Community Relations Division................................................................................................ July 2004 Edition

As friends and family of the Wise family looked on, Sheriff Rick Roth presented David and Tammy Wise with a  check for over $6,000.00 today at a special ceremony held on Stock Island. Their son, Robert, lost his life fighting for his country in Iraq. The money was raised in a fundraising effort spearheaded by Sheriff's Office Major Tommy Taylor.  Employees of the Sheriff's Office donated vacation time to the effort. The vacation time was converted to cash and is being given to help the Wise family in their struggle to cope with their loss.

Sheriff's Report:

Homelessness an important issue this Summer

The Sheriff's Office has had an eventful summer so far, with the opening of the Homeless Safe Zone located near our headquarters building on Stock Island. The opening of the safe zone allowed us to take care of the growing homeless camping problem on Higgs Beach and the surrounding park areas in time for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The safe zone is pretty consistently full to capacity now that it is open. The City of Key West has really been the force behind the zone and Assistant City Manager John Jones is working hard to find ways to manage the issue of homelessness in the lower Keys. He is now working on utilizing the existing space more efficiently and on finding more space so the safe zone can continue to accept homeless people who need a place to sleep. The Monroe County Sheriff's Office is working with the city in this effort. So far, we have provided the space for the zone and provided surplus army tents that are being used to house the homeless. We believe the problems posed by homelessness are problems we must all work together to solve.

The city of Key West and the Sheriff's Office have also created a special fund used to purchase bus tickets for those homeless people who wish to return to whatever community they came from, where they may be able to receive help with their situation from friends and families. Many times homeless people want to return to their families, but lack the means to do so on their own. We also offer tickets to inmates being released from our jail facilities who may want to go home to friends and families outside Monroe County.

We are keeping a close eye on other areas of the Keys, including Big Pine Key, Marathon and Key Largo, to make sure the opening of the safe zone does not create problems elsewhere. So far, we haven't observed a marked increase in homeless people in other areas, but we will continue to monitor the situation. Certainly homelessness is an issue we must all be concerned with. All of our various communities in the Keys should be discussing homelessness and what can be done to address the problem everywhere in our County.

Juvenile Detention Facility open for business

We are happy to announce the opening of the Department of Juvenile Justice holding facility on Stock Island. Our young people who are arrested and are ordered to be detained by DJJ can now be housed in a local facility instead of being shipped to a Miami youth detention center. This is really a landmark for the Keys because we can now work harder to offer these juveniles programs and services to help them get a handle on their lives before they become adult offenders. Sending them to Miami facilities oftentimes taught them how to be better criminals instead of teaching them how to stay out of jail and lead productive lives.

The facility was funded using Monroe County Sheriff's Office drug forfeiture money with matching funds from the State of Florida. I felt it was extremely important to fund a juvenile detention facility in the Keys and I am very happy to see it built, and open for business.

National Night Out

Our upper Keys Sectors in Islamorada and in Key Largo will be sponsoring National Night Out events the evening of August 3rd, between 7 and 9 p.m. Islamorada's event will be in Founder's Park and the Key Largo event will be held at Key Largo Community Park. Both will feature many fun things to do and useful information about how you can prevent crime both in your neighborhoods, and at your homes. Please come and meet the deputies who patrol your streets and learn about the crime prevention partnership between Keys law enforcement and the community we serve.

Take care, and stay safe.  

General News:

Sheriff Seeks Reserves

The Monroe County Sheriffs Office is seeking to bolster its popular Reserve Program, particularly in the form of uncertified volunteers for citizen patrol in the Lower Keys.  

In responding to the need to raise law enforcement alertness at all levels of government for the purpose of homeland security as well as to meet its traditional crime fighting role, the Sheriffs Office has increased its capability to place extra eyes and ears in the community by adding both vehicles and communications equipment to its Reserve Force. Additional personnel are now being sought to put this equipment on the streets.

The MCSO Reserve Force operates at three levels; certified Reserve Deputies and Auxiliary Deputies, and uncertified Auxiliary Support. The current recruitment thrust is for Auxiliary Support personnel; individuals who, following a criminal background check and brief training program, can extend the uniformed eyes and ears of certified law enforcement officers.

Citizens interested in volunteering this valuable service to their community are encouraged to contact MCSO Reserve Lieutenant Carol McGinley at (305) 292-7103, to schedule an initial interview.

Sheriff's Office looking for Employees

  • Finance Assistant
  • Communications Officer - Marathon
  • FL. Certified Deputy Sheriff's
  • Records Assistant - Key West & Marathon
  • Computer Systems Specialist - Marathon
  • Detention Deputy Trainee
  • Property & Evidence Assistant
  • School Crossing Guards - Key West & Marathon

Applicants can contact Kristie at the Monroe County Sheriffs office at 292-7044 or send resume to or fax to (305) 292-7159. EEO/AAP

Sheriff releases list of unclaimed bond money

The Sheriff's Office web site,, is currently featuring a list of unclaimed bond money and the people it belongs to, published pursuant to F.S. 116.21 (2). The money is now in the custody of Richard D. Roth, Sheriff of Monroe County, Florida, and unless such bond money is claimed on or before September 1, 2004, the money shall be forfeited to Monroe County.

Persons having or claiming any interest in the listed money or any portion of them shall file their written claims to the Sheriff of Monroe County, on or before September 2, 2004, and show sufficient proof to the Sheriff of Monroe County of his/her ownership and upon doing so, shall be entitled to receive any part of the money so claimed.

To see the list, please visit, or go to and click on "Finance Division".

National Night Out events scheduled for August

The Sheriff's Office and upper Keys Crime Watch groups are working together to organize two National Night Out events on August 3rd. National Night Out is an annual event to celebrate the partnership between law enforcement and the community with an emphasis on teaching people how to prevent crime in their neighborhoods. It is also a terrific excuse to get everyone together. People who communicate and who know their neighbors are better equipped to fight crime.

In Islamorada, the event will take place at Founder's Park from 7 to 9 p.m.. The event will feature displays of the Sheriff's Office vehicles, appearances by law enforcement K-9 teams, a visit by McGruff the Crime Dog, Fire Trucks, ambulances, and activities for kids including ice cream sodas and pop corn.

There will also be a National Night Out event at Key Largo Community Park from 7 to 9 p.m.  There will be many displays of law enforcement and first responder equipment at the event, along with fun activities for kids and lots of crime prevention information for both adults and children. The event will also feature food and refreshments and an opportunity meet new people and renew old friendships.

National Night out will be A fun night to meet neighbors and relatives and celebrate the fight against crime. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend.

Sheriff's Office Reserves volunteer over 25,000 hours

Last year, the Sheriff's Office Reserve force contributed over 25,000 hours to the citizens of Monroe County. The Reserve force consists of 75 people who choose to volunteer their personal time working for various divisions of the Sheriff's Office performing all types of law enforcement related duties free of charge. Assigning an average salary of $10 an hour to these hours, the force has contributed $250,000 worth of service free of charge. The cost of operating the Reserve force is minimal. The uniforms and issued gear are surplus from the full time force, and no new gear is purchased for them.

Reserve officers are an everyday part of the Sheriff's Office, performing many of the same tasks that paid employees perform. They are an important and integrated part of Sheriff's Office operations and their volunteer hours allow the office to accomplish much more in the way of law enforcement than would otherwise be possible.

"The Reserves are an essential part of our operation here at the Sheriff's Office," said Sheriff Rick Roth. "We all appreciate their selfless dedication. The hours they contribute are admirable. Everyone in Monroe County should be thankful for their contributions to the safety and security of our county."

The Reserve Division falls under the Office of Special Operations. The Reserve Lieutenant attends the Sheriff's weekly staff meetings and the Reserve Captain attends the bi-weekly Operations staff meetings. Each Reserve Sector Lieutenant meets on a monthly basis with the Sector Station Commander to make sure the Reserves are fulfilling the Sector's needs.

The Reserves contribute to various divisions, including:

Thirty Reserve deputies assigned to the operation of the Aviation Division, volunteering 6,941 hours in 2003.

Seven Reserve deputies are fully certified law enforcement officers who have contributed 2,000 hours taking calls for service in the community in 2003.

Two Reserve deputies are assigned to the Sheriff's Office dive team and are essential to the operation of the team. They both have extensive diving and instructor experience: both responded to the fatal airplane accident in the everglades recently, and assisted with the search off of Key West for the missing military diver.

Four Reserve deputies are certified parking enforcement specialists tasked with patrolling for vehicles parked illegally throughout the county. They drive Sheriff's Office vehicles equipped with yellow overhead lights and specifically target handicapped parking violations, although they also hand out other types of parking tickets. When they aren't patrolling for illegal parking, they drive through county neighborhoods keeping an eye on things as an extension of our county-wide Crime Watch program.

One Reserve deputy spends time assisting Sheriff's Office court security officers in the Monroe County Court system.

Several Reserve deputies help out in the Sheriff's Office Records Division, and in the Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Division performing clerical duties and entering information into computers.

There are also Reserve deputies on the Sheriff's Office Special Weapons and Tactics Team and the Honor Guard.

Sector 7

National Night Out planned for August

By Captain Jennifer Bell-Thomson, Commander Sector 7

The National Night Out event in Key Largo last August was a
big hit with area residents, who learned about crime prevention,
and met with deputies who patrolled their neighborhoods.

Sector 7 is finalizing plans for it's second National Night Out event, to be held Tuesday, August 3 at Key Largo Community Park from 7 pm - 9pm.  This event was a huge success last year, attended by hundreds of upper Keys residents supporting Neighborhood Crime Watch.   National Night Out is a celebration for those who continue to work toward having crime-free communities.  We'll have more news on this event in following Community Newsletters. 

A long-term project spearheaded by Zone Commander Lou Caputo and the Ocean Bay Estates crime watch has come to fruition this month.  A walking bridge attached to the hump-backed bridge on Ocean Bay Drive has finally been installed.  Residents in this neighborhood who bike and walk were not comfortable sharing that narrow bridge with vehicle traffic so they pitched the idea of a walking bridge to Mayor Nelson and that project has finally been completed.   

The latest news on the new building for the sheriff's office is good news - the project is slated for completion in October, right on schedule.  We will have a huge ribbon cutting ceremony that we hope will be attended by everyone in the community. 


County News

Pump-out Boat available soon in Upper Keys

People who live on their boats, from tailored houseboat to barely –maintained scows have been a consistent fixture throughout Monroe County’s history. As the general population in the Keys has increased, so has the number of folks who choose to “live aboard.”

One feature of living in the islands, whether on land or sea, is the constant need to dispose of waste—both in the form of trash and human waste. When live-aboards were few, the impact of actually flushing into the water may not have had a worrisome impact, but more recently the reality of allowing this practice to continue is a policy issue in Monroe County. 

Marine Resources has completed the details on purchasing and operating a pump-out boat that will be accessible to the public and comply with the new law. Most of the funding for the boat comes to the County from the federal government, channeled through the state in the form of a grant.  The grant will be earmarked for capital expenses, like the actual purchase of the boat.  Salary, maintenance and operation expenses will come from Boater Improvement funds, generated by the recently adopted boat registration fees.

The boat captain’s position will be a County employee, and associated salary will be added to the 2005 budget, approved in September.  “Once the boat is purchased and staffed, it will operate principally on the bay side of Key Largo,” says Marine Resources director George Garrett, adding that there are few pump-out stations available in that part of the Keys.

Garrett explains that the impetus for getting the boat was the Sheriff’s advisory committee, which recognized a growing sewage problem in the Upper Keys. “However, it is trailerable and will cruise around where it is needed.”Once the boat’s holding tank is full, it’s content will be pumped out in turn and transferred to a holding facility in Key Largo.  However, Garrett points out, “In the future, when waste-water facilities are established in Key Largo, it will go to those facilities instead.”

Operating hours and locations for the County’s pump-out boat will be established once they have been worked out with the local community and marinas. Boaters are urged to keep an eye on local newspapers or to check the county website for the pump-out boat’s debut.  Visit the County web-site: and click the Keep our Waters Clean Use Pumpouts link for information about current pump-out facilities available throughout the Keys.

County part of South Florida Domestic Security Exercise

Region Seven of the Southeast Domestic Security Task Force conducted a full-scale domestic security exercise at John Pennekamp Park in Key Largo last Thursday.

The Regional exercise included member agencies from: Monroe County Fire Rescue, Emergency Management, Sheriff’s Office, Key Largo Volunteer Ambulance Corp, Tavernier Volunteer Fire Rescue, Key Largo Volunteer Fire Rescue and Mariner’s Hospital. The exercise was co-sponsored by the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA), Division of Emergency Management (DEM). The exercise oversight agency was the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

The weapons of mass destruction exercise consisted of a full-scale terrorist scenario with several components all taking place on the same day. These incidents required multi-discipline, multi-jurisdictional local, Regional, State, and Federal response. Agencies practiced their response to a domestic security emergency resulting from terrorist acts at multiple locations throughout south Florida, including the Keys.

The John Pennekamp Park exercise scenario involved authorities pursuing terrorists attempting to escape to the Keys following an attack on Port Everglades. The terrorists broadside a dive boat that is in the process of retrieving its divers. Several divers receive serious traumatic injuries and are thrown overboard. A Mass Casualty Incident Alert is initiated and Monroe County Fire Rescue and local fire rescue agencies from the upper  keys are dispatched to assist in the treatment and transport of the injured. Monroe rescue helicopters are dispatched to assist. Monroe County Office of Emergency Management is activated and a Unified Command Post is established at the park visitor’s center to coordinate the emergency response to the mock incident.

An exercise such as this provides response agencies with opportunities to practically implement their emergency plans and procedures. The State of Florida and Region Seven of the Southeast Domestic Security Task Force conduct exercise programs to enhance the ability to protect the public from, and mitigate the consequences of, large-scale weapons of mass destruction terrorist attack on South Florida. The participation of local agencies from Monroe County and John Pennekamp State Park staff was instrumental in the success of the exercise.

Crime Prevention Tip of the Month:

Secure your home, vehicle and boat

We are seeing an increase recently in burglaries to homes and vehicles and an increase in the incidence of boating and fishing equipment theft. I want to remind everyone that the security of your home, your car and your boat is up to you. Take the time right now to review your security equipment and procedures when it comes to these items.

Walk around your house in the daytime and at night. Make sure you have secure locks on all exterior doors and windows and most importantly, USE THEM! Always lock your house when you leave, even for a short time, and lock all the doors and windows at night, while you are sleeping. Pick up and put away any tools, ladders or other equipment which might be used by a burglar to break into your home. Check the lighting and make sure the surrounding grounds are well lit. A burglar will avoid a home that offers no place to hide outside. If you don't feel comfortable checking your own security, call Crime Watch Coordinator Emil LaVache. He will set up a visit to your home and will perform a FREE home security survey, making recommendations for security improvements. His phone number is 305-292-7116 and his email address is

When it comes to vehicle burglaries, almost all of them happen to unlocked vehicles. Lock your vehicle when you leave it, even when it is parked on your street or in your driveway. NEVER leave your keys in the car and remove all valuables, or at the very least secure them in the trunk. Most vehicle burglaries are crimes of opportunity - someone walks by a car and sees the window open or the door unlocked and sees something of value sitting on the seat or floorboard and helps him or herself.

Boat burglaries are more difficult to prevent because boats are tough to secure. The best advice is to remove all valuable items from your boat when you aren't on it. It may not be an easy thing to do if you have a large number of rods and reels and electronic equipment, or if you are in a business such as charter boat fishing. But think about how inconvenient it will be if you go to your boat and find someone has stolen everything.





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This web site was last updated Thursday February 26, 2004

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