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Division of Law Enforcement
April 14, 2017 through April 20, 2017
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
Officer Hoomes was on land patrol along Gulf Islands National Seashore near Fort Pickens conducting state fisheries inspections when he encountered several people fishing for pompano. He checked one subject who was fishing alone and possessed the daily bag limit of six pompano. Several disturbed areas in the sand were observed near the fisherman’s poles and coolers where fish could possibly have been hidden. Officer Pettey arrived and he and Officer Hoomes uncovered seven more pompano buried in the sand. The fisherman was issued a citation for possession of over the daily bag limit of pompano. All 13 fish were seized as evidence.
Officer Pifer and Investigators Armstrong and Molnar responded to two separate boating accidents with injuries that occurred within an hour of each other. In the first accident, the operator was jumping waves on a PWC in the Gulf of Mexico. While in the air, the operator fell from the PWC and the PWC landed on him. He sustained a compound fracture to his leg below the knee. In the second accident, a female was swimming behind a running outboard engine when the propeller struck her thigh. She sustained a laceration about 12 inches long and 1 inch deep. Both injured parties were transported to a local hospital for treatment. Both cases remain under investigation.
Officers Wilkenson and Bartlett were on vessel patrol conducting boating safety and state fisheries inspections in the Destin Pass area and were dispatched to a complaint of a vessel anchored near the east jetties with individuals on board harvesting/keeping over the bag limit of pompano. When the officers located the vessel, they saw an individual go to the bow and begin counting the number of fish on board. The fisheries inspection revealed the three individuals were in possession of 21 pompano. The bag limit for pompano is six per person. The operator was issued a notice to appear citation.
Officer Corbin was on land patrol conducting a vessel title investigation at a local marina in Fort Walton Beach and saw a vessel owner returning to his vessel docked at the marina. The officer had information that the owner had failed to transfer the vessel title to his name and confirmed from the bill of sale that the vessel was purchased in May 2016. The vessel owner was issued a notice to appear citation for failure to transfer vessel title .
Officers Wilkenson and Bartlett were on vessel patrol conducting boating safety inspections in the Destin Harbor/Pass area and received information concerning a hit and run boating accident. The officers located the vessels and during the investigation, they noticed one of the vessels had no state registration displayed. The officers determined the owner failed to transfer title in his name after purchasing the vessel in 2015. The owner was issued a notice to appear citation.
Officer Wilkenson was on land patrol when he was dispatched to a complaint of a bear getting into a homeowner’s garbage can. When the officer arrived, he saw the garbage can knocked over next to the curb. There was a white household garbage bag removed from the can, torn up with its contents spread out. The garbage can did not have any latches to secure the lid. Officer Wilkenson confirmed that, in June 2016, the homeowner was issued a non-compliance notification letter for failure to secure food attractant from bears. The homeowner was then issued a written warning for failure to secure food attractant and was provided latches for the garbage can lid.
Lieutenant Clark and Bear Biologist Green were on land patrol conducting a follow‑up investigation on bear complaints of an individual feeding bears and a homeowner failing to secure their garbage. While in the area, Lieutenant Clark saw a white household garbage bag torn open with its contents spread out. Lieutenant Clark found an envelope with a name and address among the garbage pile, and the address was directly across from where the garbage pile was located. Lieutenant Clark contacted the homeowner. When he explained to the homeowner about a bear getting into her household garbage, she stated, “The bears don’t bother me.” The homeowner was issued a non-compliance letter notification and was provided with latches to secure her garbage can lid.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officer Lewis received a complaint about vehicles driving on closed roads in Blackwater River State Forest. The officer responded to the area and saw five Jeeps parked on a dirt pile that is a barrier for the closed road where the complaint originated. The officer saw fresh vehicle sign on the closed road and the drivers of the Jeeps all stated they drove on the closed road. Officer Lewis cited all the drivers for operating a vehicle off the established road in a state forest.
Officer Lewis was on patrol in Blackwater River State Forest when he saw a campsite that appeared to have been camped in for a while, with trash and household cleaning items starting to accumulate. Later in the day, he returned and saw a man and woman in the campsite and noticed other minor violations. Officer Lewis discovered that the man had a warrant for violation of probation. He arrested the man for violation of probation and issued him a warning for not having his pets on a leash. The woman cleaned up the campsite and vacated the area.
Officers Lewis and Jernigan were on patrol in Blackwater River State Forest when they saw a vessel approaching a landing. The vessel’s registration had been expired for approximately three years. The operator stated he recently purchased the vessel but could not produce a bill of sale. The woman on board admitted to fishing but did not have a fishing license. Officer Jernigan boarded the vessel to perform a fisheries inspection and saw a small box where the operator was seated. The box resembled a variety that is commonly used to hold drugs and/or paraphernalia with the male subject’s last name on it. Officer Jernigan found small plastic baggies in the box that contained a white powdery residue that appeared to be methamphetamine. The man told the officers the box belonged to him. The officers explained to the male subject that the substance in the baggies tested positive for methamphetamine. Officer Jernigan arrested the man and charged him with possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of drug paraphernalia. He also received a citation for operating a vessel with an expired registration. The woman was cited for fishing without a license.
Officer Corbin was on land patrol conducting a vessel title investigation at a local marina in Baytowne Wharf and saw a federally documented vessel with no state registration display returning to the dock. The officer contacted the operator and asked if the vessel had a state registration. He stated the vessel was documented through the United States Coast Guard (USCG). The officer arranged to meet the owner of the vessel who failed to get a state registration. The owner was issued a notice to appear citation.
Officers Letcher and Tison responded to a capsized vessel in Choctawhatchee Bay with three occupants on board. When they arrived, the occupants had made it safely to shore. The occupants reported the vessel took on water due to the wake of another vessel. The vessel was completely submerged and a boating accident investigation is being conducted.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officers Brooks and J. Rockwell attended an Outdoor Class at Baker High School. The officers displayed a vessel and explained the importance of boating safety. The officers also discussed the core mission as it relates to hunter education and boating safety. There were 22 students in the class.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officer Ramos took part in FWC’s 75th Wildlife Management Area (WMA) anniversary event at Escribano Point WMA. Officer Ramos spoke to a group of stakeholders at the event about his role as an FWC officer.