Division of Law Enforcement
June 30, 2017 through July 6, 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 Sauls and Investigator Cook were on water patrol on the Apalachicola River when a vessel running with no navigation lights headed towards the officers. The officers had to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision. Upon stopping the vessel, they detected a strong odor of alcoholic beverages. There were beer cans all over the deck of the vessel including one in the operator’s hand. The operator was being difficult and could not stand up on the deck. The operator failed the field sobriety tasks and was arrested for operating a vessel while impaired. He was transported to the Franklin County Jail where he refused to submit a breath test and sign any documents.
Officer Bartlett was on vessel patrol in the Crab Island area when he was dispatched to a boating accident. The accident involved two anchored vessels, a 24-foot rented Harris pontoon and a 25‑foot Mako. The officer noted there was a strong outgoing current. The operator of the rental pontoon was positioning the boat attempting to drop anchor. The pontoon drifted due to the strong current and struck the anchored Mako. The officer determined the primary cause of the accident was the operator's inexperience with operating a vessel in waters affected by tidal current. There were no injuries reported in this incident.
Officer Corbin was on vessel patrol conducting boating safety and state fisheries inspections in the Destin Pass/Harbor. The officer saw a known local charter boat returning from the Gulf of Mexico from a fishing trip. The officer conducted a state license and fisheries inspection. The inspection revealed the owner/operator had an expired 10 plus state charter fishing license. The operator was issued a citation for an expired license.
Officers Corbin and Wilkenson were on vessel patrol conducting boating safety and state fisheries inspections in the Destin Pass/Harbor. The officers saw a boat returning from the Gulf of Mexico with rods and reels displayed. The officers stopped the boat and conducted a fisheries inspection. The vessel displayed an out-of-state vessel registration. The inspection revealed three undersized red snapper. The operator was cited and issued a notice to appear citation.
Officers Pifer and Bartlett were on vessel patrol conducting boating safety and state fisheries inspections in the Destin Pass/Harbor. The officers saw a boat returning from the Gulf of Mexico with rods and reels displayed. The officers stopped the boat and conducted a fisheries inspection. The inspection revealed two gray triggerfish, which is currently out of season in both state and federal waters. The operator stated he did not know triggerfish was out of season. The officer saw a current FWC fishing regulation guide on the boat. The operator was cited and issued a notice to appear citation.
Okaloosa County officers participated in Operation Dry Water, a national campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence (BUI). The officers took initiative to educate the boating public of the dangers of boating while impaired. The officers took a zero-tolerance approach. Their efforts resulted in five BUI arrests, 382 vessel inspections, 1,439 public contacts, 24 issued boating safety violations, 28 boating safety written warnings, 16 citations for possession of alcoholic beverage under the age 21 and investigation of 2 boating accidents with injuries. The officers accumulated a total 85 hours of vessel patrol.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officers Lewis and Jernigan were patrolling in the Blackwater State Forest when they saw a truck parked well beyond established barricades at a primitive campsite. The owner of the truck told the officers that he wanted his truck parked in his campsite. The vehicle damaged the trail and creek bank and caused deep ruts along its path. The man was charged with damaging state lands with a motor vehicle.
Officer Ramos was on vessel patrol in the Quiet Water beach area of the Santa Rosa Sound when he saw a pontoon boat with many people on board. After conducting a boating safety inspection on the vessel with 15 passengers, it was determined the boat had been rented from a local livery and the livery did not ensure the occupants had sufficient safety equipment. The livery had only provided 14 adult Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s) on board for the 15 passengers. Eight passengers were children, one of which was a toddler who is required to wear a PFD while the vessel is underway. The livery did not provide any children’s PFD’s with the rental pontoon. Officer Ramos contacted the livery and issued a criminal citation for leasing, hiring, or renting a vessel without the proper safety equipment.
While on late-night vessel patrol in the Intercostal Waterway, Officer Ramos stopped a boat with eight men on board returning from an offshore fishing trip to conduct a boating safety and resource inspection. The boat was a for-hire charter boat and had 14 red snapper in the fish cooler. After determining that only six of the passengers paid for the charter trip, Officer Ramos inquired why there were 14 red snapper in the cooler when the vessel limit was 12. The captain advised that his deckhand kept two fish for himself. Officer Ramos checked the captain’s history and confirmed that he had been previously charged with other fisheries violations and knew that the charter boat crew on a commercial trip cannot keep a recreational limit of red snapper for themselves. The individual was cited accordingly.
Officer Gore was on patrol in the Econfina Wildlife Management Area (WMA) when he saw a spotlight being shined in a manner that can disclose wildlife from a vehicle. Upon conducting a traffic stop, he determined that the three subjects were consuming alcohol and saw a bag of cannabis on the center console. He started identifying the subjects. After providing a name and date of birth, one subject ran. Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies and Lieutenant Walsingham responded to assist. Officer Gore deployed K-9 Kane and tracked the subject for approximately one hour until the track went cold. Methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia were found in the vehicle. The two remaining subjects were arrested and transported to the Washington County Jail for possession of methamphetamine, possession of cannabis less than 20 grams, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The subject who fled was positively identified and determined to have numerous outstanding felony warrants. New warrants will be obtained for resisting an officer without violence and the same charges as the other occupants of the vehicle.