Community Relations Division...............................................February 2003Edition

Sheriff's Report: We are YOUR Law Enforcement Agency

Welcome to the Sheriff's Office Community News, our new monthly on-line newsletter for the citizens of Monroe County. With this newsletter, we will be able to communicate directly with the citizens of our county, bringing you crime prevention and safety tips, bulletins about crime trends, crime statistics and other information we hope you all find useful in your daily lives.

We at the Sheriff's Office work hard to keep our community safe, and we want to make sure everyone knows who we are, and how to reach us. We want to be responsive to the issues that concern you, so make sure you let us know what you consider to be a priority for law enforcement in our county. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me directly at, or any one of the employees in the Sheriff's Office.

We offer many easy ways to let us know what you think. On our web site,, we offer survey forms for residents and non-residents, as well as an "Issues of the Week" page where you can send us your comments, and read other peoples comments as well.

The Sheriff's Office is organized by Sectors and Zones, and you can find specific information about each area of the Keys by visiting our Jurisdiction page, including the address of each substation in the Keys, the names and contact information for each sector commander as well as the  names and contact information for each Zone Commander. Please feel free to contact any one of them if you have questions or concerns about your particular neighborhood.

We work for you, but we can't do our job without the cooperation and assistance of everyone. If you see a crime happening, or have information you think might help us stop a crime before it takes place, call us immediately. We'd much rather prevent crime than have to investigate it after the fact.

Take care, and stay safe.

   Sheriff, Monroe County

Community Policing Course offered

A two day, 16 hour Community Policing course will be offered three times in March to law enforcement officers and Monroe County residents who wish to gain a better understanding of the fundamental elements of the community policing philosophy, and its implications for police operations and for the community. The course will be sponsored by The Florida Regional Community Policing Institute at St. Petersburg College, and will take place in the middle Keys to accommodate all of those who wish to attend. Click here for flyer in PDF format

Seating in the course is limited. The course will be taught the following three dates and places:
1. March 3rd and 4th - Key Colony Beach City Hall
2. March 5th & 6th - KCB City Hall
3. March 7th & 8th - Marathon Government Center
Classes are from 8:00 am - 5:00 pm.

Participants will: D
evelop  an understanding of the importance of engaging community residents in collaborative partnerships for the purpose of identifying and resolving community problems; Become familiar with the nature of police-community partnerships and suggested methods of developing partnerships.  Develop an understanding of a nationally accepted model for solving community problems; Use the problem solving process to address several example community problems to enhance their understanding; Recognize the importance and benefits of documenting their problem-solving projects.

Course Objectives:

  • Police-Community Partnerships

  • Introduction to Problem-Solving Policing

  • Problem Solving Practical Exercises

  • Action Planning

  • Crime Prevention

  • Community Policing Resource Development

Who can attend:

  • Any Law enforcement officer (community policing patrol, crime prevention, campus police), civilian employees, probation officers, and social service agencies.

  • Community leaders and citizens

  • Chiefs and Sheriffs who are interested in starting and maintaining community policing in their communities

  • Business managers, Executives and employees

  • Mayors, City Managers, Council Members, trustees and government leaders.

Dress: Casual Clothing is recommended. Shorts, tank tops and/or offensive t-shirts are not acceptable.

The Instructor:  Sgt. Jake Walker began his law enforcement career with the North Palm Beach Police Department in 1992. He served as a Patrol Officer, community policing officer and a police explorer advisor. In 1994 Sgt. Walker began working with the Collier County Sheriff's Office in Naples, Florida. He has served in several units at the Sheriff's Office including field training, street gang task force and S.W.A.T. as well as a patrol officer and a supervisor. Sgt. Walker currently supervises a domestic violence detective unit.

Call Sergeant Dennis Cain at 289-2430 for reservations and commitment, or email him at

Sector 7: Working to make 2003 a safe year!
By Captain Jennifer Bell-Thomson, Commander Sector 7

Happy New Year!  I am looking forward to communicating with everyone through this monthly email newsletter, another idea of Becky Herrin’s. As our public information officer and web author, Becky is always searching for ways to keep the public informed and keep them in touch with what’s happening in our community.  It helps us, too, by quickly getting important information out so that people know about crimes we’re trying to solve. It’s another great crime prevention tool as well. She is to be congratulated for all her great ideas.  This also happens to mesh perfectly with one of the goals we’ve set for ourselves in Sector 7 for 2003, which is to use all our resources to communicate crime prevention information to the public. 

Sector 7 is the sheriff’s office district covering the north end of Tavernier Creek bridge to the county line on US1 and Card Sound Road.  Our staff consists of 36 people, including one captain and lieutenant, five sergeants, 25 deputies, one records supervisor and two records clerks.  There is also a Detective Sergeant, Corey Bryan, seven detectives, and one detective secretary, who work cases in the upper Keys, including Islamorada, but who report to the special operations commander, Captain Ross Thomson.   

Our sector is split into three patrol zones and each zone has a commander. Sgt. Lou Caputo covers the area from Tavernier to mm 101; Sgt. Don Fanelli is responsible for Key Largo, and Sgt. David Stark for Ocean Reef. Additionally, Tavernier and Key Largo each have one zone sergeant, Sgt. Deborah Ryan in Key Largo and Sgt. Jerry Leathers in Tavernier.  A zone commander is much like a chief of police for his zone.  He is responsible for all activity which occurs in the zone.  Deputies and sergeants are permanently assigned to these areas.  In this way they become more familiar with what belongs and doesn’t belong in an area, and there is a better opportunity for residents to come to know the deputy assigned to their area.  This closeness with the community fosters good two-way communication. We can solve and prevent crime when residents know their neighborhood deputy because people are more inclined to report suspicious incidents and provide other information to people they see on a regular basis. 

I’d like to now touch on our law enforcement philosophy in Sector 7.  We believe that law enforcement should operate just as profit-making businesses do.  We have a product that the public pays for – the safety and security of residents and visitors.   We profit when the crime rate is low.  It’s just that simple.  The tactics and strategies that we use to accomplish a low crime rate are many – and every one of them can be made stronger and more effective when the public participates in our efforts. 

Solving problems is a large part of what we do on a daily basis.  Deputies are encouraged to actively seek out problem areas and apply whatever resources necessary to resolve the problem.  Such problems can run the gamut from serious law enforcement offenses (like drug dealing in a neighborhood) to quality of life issues (an abandoned building being used as a place for people to party).  Whenever a deputy responds to a location more than two or three times he or she is required to determine why the police continue to be called and to take proactive measures to resolve the problem.   

One of our strategies this year is to focus heavily on crime prevention education.  Many crimes are committed because the perpetrator saw an easy target.  If we can reduce the attractiveness of those targets we can reduce crime even more.  One of the ways to do that is through the Neighborhood Crime Watch program.  Statistics prove year after year that this is one of the most effective crime prevention programs.  The numbers of crimes committed in non-crime watch neighborhoods are exponentially higher than that of participating neighborhoods.  The program is free, requires very little time and effort and the payoff is tremendous.  If you are a member of a homeowner’s association that does not participate in Neighborhood Crime Watch, please encourage your membership to do so.  You call me or any of the zone commanders at 853-3211, or Deputy Emil LaVache, who is our crime watch coordinator, at 292-7116.  There is a Business Crime Watch program also.  Our goal is to have at least 10 more neighborhoods participating in this program by the end of the year. We’d love to have more – please let us hear from you. 

Another focus in 2003 will be to emphasize the link between crime and disorder.  Much can be said about the message a community sends to its visitors and its potential criminals in terms of the way a community looks. Neighborhood streets littered with abandoned vehicles and debris, missing street and traffic signs, overgrown properties, buildings in disrepair, are all attractive to criminals because this clearly says the people who live there don’t care about their neighborhood and probably won’t be too aware if someone’s house or business is being burglarized.  Likewise, visitors we want to have here will bypass the area looking for a more cared-for community.  Keeping a neighborhood and a community free from debris and disorder is an easy crime prevention tool  and economy-booster.

 We’re open to input from our most important resource – you!  Please feel free to contact any one of us for ways in which we can continue to improve our service to you.  I look forward to hearing from you. 

K-9 Unit 

The Islamorada Sheriffs Sector acquired a police canine dog in 2002. The canine “Storm” a Belgium Malinous and his handler / partner Sergeant Tim Hurd are graduates of Canine Concepts training academy in Broussard, Louisiana. “Storm” is trained in basic patrol, narcotics detection, tracking and handler protection. Since coming to the Village the K-9 team has assisted U.S. Customs and the Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Unit in several cases including the seizure of over $126,000 in currency. “Storm” was purchased for the Village by Sheriff Roth utilizing seized drug moneys at a cost of $5,000. For information on the K-9 Unit contact Sergeant Tim Hurd at

Marine Patrol Unit

One of the first goals of the Village of Islamorada upon contracting with the Sheriffs Office was to establish a full time police presence on the near shore waters within the Village. This goal was accomplished in 2002 with the purchase of a 24-foot Angler patrol boat. The vessel was purchased for the Village by Sheriff Roth utilizing seized drug proceeds. The Marine Unit became fully functional in October of 2002 when the Village Council elected to fund a full-time officer to be assigned specifically to marine patrol duties. The Marine Unit operates with a philosophy of eliciting compliance vs. enforcement promoting boating safety through education. However, the unit is charged with enforcing nautical laws and city ordinances and does so rigorously when appropriate.

Over the past several months representatives of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, National Marine Sanctuary, Monroe County Marine Resources and the Village of Islamorada have met to consider ways of making the Whale Harbor Channel area safer. Also under consideration are ways of dealing with the large groups of boaters that flock to the sandbar on holiday weekends. 

Currently there are plans being made for a joint agency law enforcement presence for the annual Hospitality Expo event (formerly Bartenders Week) that is held by Holiday Isle.  Also the Coast Guard is looking at moving some channel markers to widen the channel near the sandbar. Other actions being considered are designating and posting the adjacent flats area ocean side of Windley Key as a Non-Combustible Engine Exclusion Zone or No Motor Zone.  The County Commission may be asked to consider an ordinance to designate the No Motor Zones.  The Village of Islamorada already has a city ordinance that requires Minimum Wake from boats within 300 feet of shore.

For marine law enforcement related issues in Village waters contact Deputy Nelson Sanchez at

The City of Marathon and Sector 5
By Captain Robert P. Peryam, Commander, Marathon District

A major portion of Sectors 4 and 5 is the City of Marathon where our substation is located, in the vicinity of 31st Street oceanside. Our Sectors also include the City of Key Colony Beach, Grassy Key, Duck Key and the City of Layton. So when I speak in general of the conditions and activities in Marathon, this concerns all of the area from the 7 Mile Bridge to the outskirts of Village of Islamorada.

2002 was a banner year for us in Marathon. We continued our focus on strict traffic enforcement as requested by the Marathon City Council. We not only cut the number of traffic crashes by 33.9%, but this played an important part in cutting the overall crime in Marathon by 5.3% with a drop in violent crimes and felonies of 12.5%. It stands to reason, and has been proven by scientific study, that high police presence on the roadways effects overall crime by decreasing its impact. It is important to note that this was during a year where crime as a whole in the State of Florida was up.

February 9th thru 15th is Florida Child Passenger Safety Week. We are holding a Child Seat Safety Check-up event on Wednesday, February 12th at the Ramada Inn Oceanview, 13351 Overseas Highway in Marathon across from the Quay. The event will be held from 3PM to 6PM so that working parents will have an opportunity to attend. We will have certified child seat technicians from the Sheriff's Office as well as the Florida Highway Patrol on hand to inspect and properly install your existing child seats in your vehicles. Please bring the child seat you have and the vehicle you intend on using it in and we will make sure it is installed properly and make sure your child is getting the most safety from the device. This service is free, please attend and lets make the roads safer for us all, especially our children.

We are scheduling a Community Oriented Policing class to be offered in Marathon next month. This class is taught by St. Petersburg College and is designed not only for police officers, but for private citizens, with the goal being to enhance community partnerships and teach problem solving techniques. It is a two-day class which will be offered three separate times. It will be offered at KCB City Hall on March 3rd and 4th, followed by another class on March 5th and 6th. A third session will be offered at the Monroe County Government Center in Marathon (where the County Commission and City Council meet) on March 7th and 8th. The class will be held daily from 8AM to 5PM and is completely free to citizens wishing to attend . Reservations are required as seating is limited. Call Sergeant Dennis Cain at 289-2430 for reservations and commitment. We would like to see a good number of residents in the class in order to continue working together to make our community stronger and safer.

On a final note of invitation, I would like to ask everyone to attend the upcoming Sheriff’s Quarterly Awards Ceremony on Friday, February 7th at 2PM at the Monroe County Government Center in Marathon. One of your very own partners in crime prevention, Deputy Louis Rivera of the Marathon Station, will be receiving the Sheriff’s Medal of Valor for conspicuous bravery during a violent arrest in November 2002. There will be many other awards and recognitions given at that ceremony. Let's show Deputy Rivera, and all of our law enforcement officers, that we are thinking about them and supporting them. Be there to experience this important moment in their lives and careers.

Thank you, and lets keep working together to make this the greatest community it can be, for all of our residents and visitors.

Crime Stoppers Wants You!

Crime fighting volunteers needed. Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys is seeking new board members to help in the fight against crime. Crime Stoppers is a non-profit corporation that assists local law enforcement through operation of an anonymous tip line.

The board raises money to reward tipsters and also decides on the amount of rewards given. Meetings are held quarterly. Most business is conducted through e-mail. If you are interested in serving, give Community Relations Director Greg Artman a call at 292-7116.

Professional Standards:
Making sure the Sheriff's Office meets state and national standards of professionalism

The Office of Professional Standards 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), and 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.

Over the past year,  the Monroe County Sheriff's Office achieved National CALEA accreditation. The Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement was designed to:

  • increase law enforcement agency capabilities to prevent and control crime;

  • increase agency effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of law enforcement services;

  • increase cooperation and coordination with other law enforcement agencies and with other agencies of the criminal justice system;

  • increase citizen and employee confidence in the goals, objectives, policies and practices of the agency.

Basically CALEA gives the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and other agencies an opportunity to voluntarily demonstrate that we meet an established set of professional standards.

The Sheriff's Office is also accredited by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement, and on March 12th, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office will be having an on site inspection to maintain that state accreditation. As with CALEA, under state accreditation the Sheriff's Office must maintain and comply with a specific set of standards.

Professional Standards is also working on a  Job Task Analysis project. This project is designed to update all agencies job descriptions and will be used as a computer based  performance evaluation system. The Job Task Analysis Project will be conducting training in March for all agency supervisors and we hope to implement the program in April.

If you have any questions concerning Professional Standards Office please contact Lieutenant Bruce Winegarden at 305-292-7034. Sheriff Roth is committed to Accreditation and to maintaining a professional and efficient agency.

Florida Hazardous Weather Awareness Week
February 17th - 21st

Governor Jeb Bush, in cooperation with the National Weather Service, the Florida Department of Community Affairs, and the 67 Florida County Emergency Management Agencies will, during the third week in February, be working to better educate the public about Florida hazardous weather,  including the dangers of lightning, Hurricanes and Flooding, tornados and thunderstorms, marine hazards and temperature extremes and wildfires. For more information on these topics, visit the Hurricane Preparation section of the Sheriff's Office web site, or the Florida Department of Emergency Management's "Hazardous Weather: A Florida Guide".

Buckle Up Florida

February 10 - 23, 2003 is National Child Passenger Safety Week

Did you know that it is against the law in Florida to drive without a safety belt? If you or your kids ride unbuckled, you risk getting a hefty ticket, or worse, injury or death in a crash. Drive safely and buckle up your whole family. They will be thankful you did. Buckle Up Florida, it's the law. 

Sergeant Roy Bogue will be hosting a child safety seat check on Friday Feb. 14 at Islamorada's Founders Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.. Trained and certified officers will check to make sure your child's safety seat is installed properly. If you would like to have your child's safety seat checked free of charge, please stop by!  For more information, visit

Pay attention to your child's phone calls!

Law Enforcement officers in Fort Lee, New Jersey say they are investigating reports of a man who telephones residences claiming to be from Children's Services or claims to be conducting a survey of children aged 8 to 10 years old. He asks to speak to a young child and, when they are on the phone with him, he engages the child in lewd and obscene conversation. It appears that he does not restrict his calls to the New Jersey area - phone records reportedly show calls to other states as well.

No one in Monroe County has reported such an incident, but it does serve to remind everyone to pay attention to the phone calls your child receives. If someone calls your home asking to speak to your child and you do not know who the person is, hang up the phone or ask for a phone number where you can call the person back. If the caller is legitimate, he or she should have no problem giving you such information. As always, if something like this happens to your family, call the Sheriff's Office immediately.

Cadet/Explorers offer positive experiences for community youth

The Law Enforcement Explorer/Cadet Program was started with the intention of providing the youth of Monroe County the opportunity to explore a career in law enforcement and develop a more positive relationship between youth and law enforcement officers. 

The program covers the major areas of law enforcement, and strives to build character, determination and life skills in its members. In addition, the program provides each explorer the tools he/she needs in order to make a decision about a possible career in law enforcement.   

 The Explorers participate in a wide variety of community activities and service projects throughout Monroe County. They work closely with a number of non-profit groups trying to make a difference in our Keys communities.  The Explorers pride themselves on being courteous, dependable and professional in everything that they do.  

Membership Requirements:

  • Young people between the ages of 11 and 21.

  • Maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average.

  • No criminal history.

  • Be of good moral character.

  • Willing to follow federal, state and local laws.

  • Abide by Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Policies and Procedures and Explorer Post bylaws.  

If you are interested in joining the program, or have a question about the program please contact the Explorer Program Supervisor Sgt. John Barber at 

Cadets hold fundraiser

Explorer/Cadet fundraiser. The three Sheriff's Explorer/Cadet posts in the Keys are raffling off a 20 foot catamaran as a fundraiser. The catamaran is valued at $30,000. Tickets are ten dollars. The drawing is May 1st, 2003. The catamaran is provided by Port Side Marina in Key Largo. For information, call 1-800-283-2677.

Crime Prevention Tip of the Month:
How to prevent most automobile burglaries

During the busy tourist season in the Keys, we always see an increase in automobile burglaries. These burglaries frequently take place at common sightseeing spots throughout the Keys, such as beaches and bridges. They also take place in front of homes and in driveways in our residential neighborhoods.

Most often, thieves will simply walk or drive down a residential street trying every car door until they find one open. This should make the method of preventing such a crime obvious: lock your car doors any time you aren't inside. The solution is a simple one, but many people become victims because they fail to take this one simple step to keep their belongings secure.

Sometimes, thieves are willing to do physical damage to a vehicle to get to the valuable inside. This is usually because the valuables are visible, sitting on the seat or floorboards of the vehicle. When it comes to your computer, cell phone, cash, camera, expensive sunglasses or other valuable items, it literally pays to remove them from your car, or at least put them somewhere out of site of a passer-by.

By following these simple steps to make your automobile more secure, you could avoid becoming a victim, and you could help reduce crime in the Keys.

For more Crime Prevention Tips, please visit the Crime Prevention Tips portion of our web site.


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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

Labelled with ICRA