Community Relations Division.............................................December  2003Edition

Happy Holidays from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office!

Editor's Note: I will be out of the office from December 11th until January 12th, so there won't be a January edition of Community News. I hope you all have a terrific Holiday Season and I'll be sending out the next edition of our newsletter February 2nd.

Sheriff's Report:

This is the last Rap Sheet before the holidays, so I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a terrific holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas,  Chanukah or Kwanzaa, I hope you all take time out to enjoy your families and friends.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released semi-annual statistics this week for major crimes which occurred between January and June of this year. I'm proud to announce that Monroe County, excluding crimes which occurred in the city of Key West, showed a significant decrease of 6.2% over the same time period in 2002. Our clearance rate showed a significant rise from 17.0% to 20.9%. I want to thank you all for your help with everything we do. Our close partnership with the community is one of the things responsible for the consistent, 13 year downturn in crime for our county.

Here are some numbers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to show you all how crime has decreased over the past 14 years: In 1989, our county had 78,966 residents; total index crimes (major crimes tracked by FDLE)  were 10,315 and the number of crimes per 100,000 people was 13,062. In 2002, our county population was 81,140; total index crimes were 5,214 and the number of crimes per 100,000 people was 6,425. Our citizens are most definitely safer today than they were 14 years ago.  If you would like to see more FDLE crime statistics, they are available at

Take care, and stay safe.

   Sheriff, Monroe County

General News

Tow to Go Program helps reduce drunk driving in the Keys

Silver Eagle Distributors and AAA will once again be offering  the Tow to Go program to fight the problem of Drunk Driving over the holiday season. Beginning November 28th, they will be offering a free ride  to adults who choose to drink alcohol, but who don't have a ride with a designated driver.  

Any adult who needs a ride home can simply call 1-800-AAA-HELP and AAA will dispatch a tow truck to take both the driver and the vehicle home, free of charge. Please distribute the attached information as widely and in as many ways as possible. This is a terrific program that is sure to save lives over the holidays.

Sheriff's Office fingerprint database is a useful and productive tool

 In 2001, the Sheriff's Office purchased a new Automated Fingerprint Information Expander (AFIX), a localized fingerprint identification system which uses a database made up of fingerprints from local arrests, and other local sources to check latent prints taken at local crime scenes. The machine was installed in Key West, and Fingerprint Specialist Nancy Rodriquez has been entering fingerprints into the system since that time. In a two year period, she had gotten 22 "hits" on criminal cases helping detectives to identify suspects.

 When a latent fingerprint is taken at a crime scene, it is submitted to the Sheriff's Office Property Division and is automatically taken to Rodriguez for a check through the system. After she checks it and enters it into the system to add to the existing database, she sends it to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for a further check into State of Florida fingerprint records and/or the FBI national database. 

While it is true that the FDLE and FBI checks can take a considerable amount of time - sometimes months - the local check can be done fairly quickly. Once she has the fingerprint in hand, Nancy can do a check in a matter of minutes. This is important because criminals tend to be territorial - that is they tend to commit their crimes relatively close to home. Add that to the fact that many criminals are repeat offenders, and the local check becomes significant. 

Soon, the Sheriff's Office should be able to check fingerprints through the FBI's national database locally as well. "We're in the process of purchasing the equipment we need to do national checks. This will cut down on the time we have to wait for our fingerprints," said Sheriff Roth. "The hits we have had over the past two years with our AFIX system show the purchase of the equipment was well worth it, and I'm very excited about the fact that we will soon be able to do more comprehensive fingerprints checks without a month's long wait," he said.

Sheriff's Office works with Salvation Army to collect "Toys for Tots"

 The Monroe County Sheriff's Office in Marathon is working with the Salvation Army to collect new toys and monetary donations before Christmas. The proceeds will be used to make sure needy children and families enjoy the Christmas season. Businesses in the Marathon area are asked to decorate a large box and place it in a prominent place as a collection station for new toys. People are asked to donate a new, unwrapped toy by placing it in one of these donation boxes. Monetary donations would also be appreciated and will be used to purchase new toys for the program. According to Sheriff's Office Toys for Tots coordinator Deputy Linda Hartley, the program in Marathon will be providing toys for well over a thousand children this year. 

Anyone with questions, or who wants to make a monetary donation, can call Deputy Hartley at 289-8567 or Marathon Captain Bob Peryam at 289-2430.

The City of Marathon and Sector 5

DUI and seatbelt enforcement a holiday season priority

By Captain Robert P. Peryam, Commander, Marathon District

Roughly 43,000 Americans died in traffic crashes last year.  Sixty percent (60%) of passenger vehicle occupants killed in those crashes were unrestrained.  During the same period there were more than 500,000 people involved in traffic crashes in Florida. Of those who didn't use a safety belt, about 50% were killed or injured. 

Your law enforcement officers in Marathon and throughout Monroe County will be working to save lives this holiday season during the November 21, 2003 through January 4, 2004 Combined Safety Belt and DUI Enforcement Mobilization Wave.  This is the first time that specialized DUI and safety belt enforcement waves have been conducted simultaneously, and the combined campaign message will target two of Florida’s most deadly driving choices: impaired driving and not buckling up. 

During this period you will hear constant and consistent messages on the radio, in newspapers, on signboards and at public gatherings, all focused on safe motoring and adherence to these two laws specifically. 

The idea behind this model is that if motorists constantly hear about strict enforcement of safety belt and DUI laws, and then are reinforced by seeing the specialized law enforcement efforts underway, they will be less likely to violate the laws.  Fewer people driving impaired and riding in vehicles unbuckled means fewer injuries and fatalities, which is the goal of the Buckle Up Florida and You Drink & Drive, You Lose, Combined Enforcement Wave.

There will be extra deputies on patrol in Marathon during this time specifically targeting these violations.  This overtime will be funded by drug seizure money and will continue through the month of December and into New Years Day. 

Your Sheriff’s Office knows that conducting specialized DUI enforcement efforts is a deterrent to impaired driving and with the addition of cracking down on unbuckled motorists, we are activating a strategic effort to keep everyone safe over the holidays. 


There is a program offered by AAA that is available throughout the entire state of Florida.  The program runs from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day 2004.  Tow to Go is very simple to use.  Adults who need a ride home from nightclubs or restaurants this holiday season can simply call 1-800-AAA-HELP.  AAA will dispatch a tow truck and will take both the driver and the vehicle home, free of charge.  To take advantage of this service, you do NOT have to be a AAA member; it is available to all adults who need it.  Please take advantage of this program if the situation is such that it is needed.

We of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and in particular of the Marathon District wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season.  And remember during this holiday season that we are trying to keep you safe, so please understand that our enforcement efforts are being conducted with your best interest in mind.

Crime Prevention Tip of the Month:

Holiday Decorating Tips

If you celebrate Christmas, having a Christmas tree is one of the most common traditions during the holiday season. A  tree can be a hazard, however, if not cared for properly.

Buy a tree stand with a good sized water reservoir and keep plenty of water in the stand. In addition, use an additive for the water to keep the tree green and in good condition. A dry tree can be a fire hazard.

Also remember to turn off the Christmas tree lights when not in the room, especially at night when sleeping, or when the house is unoccupied. There have been instances of tree lights getting too hot, or shorting out and catching the tree on fire.

If candles are a part of your home’s decorations, follow the same rules. Put out the candle flames when no one is in the room, and make sure the candle is sitting on a non-flammable surface, such as a large plate or ceramic tile. Incidentally, the use of lighted candles is strongly discouraged because so many fires are started by them during the holiday season.

Holiday presents are a integral part of the season, and unfortunately they are also a temptation to burglars. Don’t keep presents out in the open where they might be visible from a window to someone passing outside. Hide them out of sight until it is time to exchange them, so you don’t find them gone before you have a chance to open them.

Play it safe—and have a happy holiday season.


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Questions or Comments?
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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