May 31, 2007

Monroe County crime shows an increase this year, but a major decrease over time

Major index crimes increased overall in Monroe County, according to reports by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Monroe County index crimes, excluding the city of Key West, went up 3.9% in 2006.

Major index crimes include Murder, Forcible Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Larceny and Motor Vehicle Theft. The Sheriff’s Office is required to report these and other crimes to FDLE, which tracks them for the entire state.  In Monroe County, excluding the city of Key West, there were increases in all of those categories except Larceny and  Forcible Rape. The clearance rates for major index crimes did, however, increase. Clearance rates are the percentage of reported crimes which are cleared by arrest, or by other means. The following index crimes were reported:

Type of Crime          2005 Crimes                  2006 Crimes       
Murder                           0                                       0                           
Forcible Rape               18                                      15                         
Robbery                       21                                      32                          
Aggravated Assault       161                                    200
Burglary                       387                                  422
Larceny                     1,476                               1,454
Motor Vehicle Theft      97                                     122
Total crimes               2,160                                2,245

To give perspective, FDLE offers major crimes reports by county going back to 1989 (see attached report. Note that this report is for counties INCLUDING municipal data). In that year, Monroe County (including the city of Key West) reported total index crimes of 10,315 for a reported population of 78,966. In 2005, there were a total of 4,602 major index crimes reported for a population of 81,236. The number of crimes per 100,000 people for those two years, for comparison purposes, went from 13,062 in 1989 to 4,604 in 2005.

“We are proud to report that the citizens of our county are much less likely to be a victim of a crime today than they were 16 years ago,” said Sheriff Rick Roth. “We have seen a steady and dramatic decrease in crime over the years. Like this year, there have been several other years when we have seen small increases but the overall picture is certainly impressive and we expect the trend downward to continue.”

MAY 18, 2007

Law Enforcement Memorial Day

Every day on the job law enforcement officers face the reality of life-threatening violence. More than 18,000 officers have been killed in America in the line of duty since 1791, and in 2005, one law enforcement officer was killed every 2.3 days while serving his or her community. Monroe County has lost seven in the last century, including Key West Police Detective John Piskator last year.

On Friday, May 18, those officers who made the supreme sacrifice will be remembered in a public Law Enforcement Memorial Day ceremony at 6 p.m. at Bayview Park. Hosted by the Key West Police Department and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, the ceremony will include the traditional wreath laying, a gun salute, prayer, and the reading of the roll of Florida officers killed on-duty over the past year.

Special remembrance will be reserved for Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy Frank Adams, killed in 1901, Key West Police Officer Clarence Till, 1904, Sheriff's Game Warden Guy Bradley, 1905, Key West Police Officer Norman Drew, 1975, Sheriff's deputies David Cormier and Michael Alexander, 1980 and 1998 respectively, and Detective Piskator, 2006.

Everyone is encouraged to come out and join their local law enforcement officers and city officials in honoring those officers who sacrificed their lives to ensure public safety.

May 8, 2007

Sheriff honors Employees of the First Quarter

In the attached photo: Left to right, Cadet Alisa Vartoumian, Deputy Kenneth Fricke,
Farm/Landscape Specialist Jeanne Selander, Detention Deputy Thomas Careaga and Sheriff Rick Roth.

In a ceremony Friday, the Sheriff's Office honored it's Employees of the First Quarter, 2007. The following employees received awards:

SWORN Law Enforcement Officer of the Quarter:
Deputy Kenneth Fricke (assigned to the middle Keys) has worked for the Sheriff since June 2005.  On February 14, 2007 Deputy Fricke assisted another Deputy in a DUI investigation.  Deputy Fricke remained with the arrestee's vehicle waiting for the tow company.  As he was waiting, another vehicle pulled onto the shoulder next to him.  An extremely frantic passenger jumped out of the car carrying a child who was completely limp.  Deputy Fricke noted that the child was unconscious and had begun to turn blue.

Deputy Fricke retrieved a pair of latex gloves and a CPR facemask from his patrol car and moved the child into position to begin CPR. Suddenly, the child gasped for breath then began breathing on his own. Deputy Fricke was in the right place at the right time, and was trained and able to perform the necessary rescue techniques which helped the child to breath again. 
Detention Deputy Thomas Careaga (assigned to the main facility on Stock Island) has worked for the Sheriff since April 2005.  On March 7, 2007 a high profile inmate who had been involved with several severe “use of force” incidents in the last month spread bodily wastes all over his cell and his body.  He then began to bang on the cell door with his feet and hands.   

Detention Deputy Careaga had, in the past, successfully interacted with the inmate.  Because of his past success, he was called in to see if he could assist.  He calmly began talking with the inmate, at the same time, gently wiping the filth off the inmate through the food port in the door of the cell.  After several minutes of this treatment, the inmate voluntarily put his wrists out to be handcuffed.  Officers were then able to remove him from the cell so he could be cleaned up.

If it were not for Detention Deputy Careaga’s professional support the incident may have escalated.
Animal Farm/Landscaping Specialist Jeanne Selander (Main Detention facility and Headquarters building, Key West) has worked for the Sheriff since September 2006.  From day one Ms. Selander has gone above and beyond her duties, showing a true love for her job. Ms. Selander has overhauled the farm making it a true showplace, and has also tackled the extensive and difficult task of making sure the grounds are well cared for, weeded and worthy of a professional work place.

Ms. Selander has also worked very hard to promote the farm and make it available to the community.  There has been an impressive increase in the number of visitors to the farm on a consistent basis.  During her time here she has made the front page of several newspapers with photo’s and articles about the farm and her work.  Recently Ms. Selander and the Sheriff were featured in a national law enforcement publication about the farm.

Reserve Deputy Robert Bleser (assigned to the Special Operations Division) has worked for the Sheriff since January of 2004.  Auxiliary Deputy Bleser, an active member of the Sheriff's Dive Team, worked tirelessly behind the scenes of a recent fatal dive accident in the upper Keys to insure adequate response from all concerned agencies.  The tragedy on the Spiegel Grove was professionally resolved without further loss of life or limb due in large part to Deputy Bleser’s insight and preparation and his multi agency training prior to this joint recovery effort. 

Cadet Alisa Vartoumian (a member of the lower Keys Cadet Post 904)  joined the program in August 2005.  Cadet Vartoumian has worked her way up to the rank of Lieutenant of Post 904 through diligence and dedication to the program.  During the past two years Alisa has organized and instructed training for Post 904.   She has also been instrumental in getting Post 904 as well as other posts outfitted in Class “A” uniforms. Throughout this quarter Alisa has logged a total of 218 hours in our ride-along program.  She also took part in a special detail with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Sheriff's Office Marine unit.

May 8, 2007

Sobriety Checkpoint results

Two Sobriety Checkpoints were held over the past weekend in the upper Keys.

On Friday, a checkpoint at the 103 mile marker of the highway appears to have succeeded in keeping drunk drivers off of the highway. Sgt. Eric Mixon, who organized the effort, says they had no drunk drivers stopped during the checkpoint over the five hours from 10 p.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Saturday. He said he noticed more taxis on the highway than usual and he said there were a number of drunk passengers in cars stopped in the checkpoint, but they all had designated sober drivers transporting them. Officers checked a total of 361 cars that night, and arrested five people on various charges - one felony and four misdemeanors.

On Saturday, the checkpoint at the 90 mile marker caught a few more people engaging in dangerous behavior. Checkpoint officers administered nine field sobriety exercises to people who appeared to be impaired; those exercises resulted in four arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol. Officers at the checkpoint stopped a total of 509 vehicles in five hours; they arrested one person on an outstanding warrant, one person for driving with license suspended (DWLS); issued 11 notices to appear in court - six for DWLS and five for other violations; they handed out six seat belt citations, 32 other types of citations and 18 warnings.

"Prevention of drunk driving, and going after those who choose to drive drunk continues to be a priority for the Sheriff's Office," said Colonel Rick Ramsay. "Drunk drivers kill people - we see that too often on our highway. If you see someone driving drunk, call 911 immediately and report it. You might just save someone's life," he said.

May 8, 2007

Offshore clean up successful

Key Largo - A clean up of waters near John Pennekamp State Park resulted in quite a pile of debris being removed from the water.
The Sheriff's Office Marine Unit, the Department of Environmental Protection, John Pennekamp State Park and State Park concessions all worked together to remove the debris from the entrance to South Sound Creek the morning of May 3rd.

The success of this clean up has prompted another one. On May 10th, the same group will be cleaning up a channel that enters the park Marina off shore of mile marker 103. The area will be closed to boat traffic from sunup until approximately 7:30 a.m. on that day.

May 8, 2007

Sheriff's Office to hold vehicle auction

Visit to download a bid package with a list of vehicles to be sold

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will sell a number of surplus vehicles by sealed bids. All bids must be received by no later than 10:00 a.m. on May 22, 2007, at which time they will be opened publicly. A list of vehicles to be sold may be viewed at our web site: www.

Bidding instructions and required bid forms are available on the web site as well, or at the Sheriff’s Headquarters building in Key West, or by contacting;

Johnnie Yongue
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
5525 College Road
Key West, Fl. 33040

The property to be sold is open to public inspection at the Sheriff’s Impound Yard adjacent to MCSO Headquarters at 5525 College Road, Stock Island, Key West, Florida on the following dates and times:

May 15, 2007 ---- 9:00 a.m.- 11:00 a.m.
May 17, 2007 ---- 2:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m.

All property is sold “as is, where is” – no guarantee of mechanical condition.

May 8, 2007

Animal Farm open Sunday - new animals to visit

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Animal Farm invites you to celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday at the farm and visit with the farm's newest residents, Wilbur and Isabel.

Wilbur is a five month old, white potbelly pig who loves attention, and children are welcome to pet him. Isabel is a black and white potbelly pig; she is a year and a half old and is very shy, but Farmer Jeanne is hoping the friendly visitors to the farm will help her become more gregarious.  We also have two new ferrets named Jake and Snowball. They join long time farm resident Joey, a friendly blond ferret who always loves people.  Visitors may even catch a glimpse of our new baby peacock as it wanders the grounds under the watchful eye of its mother.

The Sheriff's Animal Farm has so much to offer and best of all, it is free of charge. What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The farm is open the second and fourth Sundays of every month from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. In addition to the animals mentioned above, visitors will see tropical birds, snakes, rabbits, horses, ponies, a llama, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, an 100 pound tortoise and more.

The Children's Animal Farm is located at the Stock Island Detention Center, just off of College Road. Groups may make special arrangements to visit the farm as well. Call the Sheriff's Office Detention Center at 305-293-7300 and ask for Farmer Jeanne Selander to schedule a visit.

May 2, 2007

Sheriff, State Attorney and DCF participate in child abduction training

Three local government agencies recently sent representatives to a special type of training, paid for by the Federal Government: Child Abduction Response Team (CART) training. The group of eight traveled to Newport, Rhode Island to participate in the intensive five day session which teaches how to quickly and effectively respond in the event a child is missing or abducted.

"It is important to be able to respond quickly under these circumstances, and to have people trained and ready to go in order to find the child immediately," said Sheriff Rick Roth. "CART teams have been formed in numerous jurisdictions in Florida, and are now being formed all over the country. We are now bringing this important resource to the citizens of Monroe County."

 The Office of Justice Programs launched the national CART initiative in November 2005. The model for the program was created in Florida as a result of the abduction of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia in Sarasota, Fla. in February 2004. Members of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) Orlando Regional Operations Center determined a need for their region to have trained experts in the field of child abduction investigation and response who could respond to an abduction immediately, assist the lead local law enforcement agency and bring addition regional resources to the recovery effort. OJP has modified Florida's local CART model and adopted it for use nationwide.

OJP's nationwide development of the CART program builds upon the remarkable success of AMBER Alert. AMBER Alerts have helped save the lives of hundreds of children nationwide. CART can be used for all missing children cases and can be deployed as part of an AMBER Alert or when a child is abducted or missing, but the abduction/disappearance does not meet the AMBER Alert criteria.

AMBER Alerts are issued only when a child abduction meets the specific AMBER Alert criteria, when law enforcement has enough descriptive information about the abductor or the abductor's vehicle to alert the public. CART can also be used to recover runaway children if they are under 18 and are in danger.

"We will now be working on marshalling the resources necessary to deploy our CART team when such a situation takes place," said Sgt. Trish Dally who heads up the Sheriff's Crimes Against Women and Children's Unit. "A CART team has to be ready to go, and team members have to know where the necessary resources are and that they are available to them at a moment's notice."

Dally hopes to bring CART training to the Keys so more agencies can participate and become a part of the team. The more agencies involved, the more resources are available and the more successful the team can be when a child goes missing, she says.

The Monroe County State Attorney's Office, the Monroe County Office of the Department of Children and Families and the Sheriff's Office will be meeting together on a regular basis, along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and any other agencies who wish to participate in this process.

"Our children are so important to us. How can we not commit the necessary resources and be ready in the event that a child goes missing or is abducted?" said Sheriff Rick Roth. "This training is a crucial step in the commitment to keep our children safe," he said.

"Protecting Monroe County's children is our number one priority," said State Attorney Mark Kohl.  "Better training and better tools help us do that job as well as we can."

Department of Children and Families Sub District Administrator Elena Herrara attended the training and will participate on Monroe County's CART team.

"DCF Secretary Robert Butterworth recently singed a statewide memorandum of agreement with FDLE committing our resources and staff to participate in local CART teams," Herrara said. "It is our mission to protect children and through this unified effort, we will be better prepared to respond in Monroe County. The training was a great opportunity to learn from other teams within Florida and other parts of our country and was an excellent networking opportunity as well," she said.

Attending the training were Sheriff's office employees Lt. Nancy Alvarez, Sgt. Patricia Dally, Detective Mark Coleman, Communications Supervisor Terri Story, Public Information Officer Becky Herrin; Chief Assistant State Attorney Catherine Vogel and State Attorney Investigator Andrew Kempel; and DCF Sub District Administrator Elena Herrera.

On January 13, 2006, DOJ marked the tenth anniversary of the AMBER Alert and honored the memory of Amber Hagerman who was abducted on that day in 1996. In May 2005, OJP joined the wireless industry and other government officials to announce that wireless users can opt to receive geographically specified messages on their wireless devices through an AMBER Alert wireless messaging system. In February 2005, OJP announced that with the addition of Hawaii, all 50 states now have statewide AMBER Alert plans.

The PROTECT Act, which President Bush signed into law in April 2003, statutorily established the National AMBER Coordinator and required the coordinator to facilitate AMBER network development, support development of state AMBER plans, help eliminate geographic gaps in AMBER networks, provide regional coordination, and establish guidance on criteria for issuing an AMBER Alert. More information can be found at

May 1, 2007

Sobriety Checkpoints scheduled for the upper Keys

Drivers in the upper Keys should be aware of two sobriety checkpoints scheduled for this weekend in the upper Keys.

On Friday, May 4th a sobriety checkpoint will be set up in the vicinity of the 103 mile marker of the highway in Key Largo between the hours of 10 p.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Saturday. Cars will be stopped and checked for proper safety equipment, and drivers will be checked for signs of alcohol consumption. The checkpoint is being organized and conducted by Sgt. Eric Mixon and the patrol officers under his command.

On Saturday, May 5th the same activity will be taking place at the 90 mile marker of the highway, in the city of Islamorada from 10 p.m Saturday until 3 a.m. Sunday. This checkpoint is being organized and conducted by Sgt. Tom Kiffney and the patrol officers under his command.

The Sheriff's Office is always on the alert for impaired drivers, and drunk driving is a priority 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with hundreds of driving under the influence arrests being made every year. These checkpoints are just another tool in law enforcement's arsenal against the deadly practice of drunk driving.

May 1, 2007

Sheriff's Marine Unit to help with clean up

For two hours on Thursday, May 3rd, South Sound Creek offshore of Key Largo will be closed to boating traffic while a clean up of the waterway takes place.

Between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m., Upper Keys Marine Deputies Lee Cowart and Sever Hustad will help with the clean up along with the Department of Environmental Protection, the United States Coast Guard and employees of John Pennekamp State Park. There is reportedly an accumulation of underwater debris in the area which will be removed.

The Sheriff's Office will provide vessel traffic patrol while the clean up takes place.