Health insurance and budget issues are the current concerns for
our agency. I want to let you all know, up front, where these issues stand.
Health insurance is the issue of the day for most of our
employees, now that the county has opted to reduce benefits and increase both
the percentage employees pay overall, as well as the yearly deductible and
dependent care costs. I won't tell you I'm happy about the decision - this
reduction in employee benefits will definitely cause many problems for our
agency when it comes to retention of current employees, and the hiring and
retention of new employees.
The Sheriff's Office already has a very high employee turnover
rate - 18.23% for last year. In 2002, we lost 93 people: 28 deputies, 32
Corrections Officers, and 33 Support staff . Much of this turnover is due to the
high cost of living in the Keys - the highest cost of living in the state of
Florida. Additionally, we are losing the fight when it comes to salaries: our
starting salaries are lower overall than other law enforcement agencies in the
county as well as compared to Dade County, Broward County and Palm Beach
Counties, our main competitors for employees. Now, we are seeing our benefits
I'm not sure there is an easy solution to any of this. The cost
of health insurance across the country continues to rise. Our county is not
alone in that. In some places government agencies have chosen to continue
subsidizing insurance for their employees, raising taxes to cover the increased
costs. They know that a good benefit package is essential to the retention of
good employees. Monroe County has chosen a different goal: holding the line on
If the goal of county commissioners is to hold the line on taxes,
then we may have very little choice with these matters. Right now, our health
insurance is tied to the County insurance pool. We are looking at all possible
options when it comes to alternative insurance, but for now, it appears our
employees will see increased insurance costs and decreased benefits.
When it comes to raises, and our efforts to maintain competitive
salaries, we are also between a rock and a hard place. The county has asked us
to hold the line, and keep any overall budget increase to 2.4%. Our basic
expenses for running the jail can be counted on to increase on a yearly basis.
We're going to ask for a 2.4% salary increase along with the increases for
If we were to hold our budget increase to 2.4% as requested, the
only option left would be cutting services we provide to the citizens of the
county. We've really reached a point where it is difficult to identify any
"non-essential" positions to cut. We may, by necessity, be forced to begin
cutting some of our law enforcement related programs. Reducing some programs
will, without a doubt, affect our ability to prevent crime, and keep people safe
on our roadways, in our schools and in our neighborhoods.
and stay safe.
Sheriff’s Office participates in Coastal Clean up
Members of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office participated
in the April 25th Coastal Cleanup sponsored by The Marine Conservancy. Two
groups participated, one from the lower Keys and one from the upper Keys.
||In the lower Keys, Sheriff’s dive team
members cleaned in the area around Boca Chica Bridge, at the 7 mile
marker of the highway. They picked up an estimated 50 golf balls, at
least 50 bottles and cans, various fishing lures and approximately two
hundred feet of monofilament fishing line, as well as other debris.
|The upper Keys group, comprised of members of the
Monroe County Sheriff's Office Islamorada District, the Sheriff’s
Office Dive Team as well as members of the Federal Department of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the State Attorney's Office, cleaned
the area of Crocker Reef and the Sand Bar off Holiday Isle recovering
a large quantity of trash and debris including bottles, cans and
fishing line. Tavernier Dive Center donated equipment to assist with
the upper Keys cleanup.
Cadets Raffle Off Boat
Click here to see a flyer
with more information
The Sheriff's Office Explorer/Cadet
Program is raising money by raffling off a 22 foot center console Sea
Cat boat. The boat is valued at $42,000.00, and is powered by 2
Suzuki 115 hp 4 Stroke Engines. They are only selling 6000 raffle
tickets for just $10.00 per ticket. People can purchase a ticket from
any Sheriff's Office Cadet, or they can call (305)292-7116 or toll free
1-800-273-COPS (2677) and a ticket will be delivered in person, or
mailed to you depending on the your location. The drawing will be held
June 2nd. The raffle is sponsored by Portside Marine of Key Largo.
Cuban Planes to be Auctioned
Cuban planes seized by the Sheriff's Office in March and April of this
year will be sold
June 2nd at two separate
auctions held on the same day. The auctions will take place Monday, June
2nd beginning at 11 a.m. at the Key West International Airport in
Key West. The DC-3 and the AN-24 were seized by the Monroe County
Sheriff’s Office Civil Division after receipt of orders from Miami-Dade
Circuit Court directing that they be seized to partially satisfy a
judgment in the case ANA MARGARITA MARTINEZ, Plaintiff, vs. THE REPUBLIC
OF CUBA, Defendant (CASE NO. 99-18208 CA 20).
The planes are described as
Both planes will be sold to
the highest bidder. There is no minimum bid set for either auction.
There will be a public inspection held the day before the auction,
Sunday, June 1st, between 2
p.m. and 4 p.m. People
interested in either the inspection, the auction or both should
pre-register with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office of Civil Process,
Director Kirk Bondurant, by calling 295-3677, sending email to
email@example.com or faxing a letter to 295-3670. To see photos of
the DC-3, along with photos of the AN-24 recently seized after it was
hijacked to the U.S., visit the Sheriff’s Office web site at
attend public meetings with residents we find that the biggest
complaint is traffic problems in their neighborhoods. In an
effort to address this problem, for the past month and a half
deputies have been working a special overtime detail, paid for
by seized funds. Their mission has been to strictly enforce
traffic laws in neighborhoods, and to also provide high
visibility patrol in areas where neighbors have complained
about noise, a high volume of traffic, and disorderly conduct.
neighborhoods we initially chose to focus on were those where
we had received numerous complaints about speeding. This
situation occurs mostly in neighborhoods where the main street
into the area is a long one – Burton Drive, Ocean Bay Drive,
and Atlantic Boulevard, for example. There were 12 such
streets identified. Additionally, there were seven other
areas within neighborhoods where disturbances frequently
was scheduled to be random during the week, but every Friday
and Saturday, and at different blocks of time during the day
and night. Initially, deputies stayed quite busy, but as time
went on and word got out about our efforts, the activity
decreased dramatically. As that activity decreased, some
neighborhoods were dropped from the detail and others added.
Overall, deputies issued 54 written citations, 92 written
warnings and made three arrests during this detail.
Additionally, there were numerous contacts with juveniles who
were gathering at locations where they did not have permission
detail has now ended, deputies on their regular shifts are
encouraged to continue to monitor traffic in
neighborhoods. Our traffic enforcement division also spends
time enforcing traffic laws in neighborhoods throughout the
county. I believe this is an problem that requires constant
vigilance by the sheriff’s office.
One of the
other ways we attempt to control traffic is by using our
electronic radar sign. This is the sign that flashes red if
an oncoming vehicle is exceeding the speed limit. This is a
very effective tool and we keep it operating constantly.
Unfortunately, the sign was recently the victim of vandalism
and is down for repairs. We do intend to put it back in a
neighborhood as soon as those repairs are complete.
method of slowing traffic in neighborhoods is to create 4 way
stops along these long streets. Members of the Ocean Bay
Crime Watch group are supporting this idea for Ocean Bay Drive
where it intersects with East Drive and also Ocean Shores
Drive. There are several other neighborhoods where we believe
this will be an effective means of slowing traffic but before
we move forward we need to determine if a majority of the
residents are in favor of it. We plan to hold neighborhood
meetings in the future to discuss this idea with homeowners.
If you have any questions or input, please contact me at
month’s newsletter, I wrote that the money used for the
purchase of the old Mariner’s Hospital, and the renovation of
the sheriff’s portion of the building came from seized funds,
not taxpayer dollars. It was brought to my attention by the
sheriff’s administrative bureau chief that $340,000.00 of
those funds actually came from county impact fees. I stand
corrected and apologize for that misinformation.
What to do when you call 911
Tips from your friendly
neighborhood Sheriff's Office Dispatchers
By Communications Officer Debra Shepherd
What if I call 911 by
call 911 by mistake, please don't hang up. Stay on the phone
and tell the dispatcher that you made a mistake. The
sheriff's office calls back all 911 hang ups and verifies that
the person on the other end of the line is okay. If the line
is busy or nobody answers and an address is available, a
deputy is sent to the location to check on the people
inside or in the immediate vicinity.
be time consuming, and happens most often when a homeowner
accidentally calls 911 instead of 411 and then is afraid to
pick up the phone when the sheriff's office calls them
back. Don't be afraid to admit it was a mistake....it will
save us both time and trouble.
What to do when you call 911 for a real emergency:
call 911, please try to answer all of the dispatcher's
questions before hanging up the phone. Every question asked
has a purpose. The questions might sound mundane and may not
make any sense to you, but might be vital to the deputy or
fire/rescue person who is responding to your call.
hang up the phone until the dispatcher tells you it's okay to
do so. Sometimes we keep callers on the phone until the first
officer arrives when they are reporting a crime or situation
progress, or when lives and property might be in danger.
world, virtually everyone has a cell phone. Many of these
people have 911 on their cell phone speed dial systems so they
can call at the touch of one number. Dozens of times during a
shift, we will receive 911 calls from such cell phones -
presumably accidental calls. In the background we can hear
the people having dinner, driving in their vehicles or
fishing. They have simply pushed that number on their cells
phones by accident, and don't even realize it. When we receive
these calls, we try to call the number back to let the person
on the other end know that their cell phone is active. They
are usually very surprised and apologize for the
inconvenience. It's just another aspect as to how cell
phones have impacted all of our lives.
County Library System has a new website
Library Advisory Board Members help Mayor Spehar &
Commissioner McCoy launch keyslibraries.org website.
information has always been available on the County website,
but with the debut of keyslibraries.org, the Library has it's
own fully developed website, featuring information about the
library branches' hours, location and services, Friends of
Library groups, and special pages for kids.
website, patrons are now able to access the catalog for the
entire Library system from their home computers, and can renew
and request books, videos, and other materials at their
also features book reviews and synopses. Library patrons have
24/7 access to other Library databases such as NetLibrary,
which features electronic books, travel guides, and reference
materials. The Gale database features full-text newspapers,
journals, and magazines. Library is offering a new feature on
a trial basis, the "Chapter-a-Day virtual book club" which
sends book excerpts by e-mail to its readers, from an
assortment of mysteries, Young Adult features, non-fiction and
This project first got its
start 6 years ago with a group of Library Services &
Technology Act (LSTA) grants to the Library system for
computer hardware and software. Since that time the Library
System has become automated and computerized, and provides
Internet access for over 100,000 library users a year.
"The time and effort of many
people contributed to this website becoming a reality, from
the Reference Librarian, to the Big Pine Key Branch Manager,
the County Manager of Communications and Website, and the
Director of Technical Services and crew. " stated Norma Kula
Director of Libraries.
The Monroe County Public
Library developed the website for the over 430, 000 Library
patrons that visit them per year to use and enjoy, featuring
current, up-to-date, and useful information. The web address
for the Monroe County Public Library is
Cudjoe Fire Station gets New
Monroe County Fire Rescue announced last week the arrival of
their new pumper engine. The International 4400 Contender Plus
is a 330 horse power pumper engine which includes a hydraulic ladder
and 1000 gallon water tank.
In order to save time and
money Monroe County purchased the unit using a "Piggyback"
contract from Lake County Florida and received the same best
price thru the Ten - 8 Fire Equipment Company, the local
distributor. The new engine will serve the primary
response area of Cudjoe, Sugarloaf and Summerland Keys. It
replaces a 1978 American LaFrance pumper that will go into
reserve service. You can take a closer look at the new engine
at the Cudjoe Fire Station,
MM #20, 20950
Overseas Hwy., Cudjoe Key.
The Monroe County Sheriff's
Office is accepting applications for the following positions:
Florida Certified Detention
Detention Deputies Trainees
(Academy starts July 14, 2003)
Detention Records Assistants
(Key West Jail Facility)
School Crossing Guard
Accounting Supervisor (Key
Please contact the Human
Resources Division at (305) 292-7044, for detailed job
information or visit our
on our web site.
The Monroe County is an Equal
Police Memorial Day Ceremony in the Keys is
The week of May 11 - 17 is
National Police Week
In October of 1962 President John F. Kennedy
signed Public Law 87-726 making May 15th Peace Officers
Memorial Day, and the week containing that date as National
Police Week. During this week, law enforcement agencies and
citizens around the country take time to remember those
officers killed while protecting and serving the citizens of
their respective jurisdictions.
In the Florida Keys, we will hold a ceremony
on May 23rd in the city of Key West, at Bayview Park, at 7
p.m. The public is encouraged to attend to help honor the six
local officers who have given their lives in the line of duty
over the years, as well as all officers killed during the past
year. In 2002, 157 Officers were killed in the line of duty in
the United States.
To see a list of Florida Keys officers killed
in the line of duty, and read about the circumstances of their
visit the web page dedicated to their memory by clicking here.
To hear more about officers killed in the United States, visit
the Officer Down Memorial Page at
Public Law 87-726 reads as follows:
Whereas the police officers of America have
worked devotedly and selflessly in behalf of the people of
this Nation, regardless of the peril or hazard to
Whereas these officers have safeguarded the
lives and property of their fellow Americans; and
Whereas by the enforcement of our laws,
these same officers have given our country internal freedom
from fear of the violence and civil disorder that is
presently affecting other nations;
Whereas these men and women by their
patriotic service and their dedicated efforts have earned
the gratitude of the Republic:
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and the House of
Representatives of the United States of America in Congress
assembled, That the President is authorized and
requested to issue proclamations (1) designating May
15 of each year as Peace Officers Memorial
Day in honor of the Federal, State, and municipal
officers who have been killed or disabled in the line of duty,
(2) directing the officials of the Government to display at
halfstaff the flag of the United States on all Government
buildings on such day, as provided by section 3(m) of the Act
of June 22, 1942 (Chapter 435; 56 Stat. 377; 36 U.S.C. 175),
(3) designating in each year the calendar week during which
such May 15 occurs as Police Week, in recognition of the
service given by the men and women who, night and day, stand
guard in our midst to protect us through enforcement of our
laws, and (4) inviting the governments of the States and
communities and the people of the United States to observe
such day and week with appropriate ceremonies and activities,
including the display at halfstaff of the flag of the United
Approved October 1, 1962.
Amended by Public Law 103-322 in 1994:
Public Law 87-726, signed by President John F.
Kennedy in 1962, was amended as above by the 103rd Congress as
part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of
1994. President Bill Clinton signed Public Law 103-322 which
directs that the flag of the United States on all Government
buildings be displayed at half-staff on May 15, National Peace
Officers' Memorial Day
May 18th to the 23rd is Hurricane Awareness
Governor Jeb Bush has declared May 18th to the
23rd "Hurricane Awareness Week" in the State of Florida. For a
wealth of information about Hurricanes, how to prepare for
them and for many useful links to other emergency preparedness
web sites, visit our
Hurricane Preparation web pages or the Florida Division of
Emergency Management at
May is National Bicycle Safety Month
During the month of May Deputies in the Upper
Keys are going to promote bicycle safety and the use of bike
helmets for National Bicycle Safety month. According to Safe
Bicycles are associated with more childhood
injuries than any other consumer product except the
More than 70 percent of children ages 5 to
14 (27.7 million) ride bicycles. This age group rides 50
percent more than the average bicyclist and accounts for
approximately 21 percent of all bicycle-related deaths and
nearly half of all bicycle-related injuries.
Head injury is the leading cause of death in
bicycle crashes and is the most important determinant of
bicycle-related death and permanent disability. Head
injuries account for more than 60 percent of bicycle-related
deaths, more than two-thirds of bicycle-related hospital
admissions and about one-third of hospital emergency room
visits for bicycling injuries.
The single most effective safety device
available to reduce head injury and death from bicycle
crashes is a helmet. Helmet use reduces the risk of
bicycle-related death and injury and the severity of head
injury when a crash occurs. Unfortunately, national estimate
report that bicycle helmet use among child bicyclist ranges
only from 15 to 25 percent.
Florida Law requires that a bicycle rider or
passenger who is under 16 years of age must wear a bicycle
helmet that is properly fitted and is fastened securely upon
the passenger's head by a strap, and that meet the standards
of the American Standard Institute (ANSI). The term
passenger includes a child who is riding in a trailer or
semi trailer attached to a bicycle.
in mind, deputies are going to reward
helmeted bicyclists 16 and under , with a flashing safety
button, inscribed " Be Smart-Stay Smart, Wear Your Helmet,"
provided by the Brain Injury Association of Florida. Those who
are not wearing their helmet will be issued a
their first contact. Subsequent offenses can result in a child
receiving a $15.00 citation.
Bicycle riders should also know that they have
all of the rights and all of the duties that apply to the
driver of any other vehicle. Which means, that bicyclists have
to obey all traffic laws like a car or motorcycle.
Citizen’s Crime Watch: Keep your
Monroe County Sheriff Rick Roth is a firm
believer in the Citizen’s Crime Watch Program, and he would
like more Crime Watches in his county.
“Citizen’s Crime Watch is a terrific way for
people to help keep their neighborhoods safe from crime,”
Sheriff Roth said. “It isn’t hard to set up a Crime Watch, and
it only takes a little time and effort on the part of
residents. Our current Crime Watch neighborhoods are a perfect
example of how the program works. We consistently see lower
crime in neighborhoods with active Crime Watch groups. Crime
Watch neighborhoods are definitely safer because people are
watching out for each other, and because our Crime Watch
members are educated in how to keep themselves, their families
and their neighborhoods safe.”
Citizen’s Crime Watch (CCW) members in a
particular neighborhood form a network of concerned citizens
dedicated to crime prevention. They work in partnership with
local law enforcement, becoming additional eyes and ears for
those agencies. Frequent Crime Watch meetings are held to
educate group members in crime prevention methods and
practices. Meetings also provide a venue for citizens to ask
questions and pass along concerns to law enforcement officers
working in their area of the Keys.
When a member of the Crime Watch sees a
suspicious person or vehicle, he or she should call the
Sheriff’s Office immediately. Through the use of a telephone
chain set up by the Crime Watch, members of the group can keep
each other informed of incidents taking place in their
neighborhood. Using this same telephone chain, and email when
applicable, CCW members receive information from law
enforcement concerning persons or vehicles sought by
authorities and about crimes and crime trends in their
particular area of the Keys.
All it takes is for one person in a
neighborhood to come forward and volunteer to be a Crime Watch
Chairperson. “We just need a point of contact – a person who
will act as Chairperson. We will do the rest,” says Captain
Jennifer Bell-Thomson. Captain Bell-Thomson is a true believer
in the value of the program and a staunch supporter of her
upper Keys Crime Watch neighborhoods. “We’ll contact
neighbors, schedule meetings and make sure the meetings are
interesting, informative and educational,” Captain
Captain Bell-Thomson is the Commander of
Sector 7, which includes neighborhoods between mile marker
90.2 (Tavernier Creek Bridge) and the county line at the 112
mile marker of Highway U.S. One, including Ocean Reef and
parts of Card Sound Road and State Road 905. “We have 27
active Crime Watch Groups, but we have over 40 subdivisions in
our area. We would like to see them all included in the
program,” she said.
“We not only make it easy to form a Crime
Watch group, it costs nothing and members receive all kinds of
free benefits,” said Crime Watch Coordinator Deputy Emil
LaVache. Deputy LaVache provides each group with free Crime
Watch signs to post in their neighborhood, along with house
decals, property engraving tools and many crime prevention
handouts with useful tips for making homes and neighborhoods
Sheriff Roth would like to see many more Crime
Watch groups formed throughout the Florida Keys. The Sheriff’s
Office currently has 100 such groups county wide with 25 in
Sector 1 (Stock Island to the south end of the Seven Mile
Bridge); 15 in Sector’s 4-5 (north end of the Seven Mile
Bridge to the south city limits of Islamorada), 33 in Sector 6
(the city of Islamorada) and 27 in Sector 7.
For more information about Citizens Crime
Watch, contact Crime Watch Coordinator Deputy Emil LaVache at
(305)292-7116 or call the Sheriff’s Substation in your area.
A recently published study shows that
improved street lighting in residential neighborhoods helped reduce crime
by 20 percent.
The review assesses why street lighting has this impact on
crime. The authors conclude that lighting increases community pride and
confidence and strengthens informal social control. The authors also
conclude that improvements in street lighting offer a cost-effective crime
reduction measure and should be considered an important element in
situational crime reduction programs.
To view the complete study in Adobe
Acrobat Reader format, click here.
If you want to improve the lighting in your
neighborhood, or around your place of business, contact your local
electric utility company. Street lights can be installed upon request, for
a nominal monthly fee.
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