May 13, 2008

Sheriff’s Office to participate in  “Click it or Ticket”

The Sheriff’s Office will be participating in the upcoming “Click it or Ticket” wave starting on May 19th and running through June 4th.

During this time, the Sheriff’s Office Traffic Enforcement Division will be paying special attention to the use of seat-belts and child restraint devices, with special patrols in school zones to where they will be checking for children who aren’t properly buckled up.

“There is absolutely no excuse for not wearing your safety belt, and for not buckling up your children,” said Sheriff Rick Roth. “It is a proven fact: seat belt and child restraint devices save lives. We see it over and over again – in accidents, the people who wear their safety belts are the ones who are most likely to make it out alive…and it is such an easy thing to do,” he said.

“This is fair warning. Wear your safety belt; buckle up your kids, or it will cost you, and the cost may not just be monetary. It could cost your life or the life of your child” he said.

May 7, 2008

Sheriff names Employees of the Quarter

Sheriff Rick Roth is pleased to announce his Employees of the First Quarter, 2008. These are employees chosen for their exemplary work in different areas of employment with the Sheriff’s Office, including road patrol, corrections, support, reserve deputies and explorer/cadets. In the photo, left to right: Explorer of the Quarter Fallon Martin; Deputy Evan Calhoun, Victim Advocate (Support Employee) Elaine Woodson; Reserve Deputy Richard Luna; Detention Sgt. Lisa Lawson.

Click here for the reasons these employees were chosen for this award.

Deputies complete difficult Drug Recognition Expert course

Two Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputies just completed a difficult and demanding advanced training course to become the county’s newest Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). In order to qualify for the school, Deputies Keith Albert and Ryan Cowart first had be complete an advanced DUI Enforcement course and a course in Advanced Introduction to Drugs that Impair. After that, each officer must get a recommendation from a State Attorney’s Office and another from two certified DREs. They must also show experience in DUI and Drug Enforcement. A committee then reviews the application and the State DRE Coordinator makes the decision as to who can attend the class.

The actual training is a two day orientation followed by an intensive seven days of classroom instruction. There is testing during the orientation and, if the candidate fails any portion of it, he/she is dismissed immediately. During classroom instruction, students are tested frequently, and learn introduction to the drug categories, how to obtain vital signs and how to examine the eyes in lighting conditions. “Wet labs” are introduced several times during the 7 day period where actual test subjects are dosed with alcohol and attain varied levels of impairment and field exercises are performed.

Once the classroom portion is completed the student enters the clinical stage in which they evaluate real people with real drug or alcohol problems, under supervision of an instructor. People suspected of using drugs or who have drug abuse problems volunteer to take part in the training. The student conducts an evaluation and gives an opinion of what drug category, if any, the test subject was under the influence of. A urine sample is then obtained and sent for testing. To successfully pass the clinical portion of this training, the candidate has to call the category correctly in at least 75% of the cases. A minimum of 12 evaluations must be completed.

The final phase of the process of certification involves the final knowledge exam which encompasses all aspects of the curriculum and usually takes 8-16 hours to complete. If the candidate passes all phases then the candidate becomes a certified DRE.

The whole process usually takes about five to six months to complete. Obtaining a DRE certification is commonly referred to as obtaining a masters degree in DUI enforcement, because of all the time, dedication and effort involved in obtaining it. Once certified there is continuing education requirements and recertification every two years that the DRE is responsible in completing.

DREs are frequently called to crime scenes to help deputies and police officers determine what substances people are under the influence of. They are also frequently called upon to give testimony in court cases. Prior to Deputies Albert and Cowart completing the course, the only DRE in Monroe County was Traffic Enforcement Deputy Luis Blasco.

New Sergeant in the lower Keys

In the photo: Sheriff Rick Roth congratulates newly promoted Sergeant Tom Walker. Walker was recently promoted to Sergeant from his previous position as road patrol deputy. He will be supervising a road patrol squad in the lower Keys. Also pictured, on the left, is Lower Keys Sector One Captain Chad Scibilia and on the right, Colonel Rick Ramsay.

May 6, 2008

Law Enforcement Agencies gear up for Hospitality Expo

Islamorada – The Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies are gearing up and making plans for the upcoming Hospitality Expo which starts Sunday evening and ends on Tuesday at the Holiday Isle Resort in Islamorada.

In the past, the event has been well known for excessive drinking, and potentially dangerous behavior both at the resort and off shore  at an area called The Sandbar. The Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will all work together this year to ensure the event is well patrolled and that laws are enforced.

Captain Don Fanelli says uniformed and undercover officers will be out in force both on land and on the water. He will be utilizing resources from the lower, middle and upper Keys including multiple Sheriff’s Office vessels, the Sheriff’s Mobile Command Post, traffic enforcement officers, narcotics investigators and more.

“We’ll be targeting excessive drinking, underage drinking, drinking and driving, reckless operation of boats, operating boats while intoxicated and many other crimes which in our experience have been a problem at this event in the past,” said Captain Fanelli. “While we want people to have fun, we also want this event to be safe and to be free of some of the dangerous violations we’ve seen in past years,” he said.

Captain Fanelli said he has been approached by several resorts in the area that object to boats “shuttling” large numbers of people from their property to the Sandbar. He said this year, these boat operators will be given trespass warnings and will not be allowed to do this. There are so many people usually present on the Sandbar that water based law enforcement officers will be paying close attention to reckless boaters. Driving a boat at high speed, or in a reckless manner is extremely dangerous when there are large numbers of people in the water. Fanelli would also like to remind everyone that Monroe County does have an ordinance making it illegal to have an open container of alcohol on a public street, in a car or on the water.

“Our command post will be equipped with a breathalyzer device and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will have their BAT mobile here as well,” Fanelli said. BAT stands for Breath Alcohol Testing trailer. Both will be utilized to determine if car or boat operators are drunk. Officers will also be watching out for people who are so impaired they cannot take care of themselves. People who are in such a state can be taken into temporary protective custody under the State’s Marchman’s Act  if they are judged to not be able to take care of themselves because of alcohol or drug impairment. There are always comparatively high numbers of people picked up under this statute during this event.

“Consider this fair warning. We want you to have fun, but we do not want this event to have an adverse affect on our community,” Fanelli said. “We will have zero tolerance for people who do not respect the rights of others, who endanger others with their behavior and who break the law,” he said.

Sheriff's Animal Farm open this Sunday

The Sheriff's Office Animal Farm will be open to the public Sunday, May 11th, 2008, 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, a 100 pound tortoise, an Emu, an Albino Hedgehog, Patagonian Cavys 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. Groups may make special arrangements to visit the farm. Call the Sheriff's Office Detention Center at 305-293-7300 to schedule a visit.