April - June 2003

For more information, contact Deputy Becky Herrin, Public Information Officer for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. Her contact numbers are: office: (305)292-7116, FAX: (305)293-1734 and e-mail: beckyherrin@keysso.net.


June 5, 2003

Crime Stoppers 4th of July Run/Walk

Runners and walkers can win big prizes, have fun and help fight crime in the ninth annual Crime Stoppers Fourth of July Run and Walk at 7:30 a.m. at Smathers Beach in Key West. The first 200 entrants will receive tee shirts donated by First State Bank and designed by a local artist. This year’s event features a partnership with the Sheraton Suites Resort on S. Roosevelt Boulevard. The race course will start and end on the Smathers Beach side of the Boulevard, directly across from the Resort. The Sheraton is also featuring pre and post race events. On July 3 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. registrants can pick up their race packets and enjoy a special pasta dinner buffet for $9.95 and two for one drink specials. The Sheraton will also sponsor the post race party, featuring prize drawings, free beer, refreshments and presentation of awards to winners in the various race divisions. Trophies and medallions will be awarded to the first and second place winners in the various runner and walker categories. The Sheraton is also offering special room rates for out of town runners, who can enjoy the Key West experience during race week and the holiday weekend. For reservations, call the Sheraton toll free at 1-800-BEACH and ask for the “Crime Stoppers” rate. The Southernmost Runners Club handles the race and has set up the certified race course, which is a flat three stretch flanked by palm trees and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Crime Stoppers’ fundraiser always features great prizes, and this year is no different. Giveaways include airline tickets, car rentals, gift certificates from local merchants, weekend getaway vacations and special prizes for the youngest and oldest winners.

Entry forms can be picked up at the Sheraton Resort, Key West City Hall, local fitness centers, Key West Police Station and the Sheriff Office’s substations throughout the Keys. There will also be a registration booth on race morning at Smathers Beach, starting at six a.m. Runners and walkers can obtain registration forms or more information by calling the Sheriff’s Office Community Relations Division at 305-292-711, 1-800-273-COPS or the Race Coordinator, Barbara Wright at 305-296-7128. Cost for entering the race is $15 for pre-registration and $20 the day of the run/walk.

All proceeds benefit the anonymous tip reward fund of Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys, a non-profit corporation that assists law enforcement. So far this year, The Crime Stoppers 24-hour hotline (800-346-8477) has resulted in 20 arrests, 32 criminal cases cleared and the seizure or recovery of over thirty-seven thousand dollars worth of property, drugs and cash. The Crime Stoppers’ civilian board raises money to pay rewards to tipsters who provide the anonymous crime information.

 

May 20, 2003

Police Memorial Day Ceremony in the Keys is May 23rd

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. A ceremony will also be held at 2 p.m. in Marathon. The Marathon ceremony will be followed by an open house, where the public is welcome to tour the Sheriff’s substation and meet the people who work there.

The public is encouraged to attend both Memorial ceremonies 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 death, you may visit the Sheriff’s Office web site at www.keysso.net and visit our “History” pages. To hear more about officers killed in the United States, visit the Officer Down Memorial Page at http://www.odmp.org.

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 themselves; and

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 half staff 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 half staff of the flag of the United States. 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 16, 2003 

In an effort to keep citizens up to date about road conditions, the Sheriff's Office is offering two new areas of their web site which should be useful to everyone driving on Highway U.S. One.
 
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 accidents which are expected to impede traffic for a significant length of time, and/or those which involve serious injuries or hazardous materials. The information which is being offered 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.

 

May 14, 2003

SWAT School graduates both Sheriff's Office and Key West Police

Members from the Sheriff’s Office Special Weapons and Tactics Team, Corrections Emergency Response Team and Key West Police Special Response Team recently attended a two week basic SWAT school held at the Florida Keys Institute of Criminal Justice. Students received training in how to respond to and engage in building entries, hostage rescues, barricaded subject situations, establishing inner and outer perimeters, engaging in crisis negotiations, and clearing of buildings.

The students received further training in the use and effects of chemical agents, less-lethal munitions, and distraction devices. In addition the students were able to use various weapons that a swat team utilizes, including: sub-machine guns, machine guns, pistols, shotguns, 37/40 millimeter grenade launchers, and sniper rifles. The students were also required to make four rappels from a rappelling tower.

Class members became familiar with the various types of equipment that SWAT officers and SWAT teams. This equipment consisted of entry vests, gas masks, gloves, hoods, ballistic helmets ballistic shields, and rappelling equipment.

At the end of each day, the class had to participate in physical training, which usually consisted of long runs with abdominal and upper body workouts. For graduation, each member had to pass a written test, and a physical test on a specially designed obstacle course; they also had to show proficiency in tying rappelling knots and demonstrate the proper way to don and remove a gas mask.

May 14, 2003

Sheriff's Office thanks dedicated doctors

 Dr. Michael Funk (left) and Dr. Richard Matthews, 
with Lt. Bill Moran (center). Both doctors
work for
the upper Keys Guidance Clinic. 

The two doctors recently received plaques from the Sheriff's Office acknowledging their hard work and dedication. Captain Jenny Bell-Thomson has worked with the two doctors for years and calls them "unsung heroes". She says, " They are always available when we need them to help someone. Just one example is the recent murder-suicide case we had in the upper Keys. When that case happened, Dr. Matthews called me right away to offer assistance to the kids and to any deputies who had been on the scene. Dr. Funk is still in contact with the people who now have custody of the kids, even though they are living out of the state. I'm happy that we are giving them these plaques to recognize them for their efforts and for everything they do for us."

 

April 17, 2003

Cadets hold boat raffle

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 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 1-877-273-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.

April 15, 2003

Date of Cuban Plane Auction Changed - Again

Monroe County – Due to an unexpected change in the schedule of the judgment creditor's attorney, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has had to once again change the date the Cuban DC-3 and Cuban AN-24 seized in March and April of this year will be auctioned off. Both seized Cuban planes will be auctioned 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 follows:

  • A twin engine Douglas DC3 Aircraft with tail number CU-T-1192 and serial number of 10028
  • A Cubana Airlines Antonov 24 turboprop Aircraft with tail Number CU-T-1294 and serial number of 27308105.

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 kbondurant@keysso.net 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 http://www.keysso.net/photogallery/current/administration/people_events_8.htm

 

April 14th, 2003

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 Kids Campaign www.safekids.org:

  • Bicycles are associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product except the automobile.
  • 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.

With this 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 warning on 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.

April 11, 2003

Citizen’s Crime Watch: Keep your neighborhood safe

Monroe County – 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 Bell-Thomson said. 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 safer.

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.

April 11, 2003

Date of Cuban Plane Auction Changed

Monroe County – The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has changed the date the Cuban DC-3 seized in March of this year will be auctioned off. Instead of auctioning the DC-3 by itself on April 28th, both seized Cuban planes will be auctioned on the same day – May 19th. At two separate auctions held on the same day, the DC-3 and the AN-24 aircraft will be sold at auction. The auctions will take place Monday, May 19th 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 follows:

  •  A twin engine Douglas DC3 Aircraft with tail number CU-T-1192 and serial number of 10028
  •  A Cubana Airlines Antonov 24 turboprop Aircraft with tail Number CU-T-1294 and serial number of 27308105.

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, May 18th, between 1 p.m. and 5 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 kbondurant@keysso.net 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 http://www.keysso.net/photogallery/current/administration/people_events_8.htm

 

April 11, 2003

Tanzi flown to State Prison after death sentencing

Michael Tanzi was sentenced to death today in Circuit Court for the killing of Miami resident Janet Acosta in April of 2000. Just minutes after his sentencing, Tanzi was whisked off to the Key West International Airport with a heavily armed escort comprised of the Sheriff's Office Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team and members of the Sheriff's Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), as well as Sheriff's Transportation deputies. At 10:20 a.m., a Sheriff's Office aircraft, flown by Aviation Lt. Michael Pandol, departed with Tanzi on board, en route to the State prison at Starke, Florida.

For more photos and video clips, click on the link below:

http://www.keysso.net/photogallery/current/administration/people_events_9.htm

April 9, 2003

A television crew will be shooting a commercial on Card Sound Bridge April 10, 2003 from 2 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Two off-duty deputies will be on hand to assist with traffic, but slow downs are expected.

April 1, 2003

Community Meeting, Islamorada

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office, Islamorada Sector, will hold a Community Meeting April 8th at 7 p.m. at the Islamorada Library. The meeting's purpose is to discuss any law enforcement concerns anyone may have in Islamorada, Village of Islands. Refreshments will be served at the meeting.