Community Relations Division................................................... March  2004 Edition

Sheriff's Report:

Spring break and Community Policing

It's official. Spring break in the keys has begun and this week, it is compounded by the fact that it is Daytona's Bike Week and we always see a bunch of motorcycles in the Keys during that week.

Most of the spring break hot spots have hired extra law enforcement and security officers to take care of any problems that might arise during this busy party time. Patrol officers will be spending time, when they aren't answering calls, looking out for drunk and/or reckless drivers.

In the meantime, be patient when you are driving and take your time getting wherever it is you are going. It is better to stay safe and get there a little late, than to risk your life and everyone else's by driving unsafely.

On another note, I wanted to talk a little about our zone command structure and how citizens can work with our zone commanders to tackle problems in their particular neighborhood. If you and your neighbors are having some type of ongoing problem, we want to know about it before it reaches the level of being a criminal issue.

We have our patrol officers organized by Sector and by zone. Sector 1 is the lower Keys, Sector 4 and 5 are the city of Marathon and the middle Keys; Sector 6 is the city of Islamorada and Sector 7 is the upper Keys. Within each sector there are two or three zones. Each zone has a zone commander, a sergeant by rank, whose job it is to know the zone, it's people and it's problems. Zone commanders wear many hats, but one of those hats is to be the person citizens can go to when they have a problem which needs to be solved. Click here for more details about our Sectors, Zones and Zone Commanders, or to find out who your zone commander is.

Two good examples of problem solving by zone commanders recently:

  • Sgt. Lou Caputo, the zone commander for Sector 7, Zone 1, has a Citizen's Advisory Group set up in his zone, as do many of our zone commanders. The group recently determined that one of the problems they want to see tackled in their zone is boat safety and sanitation. Lou set up a special operation using resources from the Sheriff's Office, Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Park Service and officers from the Sanctuary. On February 28th, they visited 70 boats off shore of the upper Keys, handing out educational material, warnings and some citations for safety and sanitation violations. Lou intends to continue tackling this issue in the future as well. Click here for more about the operation.

  • Sgt. Daryl Hull and his officers recently became aware of a neighborhood dispute on Big Pine Key, in Sector 1, Zone 3 - his area of operation. After meeting with neighbors, who told him about a man living in their neighborhood who was exhibiting bizarre and disruptive behavior to the point that many neighbors were afraid to go to sleep in their own homes. Within a short period of time the man was arrested for disorderly conduct when he was caught screaming profanities and using threatening language late at night. Subsequently, Sgt. Hull and his officers worked with the property owner to have the man evicted, thus solving the neighborhood problem.

We believe in Community Policing here in the Sheriff's Office and the Community Policing concept, while it is a multi-faceted one, has as one of it's goals solving problems in the community before they get out of control.  If we can solve the small problems before they become big ones, that will make our neighborhoods more pleasant to live in and will make our job - enforcing the law - easier as well.

If you have a problem, feel free to contact your zone commander on the phone, or by email. We want to hear from you.

Take care, and stay safe.

   Sheriff, Monroe County

General News:

Law Enforcement Operation targets boating safety, sanitation

A law enforcement operation targeting boating safety and sanitation served to educate the boating public Saturday and served as a warning to some who were caught violating the law.

An advisory group of citizens in the upper Keys recommended the operation take place. Members of the Sector 7, Zone 1 group, who live in the Tavernier area, said they feel boating safety and sanitation is an issue that needs to be targeted by law enforcement. Monroe County Sheriff's Sergeant Lou Caputo, who is the zone commander for that area, decided to set up an educational effort with other agencies to address the problem.

On Saturday at 9 a.m. officers from the Park Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Sanctuary and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office boarded seven boats and began an effort to contact as many boaters as they could to check for violations, and to hand out educational material. By 2 p.m., they had contacted 70 boats between Jewfish Creek and Tavernier Creek, on both the ocean side and bay side of the upper Keys.

"Our goal was really to let people know what the law says about safety and sanitation," said Sgt. Caputo. "We asked each boater if we could board the vessel and check it. Everyone we talked with gave us permission to board. Once on board, we checked all their safety equipment, and checked to make sure sanitation equipment was properly installed and operating," he said. Of the 70 boats checked, the group handed out 13 warnings and 11 citations. One person was arrested for boating under the influence of alcohol. The citations were almost exclusively handed out to boats that were pumping waste directly into the water without any sanitation equipment at all. All the boats were given a packet of information in a waterproof bag.

Sgt. Caputo wants everyone who owns a boat, particularly those who live on board them, to know that this will not be the last time this type of operation will take place. "We'll be doing this on a regular basis," he said. "We need to let people know that we expect them to follow the rules when it comes to safe and clean boating. All of our agencies consider this to be a priority, and we'll be working together to make sure the public knows it is a priority as well," he said.

Officers taking part in the safety and sanitation operation are briefed prior to going out on the water Saturday morning. Officers check safety equipment and sanitation on a houseboat moored off of a mangrove island on the bay side of the upper Keys.

 For the past four years, Sheriff's deputies have been patrolling the near-shore waters of the Keys with the help of Yamaha. Riva Yamaha and Key Largo Riva South have donated the use of new Waverunners every year to help with such patrol efforts. Over the years, the Waverunners have been used for search and rescue, boating safety programs, crime prevention patrols in county residential neighborhoods and assisting the Sheriff's Office dive team.

"We love the Yamaha Waverunners," said Sgt. Lou Caputo, who heads up the program. "We are able to reach many areas on the Waverunners that we just couldn't get to in a car or on a boat," he said. Caputo says Yamaha has donated 23 Waverunners over a four year period, or six per year  for 3 years and five this year. The Florida Keys is the largest recipient of Waverunners in the nationwide Law-Loaner program. Over 30 deputies have been trained in patrol methods on the craft.

Left to right, Steve Bandas, owner of Riva Yamaha,
Sheriff Rick Roth and Mike Martin, store manager
of Key Largo Riva South.

Sheriff's Office has job openings

Detention Records Asst.

Applicant needs to be self-motivated, able to multi-task, type, and have good communication skills. Applicant must be able to work various shifts. Responsibilities for the position include production, maintenance and processing of accurate, timely and complete records on information relating to a wide variety of law enforcement, corrections and court process activities. 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.

Communications Officer - Marathon

Monroe County Sheriffs Office is looking for a Communications Officer in Marathon. Job duties include responding to emergency 911 calls, providing pre-arrival instructions for medical emergencies, and dispatching units to appropriate locations. Ability to perform multi-tasks accurately, efficiently, and simultaneously. Applicants can contact Kristie at 292-7044 or send resume to or fax to (305) 292-7159. EEO/AAP.


Crime Prevention Tip of the Month:

The Importance of House Numbers

House numbers are a simple thing - posting your address on the outside of your house is one of those things you keep putting off until you have more time. Maybe you have a post office box, so you don't need to let the mail delivery person know where you live. But what happens if you have an emergency and deputies or an ambulance driver has to find your house in a hurry?

In an emergency, there isn't time to spend describing the location of the house where the help is needed. The seconds wasted may be crucial ones. It is much simpler to just make sure you have the proper house numbers installed on the outside of the house, where they can easily be seen. The numbers should be at least four inches high, and should be in a color that contrasts with the background they are installed on, whether it be your house, front door or fence. Most hardware stores carry them at a cost of about $1.00 per number.

Before you put it off again, think of what would happen under the following, not uncommon, circumstances:

Someone is driving by your house. No one is at home, but this passerby sees a burglar breaking in through a window. He/she picks up a cell phone to call 911 and looks for an address to give the dispatcher. What if there isn't an address posted? Precious seconds are wasted on a description of the location, while the burglar steals your belongings.

You are having a heart attack and call 911 for help. You pass out holding the phone, after dialing the correct number. The dispatcher gets the call, but no one is talking on the other end of the phone. Your address comes up on the dispatcher's screen, and she dispatches a deputy to check out the circumstances of the emergency call. He wastes several precious minutes because he can't find the address - there are no house numbers posted outside.

Both of these types of incidents happen all the time. And all for the simple lack of something as easy to install as house numbers.



Click here to sign up for this newsletter, or to let us know what you think of Community News
To unsubscribe to this newsletter, please send an email to and type "unsubscribe".

FastCounter by bCentral

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