Community Relations Division...............................................  June 2003Edition


Note: There will be no Community News issue out in July. The next issue will be out August 4, 2003.


Sheriff's Report:

Hurricane season is here. I want to remind you all to have a disaster plan in place for yourself and your family. Know what you will do when a hurricane approaches and have plenty of necessary supplies on hand so you don't have to fight the last minute shopping crowds that inevitably appear when a hurricane approaches. There are some other things you should do to prepare yourself ahead of time for the possibility of a storm strike in the Keys.

Remember to pick up re-entry stickers for your cars if you don't already have one. They are available at any Sheriff's Office building or county tag office. The stickers will facilitate your re-entry to the county after a hurricane passes. If you don't have a sticker, deputies stationed in Florida City will need to see proof that you live or own property in Monroe County before letting you return.

Keep in mind, though, evacuees will only be allowed back in to the county when officials determine that it is safe. If you evacuate, you should listen to television and radio reports and wait to return until county officials announce that it is time for you to do so. There will be a staging area in Florida City where returning evacuees will be directed, but the area will not be comfortably equipped for long stays. For your own safety and comfort, stay put until you are directed to return.

There are two phone numbers you should take with you when you leave. The Monroe County Emergency Information line is 1-800-955-5504. Volunteers will be answering that line after the Emergency Operations Center is activated, and will be able to provide up to date information about the county's status in relation to the existing emergency situation. The State Office of Emergency Management also has their Florida Emergency Information Line, which is also activated in the event of an emergency and which will have up-to-date information available about Monroe County if a hurricane hits. That phone number is 1-800-342-3557.

The Sheriff's Office web site and the County's web site both offer extensive resources to educate you about preparing for a storm and dealing with a storm before, during and after it happens. On the Sheriff's Office site, the information is located at http://www.keysso.net/pio/tropical/tropical.htm and on the County's web site, the information is at http://www.co.monroe.fl.us/pages/hurrican/hprepcov.htm. Spend some time acquainting yourself with local shelter locations for your area and evacuation routes. If you are a person with special needs and you need help with evacuation to a shelter, or evacuation out of the county, contact Monroe County Social Services. Information about the Monroe County Special Needs Registry and contact information for Social Services can be found at http://www.co.monroe.fl.us/pages/hurrican/ssneeds.htm.

Rest assured there are many dedicated Sheriff's Office and county employees who will be stationed in the Emergency Operations Center in Marathon for the duration of any major emergency, working to keep you as safe as possible. We have all trained exhaustively to make sure we know what to do and you can rely on the recommendations issued from the EOC to help you make crucial decisions when a hurricane or other disaster occurs.

Take care, and stay safe.

   Sheriff, Monroe County


General News

Traffic information on the Sheriff's Web Site

 In an effort to keep citizens up to date about road conditions, the Sheriff's Office is offering two new sections of the web site which should be useful to everyone driving on Highway U.S. One. You can see up to date information about traffic accidents, and other road impediments on www.keysso.net.

On our Traffic Enforcement pages of the site (http://www.keysso.net/patrol_ops/traffic/traffic.htm), citizens and members of the media will find information from the Florida Department of Transportation, and from the Sheriff's Office about planned road or lane closures on the highway, as well as special events which may impede traffic.

On the Sheriff's WebCAD (http://www.keysso.net/pio/cfs_offense/webcad.htm), which features live calls for service as they are happening, citizens and members of the media will find information about serious accidents occurring on the highway. A serious accident would include those expected to impede traffic for a significant length of time, and/or those involving serious injuries or hazardous materials. The information on WebCAD includes where the accident is and when it happened, what agency is investigating the accident, how many cars are involved, whether the road is closed or not, and, if available, an estimate of how long the road is expected to be affected by the accident. 

The Overseas Highway is the only roadway running the length of our island chain, and the Sheriff's Office realizes the importance it plays in all of our lives. The Florida Highway Patrol is the primary agency that investigates accidents on the Highway. The Sheriff's Office simply lends support in the form of traffic control at most accident scenes. But in the interests of keeping people as informed as possible about traffic related issues, the Sheriff's Office determined it was important to find a way to let people know the most important information about serious accidents that take place.

 As a reminder, no one should call Sheriff's Office dispatchers to check traffic conditions. Dispatchers are extremely busy answering emergency calls and don't have time to issue traffic reports. Instead, tune in local radio stations or, if you have a computer available, visit the Sheriff's Office web site at www.keysso.net. 


Sector 7:
By Captain Jennifer Bell-Thomson, Commander Sector 7

On Tuesday, August 5 from 6 9pm, upper Keys Neighborhood Crime Watch members in our area will participate in National Night Out, a nationwide celebration of the effectiveness of the crime watch program.

While plans are still tentative, the group is working on a family style picnic to be held at Key Largo Community Park. Information tables will be set up by law enforcement and fire departments, as well as other government agencies, to give information on the services they provide.

Several crime watch members are also searching for entertainment for the evening.

All members of the public are invited to this event where we hope to encourage people to increase their participation in the Neighborhood Crime Watch program. If anyone is interested in helping with the event, or wants more information on Neighborhood Crime Watch, please call the Plantation Key Substation, 853-3211.


The City of Marathon and Sector 5
By Captain Robert P. Peryam, Commander, Marathon District

This month I would like to talk to you about traffic safety, your children and your property.

Always wear your seatbelt in the manner in which it was designed to be worn and make sure everyone else in your vehicle does too. Drive with safety in mind, especially when children are at risk such as in neighborhoods, school zones, play areas and parks. If you observe reckless driving in you neighborhood call the Sheriff's Office Traffic Enforcement Unit. We have the ability to come to your neighborhood, survey the situation and access the problem. We can then address the problem with a number of countermeasures up to and including additional traffic enforcement in the area.

Make sure your children wear approved bicycle helmets. Not only is it the law that children under the age of 16 wear a helmet when riding a bike anywhere but it is your child's best measure of protection against serious injury in even minor accidents. If you are going to ride a bicycle after the hours of darkness you must have a light which can be seen by oncoming traffic and pedestrians. This is not only for your protection but for theirs as well so keep in mind that it is your responsibility.

 

Always turn off your engine, lock the ignition and take your keys when leaving your car unattended for any period of time. This means even on your own property. Many vehicles that have been stolen were driven away by a car thief who was presented an easy opportunity to do so by an owner who had left the keys in the car. Thieves know many people leave their keys on the floorboard or in the sun visor - don't do that - take them with you. If your car is stolen and a Sheriff's Deputy sees it being driven and attempts to stop the thief, innocent people may be put into a dangerous situation. Don't let that happen - let's decrease auto thefts starting today by not giving the car thieves an easy opportunity.

 

Traffic Safety is YOUR business. You are the one driving the car so the responsibility to keep yourself, your passengers, the motoring public and pedestrians free from injury is yours. Lets all work together to safeguard our community and our children. If there is anything that we can do for you please stop in or call me at the Marathon

Sub-Station at 289-2430.


Sector One: the Lower Keys
By Captain Rick Ramsay, Commander Sector One

Sector Lieutenant Retires: Sector One is saying goodbye to Station Commander Lt. George Simpson (who is retiring with the honorary title of Captain). Captain Simpson has been with the department since August 23, 1979 as a Corrections Officer at the old Key West Detention Facility. During his career with the Sheriff's Office he obtained his Law Enforcement Certification and has held the positions of a Deputy Sheriff, Corporal, Road Patrol Sergeant, Road Patrol and Special Investigations Lieutenant and is now retiring as a Law Enforcement Captain on June 30, 2003 .  Taking his place is Lt. Mitch Snider, who comes to Sector One from the Training Division.

Don't be an easy target for crime: While this is a very safe County and we all should feel secure here, that does not mean that crime does not exist and that you will never be a victim of crime. We strive to do the best that we can to make your lives as safe and secure as possible, but we still need your help. We always need the citizens to be an extra set of eyes and to tell us what is going on within your neighborhoods. You live there and know what is unusual and what is normal. Who should be there and who should not be there. We do not want you to confront people or become involved in potentially dangerous situations, however. We want you to contact us if you see something that is not normal and/or suspicious.

Many crimes in our county are crimes of opportunity. These types of crimes are, for the most part, easily preventable. For instance, when you leave your vehicle, do not leave your purse, camera, computers or other valuable items in plain view. You are asking for someone to break your window and steal your property. Do not keep large amounts of cash with you and if you do have a large sum of cash, keep it out of sight do not display it in front of people. Lock your home while you are there and when you leave. Many homes are burglarized because people leave their homes unlocked and make it easy for a burglar to enter. Lock your vehicle when it's not in use even when it's parked in front of your home. Kids like to enter unlocked vehicles to steal change and other items, and unlocked vehicles are also a target for car theft. After boating put your rods, reels and dive gear away. Equipment lying on a dock or easily accessible in a rod holder is an extremely easy target for theft. Criminals have been known to use small boats to cruise up and down canals looking for these items.


County News

Bringing Monroe County Building & Code Enforcement Online

One-Stop-Shop 

The Monroe County Building & Code Enforcement Departments are pleased to announce the debut of their new state of the art ONE-STOP-SHOP online services. This online Internet Kiosk for the Encompass Community Development System, is driven by software that provides the public with the ability to search and display information about property records, permits, contractors, licenses and other related information contained within Encompass. Additionally, it allows individuals to download applications for, as well as check the status of permits. It also allows qualified individuals to request inspections and update-related information over the Internet. "This brings us into the 21st Century of E-Government services," stated Joe Paskalik, Director of the Monroe County Building Department. 

The One Stop Shop website provides assistance and information with its many functions. The property search function allows you to search and display property information such as assessment, ownership, zoning and other demographic information. Property may be searched using common request information and when found can be linked to related permit information. This function may be linked to an Internet accessible Geographic Information System

Contractor Search allows you to search and display contractor information like contact, certification and licensing information. Optionally, it also permits access to information regarding recent projects within the community.

 Permit Status provides real time information regarding the permit application and plan review status, (including reviewer notes). It also allows the display of inspection schedules and complete result information for qualified persons.

 Permit Applications gives the contractor or property owner the ability to download a permit application for approved permit types. Applications along with plans and all appropriate Documentation and Approvals can then be submitted to one of the Building Department locations. 

Inspection Request provides qualified individuals with the ability to request inspections online. Existing inspection information for the affected permit is available, pending inspections can be rescheduled as needed. Requests are immediately reflected in the system for access by inspectors and scheduling personnel. 

Code Enforcement tracks complaints and ordinance violations from initial contact through board agenda and displays the detail case information as well as the inspections/events. A variety of search methods are provided for flexibility, and help ensure fast, accurate results. 

You can access the new One-Stop-Shop online at http://oss.monroecounty-fl.gov. The Monroe County Building Department is excited about bringing this online service to the public. It is an effective way to deliver a high level of service to residents and customers. The One-Stop-Shop provides citizens and businesses with easier, more convenient access to government services, while saving time and dollars for everyone.

Monroe County Fire Rescue Donates Portable Defibrillator

Monroe County Fire Rescue recently donated an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) to Fiesta Key Resort on Long Key. This portable device assists the staff at the resort by stabilizing a cardiac arrest victim until the Fire Rescue department arrives. Fishermen's Hospital staff provided AED training and certification to Fiesta Key Resort staff as part of their "Heart Safe" Public Access Defibrillation Program.

 The cooperative effort to provide life saving techniques to isolated portions of Monroe County was the intent of the Conch Key Volunteer Fire Department's Board of Directors who generously donated the AEDs to the County. The former Board of Directors of the Conch Key Volunteer Fire Department purchased the AED's using money donated during annual fund-raisers. The Board has since dissolved, leaving the equipment to Monroe County Fire Rescue, who must now fulfill their wishes to benefit the Keys.

 In addition to the AED donated to Fiesta Key Resort, the cooperative efforts of Monroe County Fire Rescue and Fishermen's Hospital staff are working to train and certify staff at Hawk's Cay Resort. The ownership of another AED will transfer to Hawk's Cay following the completion of their training and certification.

From the left: Monroe Co. Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Steve Zavalney, Pat Larcomb (KOA), Tom Brooks (KOA), Larry Gerkin (KOA), Fishermen's Hosp. Director of Nursing Sue Martenson, Fishermen's Hosp. CEO Rick Rice, Monroe Co. Fire Chief Clark Martin.

Crime Prevention Tips of the Month:

Innovative crime prevention techniques: The best security systems are often the most unfamiliar. For example, one man, who is frequently away from home for long stretches, was the target of a break-in some time ago. He didn't want to spend a fortune on a high-end security system and figured that skilled thieves probably could outsmart such a system anyway. What did he do? He bought two dozen red laser pointer pen lights. He positioned them across his windows and he turns them on when he leaves town. To anyone looking at the house, it appears as though he has an ultra-high-tech laser beam security system.

There are many inexpensive ways to help make your home secure. Put a sticker in your window indicating you have an alarm. This will scare off many would be burglars. Place "Beware of dog" signs on fences and gates. Most burglars will avoid breaking in to homes where dogs might bite them. Use your imagination, as in the above example. Come up with unique ways to make your property less desirable as a target.

Charitable Contributions: Make sure you know which charity you are giving to. There may be several with similar names. Ask questions before donating. Don't be swept up by emotion. Insist on details about what the charity does, for example if the charity says it helps children, find out specifically how, where and when. Remember: not all non-profit organizations are charities. Donations to non-charities are not tax deductible. If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of the organization, ask them to mail you information so you can check it over more closely before giving. If they are legitimate, they should have no trouble complying with the request.

Keeping kids safe: For information about how to keep your children safe, how to prevent abductions, internet safety, and for information about medical safety issues, visit this web site: www.safechild.net.

This letter is not really from the IRS, from the Sheriff's Star magazine: With tax season still on everyone's mind, as well as the fear that a letter from the IRS can create in even the most honest of citizens, con artists have concocted a new scam to pull on an unsuspecting public.

The Internal Revenue Service has warned of a fraudulent scheme that uses fictitious bank correspondence and IRS forms to trick taxpayers into disclosing their personal and banking data. The information is then used to steal the taxpayer's identity, credit and money. This is how the scam works. The official looking letter states that the bank must update its records to pinpoint customers who are exempt from the withholding tax on interest paid on their bank accounts. The mailing includes what looks like an official Internal Revenue Service form, called Form W-9095, which asks for your personal information. In fact, the letter actually mentions the name of your bank.

Legally, banks must report interest to the IRS and taxpayers must include it as income, so it would seem that this "bank" correspondence is actually legitimate.

There's also an urgency to the appeal. The letter tells recipients they must fax the completed form to a specific number within seven days or lose the reporting and withholding exemption, resulting in withholding of 31 percent on the account's interest.

Once faxed, of course, the scam artists use the information to impersonate the taxpayer and gain access to their finances.

If you receive such correspondence, contact your bank and immediately report the letter to officials. Call the Treasury Inspector General Tax Administration's hot line at 800-366-4484, or fax a complaint to 202-927-7018. The TIGTA's web site is located at www.ustreas.gov/tigta.

A copy of the scam letter and phony W-9095 may be found on the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's web site at www.occ.treas.gov.

Remember: giving away private information can lead to a financial mess. Such information can be used to steal your money and your good name and can severely damage your credit record. If you have questions about financial scams, you can contact the Sheriff's Office Community Relations Division for more information at 305-292-7116, or email Crime Watch Coordinator Deputy Emil LaVache at elavache@keysso.net.


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Deputy Becky Herrin, Public Information Officer and Web Author or Sheriff Richard Roth via e-mail
For other phone and e-mail contact information, see the "Contact Information" page.
  

This web site was last updated Thursday February 26, 2004


 
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