September 25, 2015 thru October 1, 2015
This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week;
however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement.
Officer Goodwin received information that someone was hunting dove over a baited field on the east side of the county. Officers Goodwin and Hellett went to the field in question and observed two subjects hunting dove. The field was covered with wheat seed. The two subjects were issued citations for hunting dove over a baited field.
Officer Wicker was on patrol in St. AndrewsBay when he conducted a resource inspection on a vessel and found 8 juvenile red snapper onboard. A citation was issued for possession of red snapper during the closed season and written warnings issued for undersized red snapper and several boating safety issues.
Officers Manning and Cushing were on patrol over the weekend on the FinCat. They conducted 12 fisheries inspections in both state and federal waters. Three federal boarding’s revealed violations for possession of red snapper during a closed season. Prior to boarding one of the vessels in federal waters, one of the fishermen asked if gray triggerfish was in season before admitting to having some in the cooler. During the inspection, Officer Manning discovered gray triggerfish, undersized greater amberjack and red snapper. The violations were documented and turned over to National Marine Fisheries Service.
FWC Dispatch received a call from two alligator hunters on Lake Seminole whose vessel was taking on water and they could not find their way back to the boat ramp from which they launched. Officer Guy responded and was able to determine which boat ramp the hunters launched from after speaking to them by phone. The vessel operator had to run the vessel aground along a secluded shoreline before the vessel completely sank. Officer Guy was able to locate the hunters and bring them safely back to their vehicle.
Lieutenant Allen, Officers Forehand and Burkhead checked six dove hunters they found hunting a field that had been baited with corn. The hunters were cited for taking dove over bait. While the officers were checking these hunters, they heard shots on a nearby property. After citing the six hunters, the officers went to the property where the shots were heard and found a hunter who had taken 20 dove. This hunter was cited for taking over the bag limit of dove.
While on patrol in Eglin Wildlife Management Area, Officers White and Maltais observed a vehicle with five occupants enter a closed area. The individuals were attempting to locate palmetto berries for harvest. The driver was cited for illegal access. Eglin Range Patrol issued a notice of violation suspending his access to the area for two months.
Officer P. Rockwell was on vessel patrol conducting boating safety inspections when he was dispatched to call regarding attempted kidnapping on CrabIsland. Officer Rockwell arrived on scene and assisted the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) with the investigation. They learned that two men were drinking on a nearby boat and attempted to kidnap an 11‑year‑old girl and another child by putting them on their kayaks and taking them to their boat. The two suspects and their location were quickly identified by OCSO deputies and USCG. The Sheriff’s deputies arrested both individuals for false imprisonment and attempted kidnapping.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Lieutenant Hahr was patrolling at Keyser Landing in the Escambia River Wildlife Management Area when he observed a truck heading towards the landing. This area has been vandalized several times recently, so Lieutenant Hahr followed the vehicle. The truck was being driven erratically and the driver spun the tires unnecessarily on the roadway. When Lieutenant Hahr stopped the truck, he observed two open containers of beer and the driver showed signs of impairment. The driver performed very poorly on field sobriety tasks and was arrested for DUI. The man later provided a breath sample of .162g/210L. The driver and a passenger were also cited for open container.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Fall Career Expo held on FAMU campus September 30. Representing The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement were DLE Recruiter Officer Phillip Griffith, Cindy Hoffman, FWC Director of Human Resources, DLE Human Resource Officer Paul Clemons and DLE Major Percy Griffin. The expo is an annual event open to FAMU students and alumni, offering information on approximately 150 business organizations and Fortune 500 companies to include local, state, non-profit and government recruiters. Many attendees expressed interest in becoming an FWC officer and our Mission in General.
Officer Tavano was checking duck hunters at C.S. Lee Boat Ramp in SeminoleCounty. While checking a group of hunters, he noticed they had 5 mottled ducks in their vessel. Officer Tavano interviewed the subjects and one of the individuals admitted to taking all 5 ducks. The subject was issued a citation for taking mottled ducks during the early September wood duck and teal season.
Officer Baine was conducting fisheries inspections at Starke Lake Fish Management Area in Orange County. He approached an individual he had observed fishing from a dock and asked him for his fishing license. The subject refused to comply and told Officer Baine he was leaving. Officer Baine asked to see his fishing license and identification several more times and the subject would not comply and began to walk away. The subject was placed under arrest and charged with resisting arrest without violence and fishing without a freshwater license.
Officer Douglas responded to a call at Wekiwa Springs State Park in reference to a subject that appeared to park staff to be driving under the influence. Officer Douglas located the vehicle and observed the driver leave the roadway several times. He conducted a traffic stop and observed signs of impairment in the driver. Officer Douglas had the driver perform field sobriety tasks and based on those observations he placed the driver under arrest for driving while impaired.
Lieutenant Bonds, K-9 Officer Miller, and Officers Platt, Hadwin, Mendelson, Cybula, Bohne and Luce worked Early Teal Season which covered both Brevard and Indian River Counties. At the end of the day their efforts resulted in 6 resource citations, and 1 resource warning out of 98 users checked. Violations enforced included shooting Wood and Mottled Ducks during “Teal Season Only” and using a shotgun capable of containing more than 3 shotgun shells.
While On water Patrol in Port Canaveral near Jetty Park, Officers Rob Miller and Lejarzar observed several people fishing on the South Jetty in violation of Park Rules. When the officers went ashore to address the issue, they received information that a man on the pier had caught and kept an oversized redfish. The officers went onto the pier and found two men from Orlando in possession of a 37 inch redfish. One man admitted to catching the fish after saying that someone had given it to him. The subject correctly identified the size limit when asked and said that he did not measure the fish but someone else had and that it was “good.” The subject was issued a citation for the offense.
While on water patrol near the North Jetty in Port Canaveral, Officers Lejarzar and Miller conducted a boating safety check and fisheries inspection. They found three subjects aboard a large center console in possession of four redfish. Only two of the subjects had valid fishing licenses and one claimed that he was not fishing. The captain stated that he had caught one redfish the night before and still had it on board. The four fish all appeared to be fresh and in fact one was still alive in the cooler. The Captain of the vessel admitted to catching two of the redfish. He was issued a citation for over the bag limit. Warnings for over the bag limit and boating infractions where issued to the appropriate subjects. The illegal fish were returned to the resource.
While on late night patrol of Sebastian Inlet State Park in BrevardCounty, Officer Lightsey observed a vehicle parked in the middle of the entrance roadway. Officer Lightsey watched as a passenger got out of the vehicle and picked up several Blue Land Crabs from the roadway and put them in a white bucket in the vehicle. After watching the man make several trips back to the vehicle with the crabs, Officer Lightsey approached the vehicle and identified himself as an FWC officer. Inside the white five gallon bucket were numerous egg bearing Blue Land Crabs. The man was issued a citation for "Take of Blue Land Crab from a Right of Way/State Park" and warnings for "Take of Egg Bearing Blue Land Crab" and for "Take of Blue Land Crab out of Season". The Blue Land Crabs were released safely back to the resource.
While on patrol, Officer Conlin drove up to an accident that had just occurred at the corner of Nova Rd. and U.S. 192 in Saint Cloud. FHP was notified but had no units to respond at the time. As Officer Conlin secured the scene, he interviewed the two drivers. Officer Conlin found driver one to be at fault and issued him a citation for improper lane change. Officer Conlin administered Field Sobriety Tests on driver two and found him to be impaired. FHP arrived and processed the vehicles for towing. Officer Conlin booked driver two into the Osceola County Jail. A sample of the suspect’s breath was taken and measured .083 and .088.
While on late night patrol in OsceolaCounty, RPS Officer Lightsey observed two men driving around the Bull Creek WMA area. The men pulled over and turned off their lights. Due to the time of night, the vehicle actions, and location, Officer Lightsey made contact with the vehicle’s occupants. Once the officer identified himself to the men, it was discovered that the passenger was cutting lines of cocaine and that both men were under the influence of cocaine and crystal methamphetamine. After a thorough investigation, the men were arrested for Driving While License Revoked (for previous drug offense), Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Cannabis Under 20 Grams and multiple counts of Drug Paraphernalia. Both men were booked into the Osceola County Jail.
While checking the Daytona Beach area fishing piers this week, Officer Meurlot issued two adult males criminal notices to appear (NTA) for possession of over the daily bag limit of red drum. In the New Smyrna Beach area, Officer West issued a criminal NTA citation to an adult male for not landing red drum in whole condition and Officer Malicoat issued a criminal NTA to an adult male for possession of over the slot size limit for red drum.
Prior to opening weekend of the archery season, Officer Campbell received information of possible illegal hunting in Dunn’s CreekState Park. Officer Campbell located a stand and feeder on state park property and set-up on it on opening weekend of archery. On Sunday evening, Officer Campbell made contact with a male subject that was in the stand hunting over the feeder and had a foreign exchange student with him. The subject was using a crossbow while hunting. Officer Campbell issued a citation for the illegal hunting on state park and a warning for feeding of wildlife on park property.
NORTH CENTRAL REGION
Officers Butler, Cline, Wiggins and Cooper conducted a detail on the DixieCounty coast for blue crab trap rule compliance. A week long detail resulted in 6 misdemeanor citations and 25 warnings for rule violations.
Officer Cooper completed a crab trap theft investigation this week in DixieCounty. A local resident of DixieCounty had been steeling traps from other crabbers and using them in his lines. He also had an invalid license. Officer Cooper filed charges with the state attorney’s office for commercial harvest of blue crab without endorsement; commercial harvest of blue crab with unlawful endorsement number on buoys; commercial harvest of blue crabs with untagged traps and commercial harvest of blue crabs with no biodegradable panel.
Officers Wiggins and Allen worked Jena Wildlife Management Area (WMA) for illegal hunting. During the land patrol, the officers located a vehicle tire sign and foot sign. The officers followed this sign into a thick secluded area, locating three hunting blinds baited with corn and peanut butter. Numerous trees, along with trash, been discarded and rat poisoning placed around the blinds. After several weeks of working the baited ground blinds in the WMA the officers captured the suspect. Through investigation and interviews the officers determined that the individual had been hunting and baiting this area of the WMA for over a year. Charges were filed with the state attorney for baiting in the WMA; placing hunting equipment before hunting season; cutting trees; driving metal object into trees; placing poison in the WMA; littering and driving off named or numbered roads.
Officers Allen and Cline were on land patrol in GilchristCounty when Officer Cline spotted a suspicious vehicle parked near private property. Upon contact, the officers located a deer which had been shot with a rifle and covered in peanut vines in the bed of the truck. Lieutenant Williams and Canine Officer Gill responded to assist. Through investigation and interviews the officers located two rifles. One was hidden in the bushes near the vehicle and the other was hidden under the hood of the suspect’s vehicle. A further search of the vehicle revealed a bag of meth and a small meth lab in the vehicle. The suspect was arrested and booked into the Gilchrist County Jail for possession of deer taken by an illegal method; possession of firearm by a convicted felon; possession of meth; possession of drug paraphernalia and the manufacture of methamphetamine.
Officers from the Duval/Nassau County Resource Protection Squad worked complaints of illegal migratory bird hunting activity in the marshes of Nassau County and observed people actively hunting for marsh hens. During the course of one morning, four misdemeanor citations were issued for violations of shooting from a vessel moving under mechanical power, and rallying birds with a motorized vessel. Several license violations and one over the bag limit violation were issued with infractions and warnings.
Resource Protection Officer McColgin, K9 Officer Stasko, K9 Pearson, Officers Thompson, Rogers and Raczek worked various areas in South Lee County. Officers were targeting illegal late night fishing activities. Officers used plain clothes surveillance in conjunction with uniformed officers. As the plain clothed officers observed violations, uniformed officers were given subject descriptions and told what the subjects were doing to avoid being caught with the illegal fish. In one night of patrol the officers made several resource violations to include; two subjects in possession of undersized and illegal method of taking snook, one subject was in possession of 2 undersized and illegal method of catching mangrove snapper, one subject for driving without a valid driver’s license, one subject for possession of 3 over the slot limit of black drum and one subject for possession of 3 over the slot limit and over the bag limit of redfish. Citations were also issued for no fishing license and no snook stamp.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
K-9 Officer Collazo along with Officers Fogle and Morrow participated in the Sears National Safety weekend held at the Sears store in Fort Myers. The two day event was designed to encourage the public to be aware of good safety practices. The officers had their patrol vehicles and patrol boat staged outside the building while handing out boating, fishing and hunting safety material. They also spoke with several adults and children about safe practices to exercise while recreating outdoors. There were other law enforcement agencies and first responders who participated in the event as well.
FWC partnered with USCG, Clearwater Police Department, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, and Clearwater Fire and Rescue to provide maritime public safety for the Clearwater Offshore Super Boat Races. There were several thousand spectator vessels in attendance. During the event, FWC Officers assisted the public by providing various maritime services. There was a medical emergency on a spectator vessel and FWC Officers quickly responded and started rendering aid. EMS personnel arrived shortly later, and the two agencies were able to remove the victim from the spectator vessel and then they transported him to the shore based EMS command post. Additionally, FWC investigated a minor boating accident. All in all, the multiagency detail was an excellent event that tens of thousands of people were able to safely enjoy.
Officers Martinez and Baker were on land patrol in the area of the Friendship Trail. While on patrol the two officers performed a fisheries inspection on a subject fishing from the shoreline. The inspection revealed that the subject had caught and kept an undersized red fish. The individual was issued a criminal citation and given a notice to appear in court for PinellasCounty.
SOUTH REGION A
Officer Wright received a call from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in reference to a diver with a speared snook. When Officer Wright arrived he spoke to the subject and asked him to retrieve the snook from his vehicle. After inspecting the snook, Officer Wright found the spear holes and cited the subject for illegal methods of taking snook.
Officer Defeo was conducting fisheries inspections on Deerfield Pier. He inspected a subject’s cooler and saw what appeared to be several undersized gray snapper. The subject said the snapper was over 8 inches. Officer Defeo advised the subject that the snapper had to be at least 10 inches. A records check showed that the subject had been warned for a snapper size violation a few days prior. Officer Defeo cited the subject for possession of 3 undersized gray snapper.
Officer Forrest and Lieutenant Harp received a call in reference to an overdue airboat in Area 2. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department helicopter spotted the airboat and relayed its location. Officer Forrest and Lieutenant Harp headed out to the location while the PBSO helicopter went to refuel. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office sent out their helicopter to help in the search also. After several hours, the overdue airboat was guided back to the boat ramp by Officer Forrest and Lieutenant Harp.
During a re-inspection of a pet facility in Sunrise Florida, Investigator Corteguera found captive wildlife violations pertaining to housing wildlife in an unsafe manner posing danger to the public, maintaining wildlife in a manner that prevents them from moving, maintaining wildlife in caging not equipped as required and maintaining wildlife in unsanitary conditions. The facility was issued 4 criminal citations for the violations.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Officers Church and Trawinski stopped a vessel at the Boynton Beach Boat Ramp at approximately 3:30 am. During the safety inspection, it was determined the occupants were returning from a fishing trip. While preforming a fisheries inspection, the Officers discovered a cooler containing 5 undersized vermillion snapper, 5 undersized yellowtail snapper, and 1 undersized mutton snapper. After being advised of their Miranda Rights, one of the occupants claimed ownership of all the fish and was cited accordingly for the size limit violations and warned for the bag limit violation.
Officers Carroll, Doricchi and Newman responded to MacArthur Beach State Park in Palm Beach County in response to complaints of a nude man on the beach. Officers arrived and made contact with the man who was sunbathing nude in the State Park. The man was escorted out of the park and issued a trespass warning at the request of the park management.
Officer LeBlanc completed the removal process for a derelict vessel at the Burt Reynold’s Boat Ramp. The owner of the vessel had been living on the sailboat and started a fire on board the vessel. The fire spread, destroying the sailboat before it sunk in shallow water along the shoreline. Working with the Lagoon Keepers organization, Officer LeBlanc quickly processed the reports and notifications required to authorize the removal and disposal of the derelict vessel.
Officer Alford and Lieutenant Brown stopped a vessel at Alvin Ward Boat Ramp for boating safety and migratory bird inspections. Upon doing so, it was discovered that one of the subjects on board had an open warrant out of CollierCounty. The warrant was confirmed and extradition granted from Glades to Collier. The subject was arrested and booked into the Glades County Jail. The subject was also warned for not having a federal duck stamp.
Officer Alford and Lieutenant Brown responded to a disabled vessel at the end of MooreHavenCanal. The officers assisted the two occupants of the vessel to get the engine running. The officers followed the vessel into Alvin Ward Boat Ramp.
At approximately 5:00 pm, Investigator Douglas observed several individuals hunting doves in an open field. Assisted by Officers M. Davis, J. Davis, LaFoy, Hofheinz and Reserve Officer Allen, they conducted at regulatory inspection at the location. Freshly distributed cracked corn was observed in the field during the inspection. Subsequently, 9 subjects were issued citations for taking migratory birds over bait.
SOUTH REGION B
Officers Johnson, Richards and Foell were on water patrol on the 12-meter Interceptor. The officers stopped a commercial spiny lobster vessel west of Key West to conduct a marine fisheries inspection. The inspection revealed 65 undersized lobsters in a live-well onboard. A plastic bag was also found onboard which contained two wrung spiny lobster tails, one of which was undersized. The subject was cited accordingly.
Officer Plussa was patrolling Tom's Harbor Channel Shoreline off of Duck Key when he observed a group fishing. Officer Plussa greeted the first man and asked him if he had caught any fish. When he looked at the officer, he continued to fish and would not respond, Officer Plussa repeated the question. The suspect again looked at the officer but refused to respond. Officer Plussa attempted to ask him in Spanish due to the possibility of him not understanding. The suspect responded rudely to the officer in English that he understood him the first time and to stop bothering him. Officer Plussa politely educated the suspect as to the reason for their encounter. An inspection of his cooler nearby revealed multiple undersized schoolmaster snapper, the largest measuring four inches. The suspect received a citation for failing to possess a valid fishing license and a misdemeanor for the grossly undersized fish.
Officer Plussa was patrolling Tom's HarborBridge for fisheries in State Greenways and Trails violations. Upon seeing Officer Plussa approaching, three men put down their fishing gear and began throwing fish from their cooler over the side of the bridge. Officer Plussa hurried to their position, but was unable to identify the fish they had thrown over. He observed them each in possession of alcoholic beverages, which is posted as exclusively prohibited on state Greenways and Trails at the start of the bridge and neither of the men had fishing licenses. All three were cited for not having fishing licenses and for possession of alcohol on State Greenways. One of the men lied to Officer Plussa about his name and was issued a misdemeanor for providing false identification to a law enforcement officer.
In response to the recent rise in endangered Key Deer being hit and killed by speeding vehicles. Officers Plussa, Mason and Piekenbrock participated in a targeted enforcement detail for the night time Key Deer Speed Zone on Big Pine Key. The posted night time speed limit is 35 mph and most cars were stopped for traveling over 60 mph. The detail concluded with a total of two warnings, nine traffic citations, three criminal traffic citations due to excessive speeds of 25 miles over the limit and two misdemeanors for driving without a license.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Dube attended a Career Fair held at Florida Keys Community College in Key West. Officer Dube set up a table and a static display for potential applicants. The event was attended by approximately 300 college students as well community members.
Officer Dube assisted the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla in Islamorada with teaching portions of the “Boat Smart” Boating class at the History of Diving Museum in Islamorada. Officer Dube explained the importance of our Boating Safety laws and regulations along with the rules of the road. All the students passed the Boating Test and received their certificate.
Officer Dube attended the Annual “Take your Dad to Work Day” at PlantationKeySchool, where his son attends. The event was sponsored by the MonroeCountySchool system for teachers to show off their new IPads and computers. Students gave demonstrations to all dads in attendance on some of the new technology that is available.
An officer was on late night patrol when he observed a vessel with 2 subjects onboard returning to Dinner Key Boat Ramp. As the officer approached the vessel, one of the subjects dumped some fish into the water. The officer was able to secure the subjects and asked a bystander that was launching a vessel to retrieve the fish that were still floating. The officer recovered twelve yellowtail snappers, three of which were undersized and one undersized mutton snapper. The subjects had a cooler onboard with twenty other snappers. The officer also recovered a very undersized, wrung spiny lobster tail from the transom area of the vessel. The subjects were cited for all of the fisheries violations as well as Interference with an FWC Officer.
Officers Kleis and White were on water patrol when they stopped a vessel to perform a vessel safety inspection. The Officers immediately noticed the smell of an alcoholic substance coming from the vessel. A closer look showed multiple empty beer bottles and liquor bottles throughout the vessel. During the inspection of the safety equipment, the operator showed multiple signs of impairment including loss of balance and slurred speech. Officer White asked the operator if he had been drinking and the operator admitted to drinking several beers. Officer Kleis conducted Seated Field Sobriety Tasks on the operator. The operator was subsequently arrested and booked into the Collier County Jail for Boating Under the Influence.
Officer Kleis, along with members of the Collier County Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services, attended Kmart’s Annual National Safety Weekend hosted by the Golden Gate Kmart. Officer Kleis brought an alligator to show the children in attendance and answered general questions about safety and the duties of an FWC Officer. The event allowed the public see all of the different types of emergency vehicles and gain an understanding of how the different agencies work together.