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January 28, 2010

Sheriff’s Traffic Unit targets “Move Over Law” violations

Note: For more information on this topic, and for access to a variety of printed materials, audio public service announcements and video, go to http://www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/misc/SafeEdCamps.htm.

Starting in February, and running for several months, the Sheriff’s Office Traffic Enforcement Unit will begin some special patrols targeting the “Move Over Law”, which requires drivers to move over or slow down when approaching an emergency vehicle with its emergency equipment activated.

This law, and similar laws passed in most states in the U.S., aim specifically to keep first responders safe as they perform their duties. More than 150 U.S. law enforcement officers have been killed since 1999 after being struck by vehicles along America's highways, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Below is synopsis of the basics of the “Move Over Law”.

The Traffic Unit will be conducing Saturated Patrols, also known as “wolf packs”, throughout the County over the next few months. Any other traffic violation observed during the operation will, of course, be stopped and either educated or cited.

Here are a few frequently asked questions and answers about the “Move Over Law”:

What should I do if I see an emergency vehicle parked on the side of the road with lights flashing?

When approaching an emergency vehicle with lights flashing parked on the side of a multi-lane road, you MUST move over by changing lanes away from the emergency vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so. Motorists must vacate the lane closest to an emergency vehicle to prevent crashing into the emergency vehicle or any emergency workers performing their jobs in the area.

When approaching an emergency vehicle with lights flashing parked on the side of a two-lane road, you MUST slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit and approach with caution unless otherwise directed by an emergency worker on the scene.

What if I am not able to move over safely or change lanes away from the emergency vehicle?

If you are unable to move over or change lanes safely, you MUST slow down to at least 20 mph below the posted speed limit.

If I cannot change lanes safely should I stop my vehicle in the roadway?

No, you must slow down while maintaining a safe speed. You must not stop in the roadway or block the flow of traffic.

What can I do to prevent an accident when approaching an emergency vehicle, traffic congestion, a crash scene, or a construction area?

Stay alert! The single most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others is to pay attention behind the wheel. If you keep your eyes ahead of you on the road, pay attention to the activity around you (other vehicles, signs, etc.) you will be able to anticipate problems and react more quickly to any potentially dangerous events.

What can happen if I break Florida's Move Over Law?

If you are caught, you will be issued a ticket and have to pay a fine.

More seriously, you could crash into an emergency vehicle or strike an emergency worker, causing serious injury or death. You could injure or kill another person or yourself.

For more information, and for access to a variety of printed materials, audio public service announcements and video, go to http://www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/misc/SafeEdCamps.htm.

January 26, 2010

Lt. Thompson cleaning up

The Sheriff’s Office and the Big Pine Motel partnered this past weekend to clean up a brushy area on Cunningham Lane which was making the area unsafe for pedestrian and vehicle traffic. In the photo, Lt. Gene Thompson wields a chain saw while Deputy Linda Kohout looks on. Motel maintenance man Art Brown assisted.

January 22, 2010

Bicycle safety rodeo teaches kids about riding safely

bike rodeo 1bike rodeo 2

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office participated in a bicycle safety day held at the Academy School at Ocean Reef recently. The event included a bicycle safety rodeo for kids and a bike-a-thon which raised $9,110.00 the Keys Children’s Foundation. Monica Woll, the Greenways Trail Coordinator for the Department of Environmental Protection also attended, bringing new bike helmets for all the kids who participated. In the photos, top: Deputy Ray Jodlowski talks to kids at Ocean Reef Academy School about bicycle safety. Bottom:
Kids ride in the bicycle safety rodeo.

January 19, 2010

Sheriff's Animal Farm open Sunday January 24th 

Everyone is invited to visit the Sheriff’s Animal Farm Sunday, January 24th between 1 and 3 p.m. The farm is a terrific family activity that is FREE OF CHARGE. Donations are, of course, greatly appreciated because they help keep the animal’s habitats in good repair and help pay for food and upkeep at the farm. 

The farm has about 250 animals of all kinds and is truly a wonderful place for children and adults alike. The farm is open second and fourth Sundays of every month. Groups may schedule special trips by contacting Farmer Jeanne Selander at 305-293-7300. The farm is located underneath the Monroe County Detention Center, off of College Road on Stock Island.

January 4, 2010

Soldier Ride comes to the Keys

The annual Soldier / Wounded Warrior ride will be coming to the Florida Keys January 15th and 16th. Riders will travel distances in Islamorada, Marathon, the Boca Chica four lane in the lower Keys and in the City of Key West and will be escorted by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Key West Police Department.

“This ride is a wonderful gift from the community to these wounded warriors,” said Sheriff Bob Peryam. “We are proud to be a part of it and we hope everyone in the community turns out to cheer these brave men and women who were wounded while defending our freedom,” he said.

Click here for a schedule of the event, issued by the Wounded Warrior Project.

Sheriff's Office is professionally re-accredited

MCSO reaccredited
The MCSO Accreditation team accepts re-accreditation certificate

 The Monroe County Sheriff's Office recently received state re-accreditation in both law enforcement and corrections. The Sheriff's Office has been a professionally accredited law enforcement agency since the late 1980s, when Sheriff William "Billy" Freeman first applied for and achieved national accreditation status. Of the 3,060 Sheriff's Offices in the nation, only 147 are accredited, putting the MCSO in the top 2% of professional law enforcement agencies in the United States.

"We are currently nationally accredited and we are proud to say state accreditation assessors confirmed our status as a professionally accredited agency as well," said Sheriff Bob Peryam. "The process of re-accreditation is a long and difficult one and I want to thank my accreditation team and the rest of the employees of the Sheriff's Office for all their hard work in achieving this honor." The agency will face the difficult task of national re-accreditation coming up in 2010; agencies must go through the re-accreditation process every three years.

The Office of Accreditation makes sure all divisions within the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, and all members of those divisions, are aware of Office policies and procedures and are in compliance with them at all times. They draft policy, at the direction of the Sheriff and in compliance with Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditations (CFA), the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission (FCAC) and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). These policies and procedures are the foundation of a modern, professional law enforcement agency, and are also the foundation to being state and federally accredited.

Inspectors from the office are charged with seeing that all policies and procedures are up to date at all times, and being complied with by all members of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. To that end, they visit all offices on a regular basis, inspecting records and making sure all procedures are being followed appropriately.

What is Accreditation?

Law Enforcement Agencies in the state of Florida can attain law enforcement and corrections accredited status through the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditations (CFA) and Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission (FCAC). Agencies nationwide can become accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).

An accreditation program has long been recognized as a means of maintaining the highest standards of professionalism. Accreditation is the certification by an independent reviewing authority that an entity has met specific requirements and prescribed standards. Schools, universities, and hospitals are some of the most well known organizations that are required to maintain accreditation.

Law Enforcement accreditation is only achieved after an assessment team of law enforcement/corrections professionals from other agencies around the state and nation conduct an on-site assessment. An on-site assessment entails a detailed and extensive review of an agencies policies and procedures checking for compliance with established standards, physical facilities and documentation that an agency is doing what it says it is. For Corrections they also look at safety and emergency procedures, food services, rules and discipline and other subject areas that comprise good correctional practices.

"I am proud to say our employees are true professionals and they have proven that over and over again, during difficult and extensive examinations by outside entities during the accreditation process. The citizens of the county can also be proud that their local law enforcement agency is one of the top agencies in the country for its level of professionalism," said Sheriff Peryam.