Division of Law Enforcement
April 21, 2017 through April 27, 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
While checking several fishermen on the Bob Sikes Bridge, Officer Manning noticed fresh blood and large scales on the ground. A nearby fisherman denied knowing anything about it and claimed he had not caught anything. While checking the individual’s cooler, Officer Manning found two large fillets. The individual at first insisted the fillets were from a grouper he bought from a fish market. Officer Manning determined the fillets were from a red drum and located a bloody knife. After additional questioning, the individual admitted to catching and cleaning the red drum. The subject was issued a notice to appear citation for the violation.
While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV)Guardian, Lieutenant Marlow, Officers Boyd and Nelson located a vessel approximately 14 miles south of Carrabelle. After boarding the vessel, Officer Nelson located cut-up red snapper on their bait table and hooks. An interview of the occupants reinforced that they had cut up the red snapper and were using it for bait during the closed season. The violations of possession of red snapper during federal closure, not landing in whole condition and using reef fish for bait were addressed with the appropriate warnings and citations.
While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico aboard the Guardian, Lieutenant Marlow, Officers Matechik and Nelson located a vessel approximately 24 miles south of St. George Island. While approaching the vessel from approximately 3 miles away, they saw the occupants moving it around quickly, turning south and coming on plane. Its original location was marked on radar and after the vessel was stopped, the FWC officers boarded the vessel. The Guardianoperated the vessel's course and located a goliath grouper floating in the prop wash. The 73-inch goliath grouper had large amounts of fillets removed and still had a metal gaff stuck in its mouth. The officers also located three whole gag grouper, three whole red snapper and two gag grouper fllets in the vessel's cooler. The vessel also had evidence of the goliath grouper on board with large bloody drag marks coming from the stern, through the dive door and into the vessel. Large scales consistent with a goliath grouper were also located. When interviewed, the occupants confessed to possession of the goliath grouper and throwing it overboard. The appropriate federal violations and warnings were issued for the offenses.
While patrolling in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico on board the Guardian, Lieutenant Marlow, Officers Boyd and Nelson located a vessel approximately 11 miles south of St. George Island. During the boarding, the officers located two gag grouper in a cooler. The officers addressed the federal violations with the appropriate warnings and citations.
Lieutenants Walsingham, Bartlett, Brooks, Investigators Armstrong, Goss and Officers Brooks, Alsobrooks, Gore, White and Cutchin assisted the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office in a manhunt for a burglary suspect that had fled the scene on foot. The suspect had numerous burglary warrants as well as charges stemming from a previous encounter with Officers Jackson and Brooks when he provided a false name and fled on foot. Through the cooperation and teamwork of numerous agencies, the subject was captured approximately ten miles away.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officer Hutchinson was patrolling near Keyser's Landing and the Escambia River when he observed several men standing beside a truck that was stuck in a mud hole on the edge of the right of way. He approached the men and while speaking with them, he observed fresh tire tracks and deep ruts in front of the truck leading into private property. Officer Hutchinson questioned the men about the damage to the right of way and the private property. Two of the men admitted to purposely mud riding and damaging the property. Officer Hutchinson issued the two men notices to appear for damaging public land with a motor vehicle.
Officers Lewis and Jernigan were patrolling on the beach when they observed a man surf fishing. Officer Lewis asked the man for his fishing license and when he was retrieving it from his wallet, Officer Lewis observed him remove a small baggie containing pills from his wallet and try to conceal it. Inspection of the bag revealed a controlled substance. Another pill was also found in his wallet. The subject voluntarily stated that the pill in the baggie was Sub Oxone. Officer Lewis arrested and charged the subject with two felony counts of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Officer Yates completed an investigation from 2016 involving a bear that was shot in a subject’s yard. The subject stated that the bear was attempting to get his dog, but the investigation revealed that the bear was leaving the area. Lieutenant Walsingham and Officers Brooks, Letcher, and Kinney assisted. Charges have been direct filed with the Walton County state attorney’s office.
Officer Gore was on patrol at Culpepper Landing on Holmes Creek when he observed a vessel with two occupants returning. As it neared, he smelled the odor of burnt cannabis and asked the male to step out of the vessel. He identified the odor was coming from the subject and asked if he had any cannabis and the subject stated “yes.” A search of his person revealed cannabis and methamphetamine. The subject was arrested and transported to the Washington County Jail for the misdemeanor and felony violations.
Officer Gore was at the same location days later and observed another vessel returning to the ramp. It had an expired registration and when he conducted a safety inspection, he observed grass, mud, scales and a cast net in the bottom of the boat. When he asked the two subjects if they had been fishing, they replied that they had. A check revealed 120 bream, 20 over the daily bag limit. Both subjects were issued citations for taking over the daily bag limit of bream, written warnings for possession of an Illegal fishing device (possession of a cast net while in possession of game fish), and the operator was issued a written warning for an expired registration.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Long taught the laws section of a hunter’s education class this week. The class was held at the Molino Community Center in Molino.
Lieutenant Walsingham, Officers Yates and Kinney assisted with a Holmes County 4-H Youth Fishing Day. The 25 elementary-aged children had completed their classroom portion and spent the afternoon on the water fishing. Valuable skills were learned and everyone had fun in the outdoors.
Officers Pifer and Corbin participated in an outreach event called “Construction Junction,” presented by the Community Police Officers of Fort Walton Beach. This is a community event where kids interact with construction equipment, military, and law enforcement vehicles and personnel in a safe environment.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officer Land conducted a youth outreach event at Shoreline Park in Gulf Breeze for approximately 100 students from Gulf Breeze Middle School. Officer Land had an FWC vessel on display and educated students about the role and responsibilities of an FWC officer. He had boating safety items on display and explained the importance of safe boating and answered questions from students regarding boating rules, resource regulations, and public safety concerns.