his trailer down the boat ramp so his friend could load their boat. It appeared that the man backing the trailer down the ramp was having some difficulty performing this task. Officer Davidson approached the driver of the vehicle and immediately could tell that he appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. The officer attempted to perform sobriety tasks on the operator to determine his level of impairment, but the driver refused to perform any task. He was taken to the Manatee County Jail for driving under the influence and refusal to submit to sobriety tasks. He will have to appear in court for his violations.
Officer Davidson was performing fisheries inspections around the Green Bridge Fishing Pier in the city of Palmetto. During his inspections, he found that a subject had caught and kept a snook out of season on the pier. The subject had tried to conceal the fish by wrapping it in newspaper and hiding it in the back seat of his car when Officer Davidson approached him to perform an inspection. The subject was cited criminally for possession of snook out of season and will have to appear in court for his violation.
Officer Earls and Officer Boyer were conducting airboat patrol in Lake Kissimmee when they saw an airboat being operated at night without navigational lights. During the vessel stop, the officers saw several empty beer cans in the boat as well as signs that would indicate impairment. Officer Boyer requested the operator to perform Seated Field Sobriety Tasks (SFSTs). Upon completion of the SFSTs, Officer Boyer determined the operator was operating the airboat on waters of the state while normal faculties were impaired. The operator was arrested, transported and booked into the Osceola County Jail. The operator was cited for BUI and refusal to submit to a breath test.
While conducting boating safety and fisheries inspections at Sims Park Boat Ramp, Officer Specialist Pulaski noticed a vessel operator displaying possible indicators of impairment. Officer Pulaski contacted the operator and conducted a boating safety inspection. Officer Specialist Pulaski requested the subject submit to standardized field sobriety tasks and the individual performed poorly. Officer Pulaski arrested the subject for boating under the influence and requested a sample of his breath. The subject refused to provide a breath sample and was charged accordingly.
Officer Earls was patrolling Lake Kissimmee when he saw multiple airboats operating toward Shady Oaks boat ramp. Officer Earls conducted a boating safety inspection stop of the second airboat approaching the boat ramp. Officer Earls saw the operator consuming an alcoholic beverage and several empty alcoholic beverage containers could be seen throughout the vessel. The operator displayed multiple signs of possible impairment during the inspection. Officer Earls conducted Seated Field Sobriety Tasks, following consent of the operator. The operator performed the tasks poorly and was arrested for boating while normal faculties were impaired and transported to Polk County Jail.
Officer Carter was on night patrol at the Lake Shipp boat ramp and saw a pontoon boat approaching the ramp without an all-around white navigation light being displayed. Officer Carter conducted a vessel stop for the violation and conducted a safety inspection. During the inspection he detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from the operator and saw multiple signs of impairment. The operator agreed to perform the Seated Field Sobriety Tasks. The subject performed the tasks poorly and was arrested for boating under the influence.
SOUTH REGION A
Environmental Investigator Booth was on patrol when he encountered a truck and trailer hauling a load of used tires. The vehicle did not have a waste tire permit displayed as required. After initiating a traffic stop, he learned the vehicle did not have the proper permit to transport large quantities of used tires. Further investigation revealed the driver was previously educated on the need for the permit. One misdemeanor citation was issued for the violation.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Captive Wildlife Investigator Toby was patrolling state lands when he encountered a stolen vehicle. Due to dark tinted windows, he was unable to verify if there were occupants in the car. After backup arrived, he approached the vehicle and confirmed it was abandoned. Further investigation revealed someone attempted to set the vehicle on fire. The stolen vehicle investigation was turned over to local law enforcement.
SOUTH REGION B
MIAMI DADE COUNTY
Officer T. Stanton and Officer O. Saavedra saw a vessel anchored in the no entry zone in the Virginia Key area. Officer Stanton asked the operator if he had been fishing. He said yes and a resource inspection revealed 3 undersized mangrove snapper and 2 undersized mutton snapper. The subject claimed ownership of the undersized fish and was cited for being in the no entry zone and possessing the undersized fish.
Officer Hoppe, Stanton, and Conroy were on water patrol during the 2019 Naples Canoe Races. The officers saw a jet ski with missing registration numbers. They contacted the operator to address the missing registration numbers and conduct a boating safety inspection. The officers noticed several indicators of impairment. Officer Stanton placed the operator under arrest for boating under the influence (BUI) and transported him to the CCSO Marco Island Sub Station where he refused to provide a breath sample. The operator was booked into the Naples Jail Center.
Officer Seiler and Officer Despian were on water patrol near Haulover sandbar when they saw a personal watercraft (PWC) speeding through a posted slow speed manatee zone. The passenger on the PWC was a young child wearing an adult PFD that did not fit properly. A livery inspection was conducted where the PWC was rented and the operator was in violation of numerous laws, one of which was renting the PWC without the proper safety equipment. The livery operator was cited for the violations.
Officer Chesney was on patrol when USCG responded to a vessel crash on the north side of Fleming Key off Key West. USCG relayed that the operator was intoxicated. Officer Chesney spoke with USCG member’s on arrival and found that there were eight passengers on board the crashed vessel – four were injured. One subject was life flighted to Ryder in Miami. Lieutenants Payne and Peters and Officers Piekenbrock and Mason assisted with witness statements at Lower Keys Hospital. The operator was arrested for BUI after performing poorly on seated field sobriety tests and provided a breath sample of .115. He was cited for violations which included BUI with property damage or injury, operating a vessel while normal facilities impaired and operating a vessel with a blood alcohol level higher than .08. The operator was also cited for seven boating violations.
Officer Chesney was on patrol and received a dispatch reference a drunken boater driving reckless at Snipes Point. Once on scene, he was flagged down by the reporting party’s vessel. The vessel that was driving reckless was adjacent to them tossing beer cans and a bottle of vodka overboard. Officer Chesney stopped the vessel, conducted SFSTs and placed the operator under arrest. The subject refused to give a breath test at the jail. The subject was cited for operation of a vessel while normal faculties impaired, reckless operation of a vessel, littering, and refusal to submit to a breath test.
Officers Arbogast, Yurewitch, Bruder, and Lieutenant Sushil were on water patrol during the annual Naples Canoe Races. The officers saw a vessel heading north through Marco River violating the idle speed zone. They initiated a vessel stop to address the violation and to conduct a boating safety inspection. During the vessel stop, the officers noticed several indicators of impairment. Officer Arbogast administered the seated battery of Standard Field Sobriety Tests. The operator performed poorly and was placed under arrest for boating under the influence (BUI). The officers transported the operator to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Marco Island Sub Station where he provided a breath sample of .156 BAC. He was booked into the Naples Jail Center.
FWC officers from Collier, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, along with the crews of the offshore patrol vessels C.T. Randall and Interceptor, conducted their annual joint-agency operation in conjunction with the 2019 Naples Canoe Race. FWC coordinated with Collier County Sheriff’s Office marine, aviation, youth relations, and emergency response team, along with Marco Island and Naples Police Department marine units, Collier County Fire Rescue, and the US Coast Guard. FWC officers stopped over 150 vessels. FWC officers made 5 boating under the influence arrests and issued 5 additional misdemeanors for criminal vessel violations and fishing violations. There were no reported injuries or boating accidents during the annual event.
Officer Parker was conducting a welfare check on an individual when she noticed 2 bird traps and 2 bird cages all containing migratory birds in a neighbor’s yard. Upon further inspection she found that the home owner had 4 painted buntings and 2 indigo buntings. The individual was cited accordingly.
Officers Parker, Thurkettle, and Blanco stopped a vessel that had a child on board without a life vest. Further investigation found that the subjects had 3 undersized mangrove snapper and 1 undersized mutton snapper. The appropriate citations were issued.
Officers Parker, Thurkettle, and Blanco stopped a commercial charter captain they witnessed gaff a goliath grouper on board his vessel so his clients could pose with it for photographs. As soon as the captain noticed the officers approaching, he dumped the goliath grouper overboard. The charter captain was cited accordingly.
Officers Hoppe, Stanton and Conroy were working water patrol during the 2019 Naples Canoe Races. They saw a jet ski in the Marco River and conducted a boating safety inspection. The operator appeared disoriented and did not know where he was. The officers noticed several indicators of impairment and Officer Conroy administered the seated battery of standard field sobriety tests. The operator performed poorly and was arrested for boating under the influence (BUI). The officers transported the operator to the Marco Island Sub Station where he refused to provide a breath sample. The operator was booked into the Naples Jail Center.
Officer Hoppe, Stanton, and Conroy were working water patrol during the 2019 Naples Canoe Races. They saw a jet ski with missing registration numbers. The officers stopped the operator to address the missing registration numbers and conduct a boating safety inspection. During the vessel stop, the officers noticed several indicators of impairment. Officer Stanton placed the operator under arrest for boating under the influence (BUI). The officers transported the operator to the Marco Island Sub Station where he refused to provide a breath sample. The operator was booked into the Naples Jail Center.
Officers Richards, Foell, Piekenbrock and Sample conducted a four-day Dry Tortugas patrol on FWC offshore patrol vessel Trident. The officers patrolled South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico federal waters, including the Tortugas North and South ecological reserves, focusing on the opening of grouper season. The officers located four vessels actively fishing inside of the Tortugas ecological reserves. Two of the vessels were fishing inside the Tortugas North reserve, and two in the South reserve. One of the two vessels was actively fishing in Tortugas South Ecological Reserve on a spot commonly called Riley’s Hump. The area is closed for all types of fishing activity and possession of fish. While conducting a fisheries inspection, the officers located 16 out of season red snapper and over the bag limit of red grouper. The federal violations were documented and forwarded to National Marine Fisheries Service. Another vessel was actively spearfishing in Tortugas North Ecological Reserve. As the officers approached, a subject was putting a speared mutton snapper into his vessel. The vessel contained numerous speared fish, including over the limit of red grouper. The subject was cited accordingly for the state misdemeanor violations, as well as other boating violations. Two additional vessels were found fishing inside of the Tortugas North and South Reserves. All violations were documented appropriately, and federal violations were forwarded to National Marine Fisheries Service.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
Officers Yurewitch, Kleis, and Bruder were on water patrol when they saw an individual in open water struggling to swim. The officers assisted him aboard their vessel. The individual stated that he had fallen off a jet ski and it continued off without him. The officers made sure that the individual was not experiencing any problems or injuries prior to a Collier County Sheriff’s Office Deputy arriving to transport him back to the boat ramp.
During the canoe race event, several officers responded to a notification of an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPRIB) activation. The officers responded to coordinates provided approximately four miles west of Caxambas Pass. Upon arrival, there was no vessel in the area. Another officer went to a nearby marina where the vessel was known to dock and located the operator and vessel. It was determined the EPIRB activation was accidental and contact was made with USCG to terminate their response.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING – EXPANDING PARTICIPATION IN CONSERVATION
Officer Dube attended an FWC workshop about blackfin tuna. FWRI has been hosting these workshops throughout the state to receive input from stakeholders on how to better manage this fishery. The workshop provided information on migration, spawning, diet and biology of blackfin tuna.