March 26, 2007

Easter on the Animal Farm

Mark your calendars and don't forget to attend the annual Easter on the Animal Farm event this Sunday, April 1st.

A favorite with kids of all ages, Easter at the Farm will take place between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and is free of charge. Children will be treated to wonderful Easter treats and an Easter Egg Hunt. Get there early, before all the eggs disappear! Everyone is welcome to this fun family event, and in addition to the Easter festivities, kids and adults alike can, of course, visit all the wonderful animals at the Farm, including including tropical birds, snakes, ferrets, rabbits, horses, ponies, a llama, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, an 100 pound tortoise and more. 

The Children's Animal Farm is located at the Stock Island Detention Center, just off of College Road. It is open to the public on the second and fourth Sunday of every month, except in April when it will be open the first and fourth Sundays. Groups may make special arrangements to visit the farm as well. Call the Sheriff's Office Detention Center at 305-293-7300 to schedule a visit.

March 26, 2007

National Public Safety Telecommunicator's Week

April 8 - 14 is National Public Safety Telecommunicator's Week, a week when the public safety community, and those in the community who depend on public safety workers to keep them safe, take time out to give thanks to dispatchers who work behind the scenes to make sure the folks out in the field are safe.

Public Safety Dispatchers have one of the toughest, most stressful jobs. They deal with people in crisis on an almost constant basis, and must do it calmly and professionally. They are responsible for making sure law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics in the field have as much information as possible about the incidents they are responding to, for their own safety as well as for the safety of those needing assistance.

It is a weighty responsibility and, too often, they perform the job day in and day out without much recognition.  National Public Safety Telecommunicator's Week gives us all a chance to remedy that. If you know a public safety dispatcher, or work for a public safety agency, pick up the phone, write a letter - do something to let them know how much you appreciate the job they do.

The Sheriff's Office Communications Center in Marathon operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is on a 12 hour shift schedule. There are 22 employees that work there, including one director, four supervisors and 17 Communications Officers. Communications Officers start at $36,000 a year, and there are currently positions open. To see further job requirements, or to apply to work for Sheriff's Office visit our web site at www.keysso.net.

The week is also a good time to educate people on the proper procedures to use when calling 911.

What to Expect when you call 911

911 is an emergency response service provided by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to assist the citizens of our county with receiving law enforcement, fire, and ambulance assistance during crisis times. Sheriff’s Office Communications Officers man special emergency phone lines 24 hours a day so that the citizens of Monroe County may receive help as expeditiously as possible. The Sheriff's Office answers these emergency phone lines county wide, excluding the city of Key West, and dispatches firefighters and paramedics in addition to law enforcement.

At the same time as they answer 911 calls, Sheriff' s Office Communications Officers also answer non- emergency calls on regular phone lines. Obviously, someone in a crisis situation will get assistance prior to someone calling with a non-emergency situation.

When Should You call 911?

 911 Emergency calls should be made only in cases such as a crime in progress, a fire, a medical emergency, or a similar immediately threatening case. A possible 911 situation can involve something you see - a burglar breaking in to a neighbors house, a fire, an automobile accident. It can also involve what you hear - a woman screaming or yelling "Don’t hit me again," gunfire, an explosion or glass breaking. Also, a suspected drunk driver is always a 911 call. They’re potential killers not only of themselves, but of innocent bystanders as well.

Before you call, gather as many facts as you can under the circumstances and write them down so you won’t forget them. Take a second look - a minute gathering more complete information may be worth the delay. If you are describing a person, important points include the race of the person, whether it is a male or a female, what the person is wearing, the color of his or her hair and any other outstanding characteristics. With a car description, a tag number is great if you can get it, and a report that the vehicle had a ladder on top or a dented left front fender is more useful than simply describing the vehicle as a "white van".
The job of the communications officer is to gather as much pertinent information relative to the situation as possible and to keep you on the phone if at all possible. This action better prepares deputies coming to your aid.

What to expect when you call 911

When you call 911 emergency lines, one of the first things you will be asked is "Is this an emergency? This question is a necessary one because unfortunately, some people do call 911 for non-emergencies. Communications Officers must often deal with 911 calls for directions, weather conditions or traffic information. This misuse of 911 is unacceptable, and has the potential of delaying true emergency calls.

Once it is established that you do have an emergency situation, the Communications Officer will ask you a series of questions in an effort to get enough information so he/she can send the proper assistance to you as soon as possible. Try to answer the questions as calmly and clearly as possible. Help will be sent to you right away, and the more cooperative you are over the phone, the faster that help will arrive. When you call 911, a computerized system will automatically tell the Communications Officer your address and phone number. If you have any special medical conditions you can register that information with the Sheriff’s Office and that information can be included in the system, and will be available to Communications officers when you call.The officer will continue to talk with you after help has been dispatched to you. The longer he/she can keep you on the phone and the more information that can be relayed to the responding deputy, ambulance or fire truck, the better and safer the situation is.

Communications officers in Monroe County are trained in Emergency Medical Dispatching. This means if you have a medical emergency, the Communications Officer will be able to assist you with initial treatment steps, such as performing CPR, the Heimlich Maneuver for choking victims, or other common medical emergencies.

Misuse of the 911 Emergency system

Unfortunately a substantial number of 911 calls received by MCSO Communications Officers are not of an emergency nature. If you are reporting a non-emergency situation such as a suspicious person, a previously stolen bike or a dog continually barking, 911 is not the proper number to call. The Sheriff’s Office offers non-emergency phone numbers for the reporting of such calls. Your call will still be handled appropriately, but this will allow true emergencies to be handled first.

Let me re-emphasize: 911 is for emergency calls only and is not equipped to answer questions, give directions, weather forecasts or road conditions. How would you like it if you had a real emergency and someone else was tying up the Communications Officer asking where the closest post office is? To report a non-emergency call, the following phone numbers may be called 24 hours a day:

For further information on the use of 911, call Crime Watch Coordinator Deputy Emil LaVache at 292-7116 or 1-800-273-COPS .

March 16, 2007

7 year old Mark Hemeyer of Tavernier sees
the Pilot's perspective in Trauma Star.

Trauma Star on the landing pad at Mariner's Hospital.

Trauma Star makes appearance at Health Fair

Tavernier - The Sheriff's Trauma Star helicopter made a special appearance at the Mariners Hospital Health Fair recently. Visitors to the health fair were treated to a tour of the helicopter, and Flight Medics from Monroe County Fire Rescue talked about the Sheriff's Aviation Program.

March 13, 2007

Sheriff honors Employees of the Year

In the attached photo, left to right: Lael Freeman, Andrew Marazzo-Ensminger,
Andrea Rainer, Raye Liu, David Bickford and Sheriff Rick Roth. Not pictured: Andrew Paskiewicz.

On Friday, March 9th, the Sheriff's Office held a ceremony to honor it's Employees of the Year for 2006 at the Marathon Government Center Commission Chambers.

The Employees of the Year are chosen from all of those who received one of the Sheriff’s Employee of the Quarter awards throughout the past year.

"The people chosen to be Employees of the Year are truly the best of the best – they have proven themselves to be outstanding employees, as well as outstanding contributors to the community they serve," said Sheriff Rick Roth.

The yearly award winners received a special plaque from the Sheriff in recognition of their exemplary work, and a badge to wear on their uniforms with the designation "Officer (or Employee) of the Year". In addition, they each receive a check for $500.00 donated by TIB Bank, and $1,000.00 from the Sheriff’s Office. The Cadet of the year receives $100.00 from TIB Bank, with a matching amount from the Sheriff’s Office.

The Cormier Memorial Award, given to the Sheriff’s Office Sworn Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, is named for Deputy David Cormier, a Sheriff’s reserve officer killed in the line of duty in a traffic accident in November of 1989. Members of the Cormier family attend the ceremony each year in memory of their loved one who gave his life in service to the community.

SWORN Law Enforcement Officer: Sergeant Deputy Andrew Marazzo-Ensminger arrested more than 100 people for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2006. His dedication to his job, and his work to keep these dangerous drivers off the roadways of our county have most likely saved lives and have definitely made Highway U.S. One a safer place for the driving public. According to Deputy Ensminger, he has had a number of close calls with drunk drivers himself, which is why he feels so strongly about keeping drunk drivers off the road.

CORRECTIONS Officer of the Year: Sergeant Detention Deputy Andrew Paskiewicz began his career with the MCSO in January 1996. During the early morning of January 4, 2007 Sgt. Paskiewicz received a telephone call from one of his assigned officers calling out sick from work. As the conversation continued, he noticed that the officer sounded drowsy. When asked, “are you OK”, the phone went silent. Remembering the officer was diabetic, a concerned Sgt. Paskiewicz called for a Sheriff’s Deputy to do a wellness check and for Emergency Services to respond as well. They arrived moments later at the officer’s home. Once inside the home, EMS determined the officer was in diabetic shock and her condition was bad enough for an immediate admission to the hospital. The officer’s family called later to say Sgt. Paskiewicz most likely saved the officer's life with his quick actions.

SUPPORT Employee of the Year: Detention Records Supervisor Lael Freeman could be characterized as the ideal employee. She never complains about the work load, even though the Sheriff's Office Records Division is chronically short on employees. No matter how much work is assigned to her and her shift, it gets done accurately and completely. Recently, she has been the only jail records supervisor because another supervisor quit and one is out on Family Medical Leave. She also fills in for the Records Manager when she is out. Through all of that, she doesn't complain about being short handed or about working long hours. She never asks for time off and is always there for her co-workers. The Sheriff's Office commends her for her hard work and dedication.

COMMUNICATIONS Officer of the Year: This past Christmas season, Communications Officer Raye Liu was planning to spend her first Christmas off work with her family in over four years. She was poised to begin her time off with her loved ones when the Communications Division was suddenly faced with short staff and scheduling problems. Everyone assigned to the night shift was new and the shift needed an experienced hand and a knowledgeable leader to help them get through the Christmas holidays. When Liu was asked to help fill those shoes, she never hesitated. She took the temporary assignment without complaint, giving up her holiday time to help out the agency. Her dedication to the Sheriff's Office is and always has been remarkable.

RESERVE Deputy of the Year: Reserve Lieutenant David Bickford has volunteered over 2,376 hours of his time working in the Upper Keys Sector Seven and the Aviation Division since he started in November of 2000. Recently he accepted the position of Reserve Lieutenant and is taking on the huge task of re-organizing the Reserve Aviation Squad. David is also the county wide coordinator for the Child Seat installation program, is an instructor for the program and a trained installer of car seats as well. He spends so much of his time giving to the Sheriff's Office he deserves to be recognized for his selfless dedication.

EXPLORER/Cadet of the Year: Cadet Andrea Rainer has been with Post 904 in the Lower Keys for four years and has worked her way up to the rank of Captain of Post 904 through diligence and dedication to the program. During the past four years Andrea has maintained an impeccable attendance record at both weekly meeting and Post details and is the type of person who does not hesitate to take charge and make sure things get done. Her ability to lead has not only been recognized here on the local level, but also while at various statewide functions. During this years’ Explorer Boot Camp, Andrea was assigned as one of the few Platoon Leaders, chosen from approximately 200 Explorers to fill the position. She was also called upon at the recent Explorer Delegate Conference to assume a leadership role while in Palm Beach. She shows great promise for future employment, either in law enforcement or in any field she chooses to work in.

March 13, 2007

Easter on the Animal Farm

Mark your calendars and don't forget to attend the annual Easter on the Animal  event.

A favorite with kids of all ages, Easter at the Farm will take place this year on April 1st, between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and is free of charge. Children will be treated to wonderful Easter treats and an Easter Egg Hunt. Get there early, before all the eggs disappear! Everyone is welcome to this fun family event, and in addition to the Easter festivities, kids and adults alike can, of course, visit all the wonderful animals at the Farm, including including tropical birds, snakes, ferrets, rabbits, horses, ponies, a llama, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, an 100 pound tortoise and more. 

The Children's Animal Farm is located at the Stock Island Detention Center, just off of College Road. It is open to the public on the second and fourth Sunday of every month, except in April when it will be open the first and fourth Sundays. Groups may make special arrangements to visit the farm as well. Call the Sheriff's Office Detention Center at 305-293-7300 to schedule a visit.

March 8, 2007

Art Behind Bars EVENT

On Friday, March 16th, 6-9 p.m., there will be a fundraising party in the beautiful garden of the White Street Deli~Café, 1019 White St., Key West. Become a member of Art Behind Bars and enjoy a fabulous buffet, open bar, entertainment, silent auction, raffle, door prizes, and more. The raffle is for a 3-days+2-nights’ stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in Miramar and a Discovery 1-day cruise to the Bahamas departing from Ft. Lauderdale. Tickets for the raffle are $10 each; you need not be present to win. Admission to the party is $50 per person.

Art Behind Bars is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to give inmates an opportunity to contribute to society through the donation of artwork to numerous non-profits in the community. It is sponsored in part by Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Monroe Country Sheriff’s Office, Fl. Dept. of State, Div. of Cultural Affairs, National Endowment of the Arts, Florida Keys Council of the Arts, and private donations. For further information, to book reservations for the party, or buy raffle tickets, please visit www.artbehindbars.org or phone 305-304-4772.

March 6, 2007

Sheriff's Office participates in PTA Carnival

Left to right, Victim Advocate Sally Ann Crawford, Detective Linda Mixon
and Victim Advocate Debbie Sheppard speak to someone about crime prevention
at the Sheriff's Office booth.

McGruff the Crime Dog and Daren the DARE Lion made a special
appearance at the Key Largo School PTA Carnival.

The Sheriff's Office recently participated in Key Largo School's annual Parent Teacher Association Carnival. The Sheriff's Office booth featured child identification fingerprinting and offered free crime prevention information. Over 20 children were fingerprinted, and McGruff the Crime Dog and the DARE Lion both  made an appearance as well. Detective's Jason Madnick and Linda Mixon along with Victim Advocate's Debbie Sheppard and Sally Ann Crawford were there, helped out by volunteer Debbie Madnick.

March 6, 2007

Sheriff's Animal Farm open this Sunday

The Sheriff's Office Animal Farm will be open to the public this Sunday, March 11, 2007, between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Everyone is welcome to visit, free of charge, and see the wide variety of animals at the park, including tropical birds, snakes, ferrets, rabbits, horses, ponies, a llama, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, an 100 pound tortoise and more.

Farmer Jeanne Selander is also in the planning stages for a wonderful Easter at the Animal Farm party. She wants everyone to mark their calendars for April 1st - the first Sunday in April. Children attending the event will be treated to wonderful Easter treats and will be able to interact with the many wonderful creatures at the farm as well. Stay tuned for more information about Easter at the Animal Farm, and a flyer will be sent home with lower Keys Elementary School children with details of the event later this month.

The Children's Animal Farm is located at the Stock Island Detention Center, just off of College Road. It is open to the public on the second and fourth Sunday of every month, except in April when it will be open the first and fourth Sundays. Groups may make special arrangements to visit the farm as well. Call the Sheriff's Office Detention Center at 305-293-7300 to schedule a visit.

March 2, 2007

Sheriff's Office names Crime Watch Chairperson of the Year

Left to right, Captain Chad Scibilia, Sector One (lower Keys) Commander, Chairperson Glen Passage and Crime Watch Coordinator Deputy Emil LaVache.

At a recent meeting of the Royal Palm RV Park Citizen's Crime Watch group, Chairperson Glen Passage was awarded the Crimewatch Chairperson of the Year award. Passage has been the chairperson of the group for 14 years and during that time has chaired every meeting personally, never missing one. He also works tirelessly to make sure he is up to date with all crime prevention information, keeping in regular touch with Sheriff's Office Crime Watch Coordinator Deputy Emil LaVache. During his time as chair of the group, the Royal Palm RV Park, which is located on Big Pine Key, has maintained an extremely low crime rate, a fact that can be attributed to their vigilance as a group, and to Passage's work specifically.