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Division of Law Enforcement
May 20 through May 26, 2016
This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week; however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement.
Patrol, Protect, Preserve
FWC Officers Barnard and Cushing responded to a disturbance aboard a broken down vessel on the Escambia River. A nearby concerned citizen called in the disturbance after hearing threats from one of the subjects onboard this vessel that were directed towards several other subjects also onboard the vessel. The situation escalated and a second report was called in stating that the person making the threats was now armed. Officers Barnard and Cushing located the vessel and removed the suspect. An Escambia County deputy arrived and the suspect and the incident was turned over to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office for further investigation.
Officer Corbin was on land patrol conducting state fisheries inspections at the Okaloosa Island Gulf Fishing Pier. Officer Corbin recognized an individual that he had previously cited for a derelict vessel violation. After confirming that the individual had failed to appear in court and the existence of an active arrest warrant, the officer arrested the individual and transported him to Okaloosa County Jail.
Officer Maltais was on land patrol conducting state fisheries inspections when he observed an individual fishing off a local marina in Shalimar. After making contact with the individual, the officer asked him if he caught any fish. The individual replied “white trout.” A subsequent fisheries inspection revealed four grossly undersized spotted seatrout. The individual was issued a notice to appear citation.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
While patrolling Blackwater State Forest, Officer Hutchinson and Investigator Hughes inspected several primitive campsites. During these inspections, they observed alcohol and illegal drug violations. They made several arrests for possession of illegal drugs, including a felony arrest for possession of methamphetamine, and issued citations for possession of alcoholic beverages in posted areas. The officers also made contact with and identified a subject who had multiple warrants for his arrest from Escambia County. They subject was placed under arrest and booked into the Santa Rosa County Jail.
While off duty, Officer Hutchinson observed a woman parked near a creek and retrieve a large plastic box from the trunk of her car and walk towards the water’s edge. He observed the woman then dump several large goldfish into the creek. As she left the area, the officer was able to get her vehicle’s tag information. He walked to the creek and discovered six goldfish swimming in the creek where the woman had dumped them. The goldfish were approximately 8 to 10 inches in length and had large sores on them. He was able to catch one of the goldfish but was unable to catch the other five. The following day, Officer Hutchinson made contact with the woman and interviewed her. She admitted to dumping the goldfish into the creek because she didn’t want them anymore. He contacted Captive Wildlife Investigator Wilkerson who helped him properly identify the fish as comet goldfish which are not native to Florida. The female subject was issued a citation for releasing a non-native species into Florida waters without a permit.
Lieutenant Keen and Officer Brady were conducting offshore patrols when they checked a vessel that had eleven red snapper onboard. Initially, the captain said he didn’t realize he was in federal waters (15 miles offshore), but later admitted to knowing his location. The captain of the vessel was cited for the violation.
Officer Gore was contacted by Officer Goodwin concerning an oyster vessel that he was surveilling returning to a dock located behind a residence. Officer Gore went to the location and observed a subject sitting in the “doghouse” of the vessel smoking something out of a glass pipe. As Officer Gore approached, the subject quickly tried to hide the pipe. When asked for the pipe, the subject threw it overboard. The subject was handcuffed and the pipe recovered. Officers Alsobrooks and Hellet arrived to assist. Follow-up found an empty baggie containing residue that field tested positive for methamphetamine located on the deck of the boat where the subject was sitting and also a pipe with cannabis residue. The subject was booked into the Bay County Jail for possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest without violence.
Officer Price conducted successful offshore patrols over the weekend. As he pulled up to one vessel, one subject was de-hooking a legal red snapper and returning it to the waters. A check of the cooler found four red snapper inside. During another stop, he found four red snapper onboard a vessel. And yet another inspection yielded twelve red snapper. Federal citations were issued for possession of red snapper during closed season. Another inspection found a filleted greater amberjack and several short grey triggerfish. When the captain was asked where the filets of the amberjack were, he said that he had eaten them. The amberjack was found to be undersized and a citation was issued.
Officer Price investigated a boating accident involving two personal watercraft (PWC) that were part of a Jet Ski tour group. As the group approached Grand Lagoon’s idle speed zone, one of the PWC ran into the back of another PWC causing one passenger to be injured. A citation was issued after the investigation was concluded.
Officer Brooks positioned a camera in an area on Nokuse Plantation where trespassing was suspected. A photo revealed a subject trespassing on three different days. Patrols were increased in the area and Officers Tison and Letcher observed the subject in the same area. The subject was issued a trespass warning upon the request from the land manager.
Lieutenants Hollinhead and Suggs, Pilot Tolbert, and Officers White, Brooks, and Tison searched with deputies from the Walton County Sheriff’s Department for a subject lost in the Choctawhatchee River Swamp near Bruce Creek. During the late afternoon, a subject called 911 to report he was lost which started the search throughout the night and into the following day. The subject had traveled from Texas and launched his kayak at Bruce Creek in hopes of observing and photographing an Ivory Billed Woodpecker. The subject became lost when he exited his kayak on foot to walk through the swamp. FWC Pilot Tolbert assisted from the air with the search while FWC vessels searched by water. The subject was located later in the afternoon in a wooded area and treated for dehydration.
MAJOR WILDLIFE ASSISTANCE
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
While patrolling in Blackwater State Forest, Officer Hutchinson and Investigator Hughes located a gopher tortoise digging a burrow in the middle of a heavily traveled dirt road. It appeared that the tortoise was preparing to lay her eggs in the hole. They relocated the tortoise to a different area where the chance of her and her eggs’ survival were greater.
DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROLS
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
FWC Officers Cushing, Land and Miller, along with NOAA Officer Harewell, patrolled the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico targeting federal fisheries violations aboard the FWC vessel Fincat. The officers conducted fishery inspections on several vessels and found four to be in violation of federal fishery laws. Federal citations were issued for undersized greater amberjack, over the bag limit gray triggerfish and no federal reef fish permit.
Okaloosa and Walton county officers participated in an organized detail to enforce rules and regulations for pompano fishing along the shoreline of Henderson and Grayton Beach State Parks. The detail was organized by Officer White after receiving complaints last year of bag limit violations. Seventy-six people were checked with numerous citations and warnings issued for license violations.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officer Miller assisted with a youth bass fishing tournament. Officer Miller brought his patrol vessel for a display for the attendants and went over boating safety and new regulation in both saltwater and freshwater with both the young bass anglers and their parents. There were approximately 20 vessels entered in the tournament and 40 youth anglers.