Officer N. Basford was on water patrol in Grand Lagoon when she received a complaint from FWC dispatch that the United States Coast Guard needed assistance with an impaired operator at the St. Andrews Marina. Officer Basford arrived on scene and contacted the US Coast Guard. They told Officer Basford that the operator had performed field sobriety tasks for them and he showed signs of impairment. Officer Basford noticed the smell of an alcoholic beverage coming from the operator and that his eyes were bloodshot and watery. Officer Basford asked the operator if he would perform field sobriety tasks for her at which time he refused. The operator also refused to provide a breath sample. The operator was cited for operating a vessel with normal faculties impaired while being accompanied in the vessel by persons under the age of 18 years. The operator was booked into the Bay County Jail.
Investigator Williams and Officers Gore and Parrish responded to two missing juveniles and one adult swimmer on Econfina Creek near Pitt Springs. The girls were vacationing from Texas. not familiar with the area, and was sundown approaching. Officer Parrish was able to launch a boat, locate the missing swimmers on a bank and bring them back safely to their family.
Officers Ramos and Long were on vessel patrol in an idle speed zone when they spotted a personal water craft (PWC) casting a wake and passing other vessels. They contacted the operator of the PWC who showed multiples signs of impairment. The operator was placed under arrest for boating under the influence and transported to the Escambia County Jail.
Lieutenant Molnar and Officer Clark were on water patrol in Destin Harbor when they conducted a boating safety inspection on a vessel with seven persons onboard. During the inspection the operator showed indicators of impairment. Officer Clark asked the operator if he would perform the standardized field sobriety tasks and the operator agreed. The operator was arrested for boating under the influence and provided breath samples of 0.147 and 0.149 at Coast Guard Station Destin. The operator was cited for boating under the influence and transported to the Okaloosa County Jail.
Officers Clark and Wilkenson were on water patrol in Destin Harbor when they saw a vessel with two individuals violating the idle speed-no wake zone. A vessel stop was conducted to address the boating violation and to perform a boating safety inspection. During the inspection, Officer Clark detected a strong odor of alcoholic beverage coming from the operator. The operator agreed to perform standardized field sobriety tasks and was placed under arrest for boating under the influence. At Coast Guard Station Destin, the subject provided a breath sample of .230 and .231. The operator was cited for boating under the influence and transported to the Okaloosa County Jail.
Officers Wilkenson and Long were on water patrol near Crab Island when they saw a pontoon vessel violating the idle speed/no wake zone. After stopping the vessel to address the boating violation, the officers noticed there was a large amount of empty alcoholic beverages onboard the vessel and the operator showed signs of impairment. They asked the operator to perform field sobriety tasks and he refused. The operator was arrested for boating under the influence and refused to provide a breath sample.
Officers Mims and Maltais were on water patrol near Crab Island when they saw a personal watercraft driving erratically in violation of the idle speed/no wake zone. A vessel stop was conducted to address the boating violation and the operator showed several signs of impairment. Officer Mims conducted field sobriety tasks and the operator was found to be under the influence and was placed under arrest. The operator later provided a breath sample of a 0.125 and 0.133 breath alcohol level.
Lieutenant Molnar, Officer Pifer and Officer Clark were on water patrol at Crab Island when they conducted a vessel stop on a pontoon boat for violation of the idle speed/no wake zone. During the boating safety inspection, Officer Pifer determined the vessel was a rental from a nearby livery and did not have any suitable life jackets for the three small children who were onboard. The officers spoke to the livery staff who stated they overlooked putting the child size life jackets onboard the vessel. Officer Pifer issued a notice to appear citation to the livery employee that provided the pre-ride instructions for renting a vessel without providing the proper safety equipment.
Officers Long and Hahr were on water patrol in Destin Harbor when they saw the operator of a rental vessel violating the no-wake zone. During the vessel stop and safety inspection, the operator showed several indicators of impairment. After conducting field sobriety tasks, the subject was arrested for boating under the influence. The subject provided a breath sample of .164, was cited accordingly, and transferred to the Okaloosa County Jail.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
K9 Officer Hutchinson received a call about a teenage male subject who was missing at the Blackwater State Park. The teenager had been missing for over 24 hours after wrecking his truck on the previous day. Officer Hutchinson established the teens last known location, which was a parking lot inside Blackwater State Park. Officer Hutchinson deployed his K9 partner Zara and conducted an area search. After searching for approximately 45 minutes in a thick swamp, K9 Zara located the teenager down an embankment sitting in the water and wedged between a tree and the river bank. When Officer Hutchinson contacted him he was unable to speak clearly and showed signs of severe dehydration. Officer Hutchinson provided him fresh drinking water and stabilized him to keep him from passing out in the river. Officers H. Rockwell and Hoomes who were assisting with the search were notified that the teen was located. They retrieved a canoe from the state park and paddled to Officer Hutchinson’s location. The teen was unable to stand or move. The officers put him in the canoe and maneuvered it upriver. The teen was loaded into an ambulance and taken to the hospital.
Officers responded to a report of an airboat accident with people in the water on the Wacissa River in Jefferson County. Upon arriving on the scene, Officer Wilcox and Lieutenant Wass de Czege, with the help of Jefferson County Sheriff’s units, were able to determine that there were no injuries and all (2) occupants of the vessel were accounted for. Upon contacting the vessel operator, who was still in the driver’s seat of the airboat, Officer Wilcox noticed signs of alcohol impairment and began a BUI investigation. The airboat driver was booked into the Jefferson County Jail for operating a vessel while impaired.
Investigator Williams found a group of individuals trespassing in a posted, closed area of Williford Springs on Econfina Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA). This area was damaged severely by the hurricane last year and is currently closed to public access. One of the five had an alcohol violation and a warrant for their arrest in Washington County. Five individuals were cited accordingly for the WMA rule violations. The subject with the warrant was placed under arrest and transported to the Washington County Jail.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Officer Christmas contacted a subject who was packing up after fishing on Zoo Parkway. A resource inspection of his catch revealed one undersized red drum and five undersized mangrove snapper. The fish were seized, photographed and returned to the water. The subject was issued the appropriate citations for the illegal fish.
Officer Christmas was working a dumping complaint where large amounts of debris had been illegally disposed of when he saw two subjects in a truck pulling a large trailer loaded with debris. The debris consisted of old carpet, rugs, heavy tree limbs and leaves. The subjects drove off the roadway and towards the location where debris had previously been dumped illegally until they saw Officer Christmas. The subjects immediately drove back onto the roadway and attempted to leave the area. Officer Christmas initiated a traffic stop due to the trailer not having a tag or working trailer lights. The driver was identified by his driver’s license and read his rights. The driver gave a verbal and written confession to previously dumping debris at this same location twice before. The driver stated he was again going to dump his trailer load of debris until he saw Officer Christmas. The subject was issued a traffic citation for the traffic violations and Officer Christmas will direct file with the Duval County State Attorney’s Office for commercial dumping and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Officer Gilmore and Officer Mandrick were on water patrol near Sister’s Creek boat ramp. They saw a PWC operating carelessly in the marked slow speed zone. Upon making contact, Officer Gilmore noticed signs of impairment coming from the operator. Officer Gilmore requested the operator perform SFSTs and arrested the subject for BUI. He was transported to the Duval County Jail and refused to give a breath sample.
Officer Dasher was contacted by a local land owner about trespassing on his property. After meeting with the land owner and acquiring several trail camera pictures of the individual, Officer Dasher worked with Investigator McMillan to identify a suspect. After meeting with the suspect, Officer Dasher and Investigator McMillan received a full confession that he was hunting on the private property after hours. Officer Dasher located the suspect’s firearm and seized it as evidence. Officer Dasher cited the suspect for six counts of felony armed trespassing and two counts of hunting game after legal hours.
Officer Vanas stopped a personal watercraft for violating a slow speed boating safety zone on the St. John’s River in Astor. During the stop, the operator showed signs of impairment. After conducting a boating under the influence investigation (BUI), Officer Vanas arrested the man for BUI. The man refused to provide a breath sample and was booked into the Volusia County Jail for operating a vessel while normal faculties were impaired.
Officer North was performing resource inspections at Tomoka State Park when he encountered a man with several mangrove snapper in a bucket. A measurement of the fish revealed that two of them were less than 10-inches in length. A citation was issued for the violation.
Officers Fletcher and Ward responded to a report of a freshly killed deer carcass in a ditch in Deleon Springs. The officers followed a blood trail and drag marks to a nearby residence. The officers contacted a male subject at the residence and located a velvet 4-point rack skull-cap in the back of a truck and two backstraps laying out in the sun. The man was cited for possession of a white-tailed deer during the closed season, willful and wanton waste of wildlife, and littering.
While on water patrol in New Smyrna Beach, Officer Pelzel saw two men fishing from a vessel next to a bridge. Officer Pelzel approached the boat which was tied off illegally to the bridge’s fender and initiated a resource inspection. Undersized sheepshead were located in a black plastic bag. The men were issued citations for the violation.
While on foot patrol at SR528 and the Banana River, Officer Balgo saw several individuals wading along the shoreline throwing cast nets. A resource inspection located several undersized sheepshead, mangrove snapper, and black drum. The individuals also did not possess any fishing license and harvested the mangrove snapper by illegal method. Citations were issued accordingly.
While on foot patrol Officer Balgo saw three individuals fishing along a dock off SR520. He conducted a resource inspection of a cooler and found snook fillets tied in a plastic bag. One individual was cited for possession of snook during closed season.
Officers Hallsten and Balgo conducted commercial blue crab trap enforcement and discovered one commercial subject fishing 34 untagged traps. Charges were filed appropriately.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY
Officers B. Miller and Graves were conducting offshore patrols near Nine Mile Reef. While conducting a fishery inspection, Officer Miller located an undersized Cobia at the bottom of the fish box. Officer Miller issued the appropriate federal citations for the violation.
Officer Lejarzar coordinated a boating safety detail to ensure the safety of boaters on the water and to watch for operators boating under the influence. After coordinating with other FWC officers and discussing the details of the event, Officer Lejarzar and the other officers conducted high-visibility patrols in areas where boats were meeting up for a “poker run.” Safety inspections were conducted, and officers encouraged the operators not to drink and boat. Several minor boating violations were found during the detail. Officer Lejarzar also conducted a resource inspection and located undersize mangrove snapper in a cooler. Officers’ presence and proactive patrols were successful, and no major incidents occurred.
While on patrol near the Courtney Campbell Causeway, Officer Caldwell saw two individuals spearfishing. When the individuals exited the water, he asked them if they had any luck. The two men stated they did not spear any fish. A quick search of the area where the two men had exited the water revealed a black bag hidden in the rocks. The men admitted the bag belonged to them. A search of the bag revealed four speared snook. The men admitted to spearing the snook and were cited for illegal method of take of a snook by speargun and possession of snook during a closed season.
While on patrol near the Courtney Campbell Causeway, Officer Caldwell and Officer Messman saw two individuals diving around the rocks. The officers waited for the men to exit the water and approached them to see what they were doing. The men stated they were looking for blue crabs. While talking to the individuals, the officers saw a bag full of stone crabs in the back of their truck. The individuals admitted to harvesting the stone crabs. They were cited for possession of undersized stone crab claws, stone crabs in whole condition and possession of stone crabs during a closed season.
Officer Price was on water patrol in the Caloosahatchee River when he saw a vessel on plane speed through a manatee zone. He stopped the vessel and saw signs of impairment from the operator. A criminal history check revealed he had had two prior DUI convictions and one prior BUI conviction. The operator was arrested for operating a vessel under the influence and taken to the Lee County Jail.
Officer Grenz cited three men criminally for violations pertaining to the taking (killing) of bats. The men worked for a local roofing contractor and made the decision to intentionally seal a colony of nesting bats into the roof of a condo owner’s home. Their actions forced the bats to find an alternative way out of the roof which was the homeowner’s living room. The roofers’ actions caused several of the bats to die and required the condo owner to pay several hundred dollars trying to remove the bats from the inside of her house. From April to August bats cannot be removed from any structure due to it being their maternal nesting season.
Officer Grenz investigated an internet complaint of a charter boat captain who posted pictures of himself and a client lifting a tarpon over forty inches in length out of the water for a picture. Officer Grenz interviewed the captain and he admitted to the violation. He was cited criminally and will have to appear in court for his violation.
Officer Davidson was on land patrol around South Coquina Boat Ramp when he performed a fisheries inspection on an individual returning to the ramp. The subject was in possession of one red drum during a special closed season for red tide. The subject was cited criminally and will have to appear in court for his violation.
Officer Davidson and Officer Klobuchar were on water patrol around Long Boat Pass when they stopped and performed a boating safety inspection on a vessel transiting in the area. During the inspection, 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. The operator was arrested for boating under the influence of alcohol and taken to the Manatee County Jail. One other subject on the vessel was cited criminally for possession of alcohol by a minor.
Officer Klobuchar was on patrol around Regatta Point Marina. He stopped and performed a boating safety inspection on a vessel operating in the area. During the inspection, the operator of the vessel was showing signs of being under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. After sobriety tasks, the operator was arrested for boating under the influence of alcohol and taken to the Manatee County Jail.
Officer Pettifer saw an individual carrying fishing gear and a bucket off a bridge. He initiated a resource inspection and discovered the individual to be in possession of five undersized sheepshead and three undersized mangrove snapper. The individual was cited for possession of undersized mangrove snapper and issued a warning for possession of undersized sheepshead.
Officer Pettifer saw two men fishing from a bridge. Upon seeing Officer Pettifer walking to the middle of the bridge, one of the men alerted the other man on top of the bridge and he started to untie a stringer with fish on it. Officer Pettifer was able to stop the man from completely untying the stringer and began a resource inspection which revealed an undersized snook on the stringer. The individual was cited for possession of an undersized snook and snook during a closed season.
SEARCH AND RESCUE
Officer Angelis and Officer Petru responded to a vessel that had set off an EPIRB twenty-five miles west of Spring Hill. When they arrived, the officers learned the individuals had set off the EPIRB to obtain assistance as their vessel was disabled and they had no cellular service. The officers stood by with the vessel occupants until commercial towing arrived on scene and the people were assured of a safe return to shore.
Officer Christopher Davidson was on land patrol around the Green Bridge when he encountered a man on top of the bridge who was threatening to kill himself. Officer Davidson was able to talk the man off the bridge and take him into custody. The subject was turned over to local law enforcement so he could get the help he needed at an appropriate facility.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING – EXPANDING PARTICIPATION IN CONSERVATION
Officer Specialist Pulaski and Officer Rothchild assisted staff at the Florida Youth Conservation Center Network in Apollo Beach with their saltwater fishing camp.
Officer Specialist Pulaski spoke with a group of 66 students at a Pasco County summer camp. He spoke about the FWC, the duties of an officer and how to live safely with alligators.
SOUTH REGION A
Officer Nall was patrolling along the intracoastal waterway when he noticed a group of individuals fishing along the seawall. Officer Nall conducted a fisheries inspection and the individuals were in possession of multiple unregulated species. Further into the inspection, Officer Nall located another smaller cooler hidden behind a generator and found multiple species of undersized snapper. One individual claimed ownership of the cooler and fish and was issued a criminal citation for multiple violations. Overall, one undersized greater barracuda, six undersized mangrove snapper, four undersized lane snapper, and one porkfish (marine life) were seized and entered into evidence.
Officer Nall conducted an inspection on a local fish market and found multiple violations which included licensing, quality control, and records violations. The owner of the market was issued criminal citations for not possessing a retail license for both salt and fresh water and for selling seafood to the public in unwholesome condition. A follow-up inspection will be conducted later.
Officers Matthews, Ryan and Langley conducted a resource inspection on a pickup truck with visible fishing gear in the bed exiting the A1 Flow Equalization Basin Management Area. Inside a hidden cooler in the cab they found 17 black bass all over 16” in total length. The illegal black bass were seized as evidence. The two subjects were cited for multiple misdemeanors for over the daily bag and size limits pertaining to black bass.
Officer Nall was on park patrol in Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park when he saw a subject unloading a seine net. Officer Nall watched the individual fish with the net for approximately an hour and a half. The net looked to be over the maximum allowed net size in Florida of 500 square feet. Lieutenant McDonald and FWC Pilot Simons responded to help measure the net. The net was over the maximum allowed size and was not appropriately marked with the owner’s name and address. This is considered a major violation which carries larger penalties. The individual was issued a criminal citation for the violations and the net was seized and entered into evidence.
Officer Hudson received an anonymous tip that two individuals wearing red and purple shirts had a bunch of undersized dolphin. The officer contacted the individuals and found the subjects to be in possession of 6 undersize dolphin. The subjects were both given a notice to appear citation for possession of undersized dolphin.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officers Hudson and Morrow were conducting fisheries inspections at the 1000 North Public fishing bridge. The officers saw two subjects fishing at the end of the bridge. As the officers approached, the female subject walked to a white 5-gallon bucket and threw one undersize lane snapper into the water. Officer Hudson gave her loud verbal commands to stop, to which she threw one more undersize lane snapper into the water. The officers got to the subjects before they threw anymore fish and found them in possession of three additional undersized lane snapper. The two subjects received notice to appear citations for failure to allow inspection and possession of undersized lane snapper. The subjects also received citations for no saltwater shoreline fishing license (resident) and a citation for no non-resident saltwater fishing license.
Officers Morrow, Godward, and Brodbeck were on patrol conducting retail seafood inspections in Lake Worth. While approaching a business, the officers saw the manager grab a subject with a backpack as he was leaving the store. Suspecting retail theft, the officers detained the subject. In addition to the stolen merchandise, the officers located cocaine and drug paraphernalia. During questioning, the subject provided a false name and date of birth. A criminal history check revealed the subject was on probation for prior theft and drug violations. The subject was arrested and transported to the Palm Beach County Jail. The subject was cited for possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia, retail theft with a prior conviction, resisting arrest without violence, providing a false name to law enforcement, and violation of probation.
Officers Godward and Brodbeck were on patrol and saw a vessel returning from offshore with fishing equipment in plain view and no registration numbers displayed. A vessel stop was initiated to conduct a resource inspection. Upon inspecting the vessel, an undersize dolphin was discovered. Additionally, the owner of the vessel was unable to produce the registration or flares. The vessel owner was issued citations for the registration and safety violations, and a warning for possession of undersized dolphin.
Officers Godward and Brodbeck were on water patrol in Lake Worth when a vessel was returning from offshore at a high speed. A vessel stop was initiated to conduct a resource inspection. Upon boarding the vessel, Officer Brodbeck located a cooler containing 5 undersize dolphin. The captain of the vessel was cited for possession of undersized dolphin and the fish were seized as evidence.
Officers Godward and Brodbeck were on patrol in Lake Worth when a vessel with fishing equipment in view was returning from offshore. A vessel stop was initiated to conduct a resource inspection. Officer Brodbeck boarded the vessel and discovered 3 undersized dolphin located in a fish box. The vessel also had numerous measuring devices and current regulations available. The captain of the vessel received a citation for possession of undersize dolphin and the fish were seized as evidence.
Officers Godward and Brodbeck were on patrol around Palm Beach Inlet when a vessel with fishing equipment in view was returning from offshore. A vessel stop was initiated to conduct a resource inspection. Upon boarding the vessel, Officer Brodbeck located numerous undersized dolphin in a fish box. None of the subjects on board the vessel were able to produce a valid saltwater fishing license. The captain of the vessel received a citation for possession of undersized dolphin and all received warnings for no saltwater fishing license.
Officers Godward and Brodbeck were on patrol around Palm Beach Inlet when a vessel was returning from offshore with fishing equipment in view. Officer Brodbeck boarded the vessel and discovered 3 undersize dolphin. The captain of the vessel had received previous warnings related to fisheries violations. The captain of the vessel received a citation for possession of undersize dolphin and the passenger received a warning for no valid saltwater fishing license.
Officer Brodbeck was on patrol around Palm Beach Inlet when a vessel with 4 subjects and fishing equipment in view was returning from offshore. A vessel stop was initiated to conduct a resource inspection. A total of 12 dolphin were found on board the vessel, 4 of which were undersize. The vessel had 3 different measuring devices on board as well as the current fishing regulations. Two subjects on board also did not possess valid saltwater fishing licenses. The captain of the vessel received a citation for possession of undersized dolphin, and the subjects without licenses were issued warnings for the violation.
SOUTH REGION B
MIAMI DADE COUNTY
Officer Delgado and Officer Despian were on water patrol near the Haulover Inlet when they saw a white vessel displaying numerous rods and reels heading west bound. Upon initial contact, the captain stated they were coming back from the Bahamas and had snapper on board. There were 70 yellowtail snapper, 4 silk snapper, 3 mutton snapper, and 1 vermilion snapper. The vessel and crew were over the aggregate bag limit on snapper. He stated he did not know he could only bring back a one-day limit when returning by water. Officer Delgado and Officer Despian educated him regarding the regulations and each person on board was given a pamphlet for bringing fish back from the Bahamas
Officer Despian, Officer Delgado, and Officer Almagro were on patrol near the Haulover Inlet when they spotted a vessel displaying numerous rods and reels heading west bound. They stopped the vessel for a resource and safety inspection and found one under-size nurse shark on board. The captain was given the appropriate citation.
Officer Delgado and Officer Almagro were on patrol near the Haulover Inlet, located east of the Haulover sandbar in Miami-Dade County. They stopped a vessel to perform a resource and safety inspection. A resource inspection revealed 7 undersized dolphin on board. The captain was cited accordingly.
Officer Despian was on patrol with Officer Simons near Broad Causeway, in Miami-Dade County. They stopped a sportfishing vessel returning from a fishing trip and were told that there was dolphin on board. The officers secured the vessel and conducted a resource inspection which revealed 21 undersized dolphin on board. Appropriate citations were issued.
Officer Maldonado was on patrol in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and saw a personal watercraft tied to the mangroves. A subject was snorkeling without a dive flag in the South Sound Creek. Further investigation revealed the man was spearfishing and in possession of seven mangrove snapper. Two of the snapper were undersize. The subject was cited for spearfishing in the Upper Keys and also warned for several other violations.
Officer Maldonado received a call about three subjects spearfishing at the Benwood wreck in the FKNMS. Officer Maldonado arrived and watched three subjects getting into a boat with a speared fish. Further investigation revealed an undersized speared hogfish and an undersized speared mutton snapper. The men were cited for possession of an undersized mutton snapper and possession of an undersized hogfish. The subjects were also warned for spearfishing in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING – EXPANDING PARTICIPATION IN CONSERVATION
Lieutenant Peters, Officer Messier and Officer Way coordinated with the Florida Department of Transportation and EcoMotion (a local environmental youth volunteer group) to address the excessive trash along the mangroves and shoreline of the Overseas Heritage Trail and DOT right-of-way. On-going complaints of derelict vessels, illegal fish traps, illegal dumping, littering, and damage to mangroves prompted Officer Way to address the issues. There were five boats anchored in the area, three were tagged as derelict vessels. One person was cited, and two others were arrested for the charge of storing derelict vessels on the waters of the state. Since citing the violators, two of the vessels have been removed from the waters by the owners and one remains.
Officer Way worked with FDOT managers to conduct a cleanup of the area. Officer Way also coordinated with EcoMotion to help. Volunteers donated their time and hard work on personal paddleboards to clean up areas not accessible by land. Three areas in the mangrove line had been cleared to be used as make shift dockage areas for local boaters in violation of the Florida Greenways and Trails Act. Inside these areas, trash such as old bicycle frames, air conditioners, marine debris, water tanks, propane tanks, engine stands set in concrete, and numerous other items were strewn throughout the mangroves. All items appeared to be brought in by the nearby liveaboards and not washed ashore. Written warnings were issued to the persons utilizing the area in violation of Florida Administrative Rules. In all, over 1600 pounds of litter and marine debris were removed by FDOT staff, FWC Officers, and EcoMotion volunteers.