Tuesday, July 18, 2017

FWC Division of Law Enforcement Weekly Report July 7, 2017 through July 13, 2017

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
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FWC
Division of Law Enforcement
FWC logo and law enforcement badge
Weekly Report
July 7, 2017 through July 13, 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

NORTHWEST REGION

HOLMES COUNTY

Environmental Investigator Brown, while off duty, received a call from a Commander of a local Sheriff’s Department. His deputy was out on a traffic stop in a remote part of the county with a fuel tanker suspected of dumping waste fuel. The deputy had not made an environmental stop before and needed guidance. Investigator Brown provided the deputy with advice and instruction on interviewing the driver, collecting commercial documentation, evidence, miscellaneous considerations, and relative charges. Based on this guidance, the deputy obtained the necessary probable cause and made the charge. Investigator Brown later made the necessary contacts with the Department of Environmental Protection, went to the scene, and helped to get the site assessed for any possible cleanup required. Further investigation revealed that the tanker was on the way for repairs to the trailer. The driver admitted to intentionally discharging an estimated volume of 3-15 gallons of fuel to facilitate the repairs.

CASES

BAY COUNTY

Officers Hellett and Alsobrooks were on water patrol near the DuPont Bridge and saw three subjects fishing in a vessel under the bridge. They conducted a resource inspection on the vessel and the subjects were in possession of 29 juvenile red snapper. All three subjects were issued citations for over the bag limit of red snapper and issued written warnings for the undersized violation.

Officers Lipford and Hayes were conducting patrols in Grand Lagoon when they saw a vessel with four people on board violating the posted wake zone. During an inspection of the vessel, it was determined that the operator was impaired and no one on board was over the age of 21. During the field sobriety test, the operator showed multiple signs of impairment. He was placed under arrest for BUI. During the BUI investigation, one of the passengers continually interfered with the investigation and was also placed under arrest. During the arrest, he began to resist and fought with the officers. At the Bay County Jail, the operator refused to provide a breath sample and was charged with BUI, refusal to submit a breath sample, and possession of alcohol under 21 years of age. The passenger was arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence, possession of alcohol under 21 years of age and interference with an FWC officer.

Officers Basford and Hayes were conducting patrols in Grand Lagoon when they saw a vessel violating the posted idle speed zone. During the stop for the violation, they discovered that the vessel had been fishing for the day. While conducting a resource inspection, the operator of the vessel showed the officers several fish in their fish box. During an inspection of a second cooler that contained mostly bait, the officers found two plastic bags containing fish fillets. The fillets were determined to be gag grouper and gray triggerfish. The operator was issued citations for gag grouper and gray triggerfish not landed in whole condition and possession of gray triggerfish during closure.

Officer Basford was on patrol at Bay Point Marina in plain clothes when he saw a large vessel returning to the dock. After the vessel was secured at the dock, he saw six individuals begin to remove personal gear and fishing gear from the vessel. After a few minutes, he saw an individual come out of the cabin and begin to look up and down the dock. After doing this, the individuals brought two large coolers from inside the cabin of the vessel. Officer Basford walked down the dock and as he approached, he noticed the two coolers contained multiple bags of fish fillets. Officer Leonard arrived to assist and conducted a resource inspection along with Officer Basford. During the inspection, the officers found 211 fish fillets. The fillets consisted of suspected red snapper, gag grouper, red grouper, amberjack, and gray triggerfish. Charges pending will be landing reef fish in other than whole condition, possession of gray triggerfish during closure, and possession of amberjack during closure. Other charges will be pending after analysis of the fillets.

ESCAMBIA COUNTY

Officer Clark saw an individual operating his vessel in a careless manner. The individual had the outboard motor trimmed mostly out of the water revving it up, while several people were standing near the prop. He was attending the Blue Angel Air Show and was attempting to leave the area. Officer Clark stopped the vessel and immediately noticed signs of impairment from the operator. The operator agreed to perform several field sobriety tasks. He performed poorly on these tasks and was arrested for BUI. The operator gave a breath sample of more than double the legal limit. Officer Clark transported the individual to the Escambia County Jail.

Officer Bartlett was on vessel patrol providing public safety enforcement at the Blue Angels Airshow when he encountered a highly‑intoxicated individual. The officer was concerned for the welfare of the individual and brought him to the nearest dock and instructed him to stay on land. Within a few minutes, Officer Bartlett saw the same individual attempting to swim across a vessel channel, barely keeping his head above water, obviously struggling to stay afloat. The officer quickly reacted and rescued the individual. For the welfare of the individual, the officer arrested him for disorderly conduct and transported him to the Escambia County Jail for processing.

Officer Bartlett was on vessel patrol providing public safety enforcement at the Blue Angels Airshow, when he saw a boat being loaded/trailered at the 17th Avenue Boat Ramp. The boat speed was too fast causing it to strike the vehicle. The officer approached the operator who showed signs of impairment and was asked to perform field sobriety tasks. Based on the operation of the vessel and the performance of the tasks, the operator was arrested for BUI. The operator refused to provide a breath sample and was transported to the Escambia County Jail for processing.

LEON COUNTY

Investigator James Bryant responded to assist the Leon County Sheriff’s Office on a complaint regarding illegal dumping of used tires on Sand Drive in Tallahassee. Upon arrival, they discovered 70 used tires which had been dumped along the roadside bordering the Apalachicola National Forest. Information and a photograph was provided about a U-Haul rental truck leaving the scene. The Sheriff’s Office began a search for the vehicle and shortly thereafter, the suspect vehicle was located. Investigator Bryant identified and interviewed the driver who admitted to dumping the tires. The subject was taken into custody and charged with felony commercial dumping over 500 pounds and transported to the Leon County Jail.

OKALOOSA COUNTY

Officer Corbin responded to a boating accident that occurred at Liza Jackson Park. The investigation revealed that a personal watercraft (PWC) struck the pier at the park. The impact ejected the operator, who landed on the pier. The operator was the sole occupant on the PWC. The operator sustained a hematoma to her head and spiral fracture to her tibia and fibula. She was transported to a local hospital for treatment. The accident is still under investigation and charges are pending.

Officers Wilkenson and Corbin responded to a boating accident involving a single vessel in Choctawhatchee Bay near Crab Island. Officer Wilkenson determined the rented personal watercraft (PWC) was traveling at an unknown high rate of speed when it struck a wave. The impact caused the operator’s and passenger’s heads to collide against each other. Both occupants sustained injuries. The passenger was found unconscious, had water in the lungs causing inflammation, and facial bruising. Both were transported to a local hospital for treatment. The passenger was later admitted.

Officer Nichols was patrolling at Henderson Beach State Park when he received a report of a dog locked in a parked car. The officer located the vehicle and saw the dog in the car and the windows were barely cracked. There was no one around the vehicle and the car owner could not be found. This occurred at 4:00 pm and the outside temperature was about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The officer pushed the window down enough to unlock the car. The dog displayed signs of heat exhaustion. While the officer was providing the dog with water, the dog owner returned to the vehicle. The dog owner was issued a notice to appear citation for animal cruelty.

Officer Nichols was patrolling the beach at Henderson Beach State Park when he saw several individuals openly consuming alcoholic beverage. The officer approached the individuals and determined they were all under the age of 21. Five individuals were given a notice to appear citations. One of the individuals provided the officer with a false name to hide his age/identity.

Officer Corbin was on land patrol conducting state fisheries inspections in the Destin Harbor, when he saw an inshore charter vessel displaying on the cleaning table what appeared to be undersized red snapper. The fisheries inspection revealed one grossly undersized red snapper. The owner/operator of the charter boat was cited and issued a notice to appear citation.

SANTA ROSA COUNTY

While on his way home from working the Blue Angels Air Show, Officer Hutchinson saw a truck being driven erratically and almost causing an accident. He stopped the driver and immediately determined that the man was showing signs of impairment. The man’s young son was also in the truck. After field sobriety tasks, Officer Hutchinson determined that the man was under the influence of alcoholic beverages and placed him under arrest for DUI. He later provided a breath sample of .12 g/210L. The man’s son was taken to a family member’s home.

Officer Mullins and Lieutenant Hahr were patrolling at the Blue Angel Air Show when they were requested to respond to assist Fire Rescue with a vessel that was seen operating in a reckless and erratic manner. As they approached the vessel, the officers saw that the sole occupant was covered in fresh blood and had a partially bandaged hand that was dripping blood. The man told the officers that he had gotten a rope burn on his hand. Due to the amount of blood, the officers requested assistance from EMS. While waiting for them to arrive, they saw multiple indicators of impairment. After EMS bandaged the man’s hand properly, Officer Mullins conducted field sobriety tasks and determined that the man was intoxicated. The man was arrested for BUI and later refused to provide a breath sample. After receiving several stiches at the hospital, the man was booked into jail for operating a vessel while normal faculties are impaired.

RESCUES

OKALOOSA COUNTY

Officers Corbin and Wilkenson were on vessel patrol conducting public safety and boating safety enforcement near the Marler Bridge. During a vessel stop, the officers heard people from shore yelling “Lifeguard.” The officers quickly noticed two children being swept away by the swift tidal current, taking them further away from shore. The children were struggling to stay afloat and were not strong enough to swim toward shore. As the officers approached, one of the children went under the water and could not be seen. When the child surfaced, Officer Corbin quickly grabbed and pulled the child on the vessel. The second child was quickly taken aboard the vessel. Neither child was injured, just exhausted. Two Good Samaritans noticed the children and were swimming out to their rescue before the officers arrived on the scene. They were also placed on board the officers’ vessel, and the children were reunited with their parents.

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Officers Greene, Brooks, Baber, Hayes, Walker, Rice and Leonard responded to a search and rescue on Econfina Creek. Eight subjects were lost after tubing down the creek earlier in the day. With help from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Bay County Sheriff’s Aviation Unit, all subjects were located unharmed and taken back to their vehicles.

DIRECTED CONSERVATION PATROLS

ESCAMBIA COUNTY

FWC officers made several fisheries cases this week. Multiple citations were issued for possession of gray triggerfish, possession of undersized red snapper, possession of red snapper not in whole condition and interference with an FWC officer. The interference charge was made when an individual dumped red snapper fillets overboard as the officer approached.

FWC officers took part in the annual Blue Angels Airshow on Pensacola Beach where approximately 500,000 people attended over the three-day period. FWC officers, along with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department, were responsible for waterborne security and all public safety on area waterways during this event. Over the three-day period, FWC law enforcement officers conducted 952 hours of law enforcement patrols, 714 of which were on the water. The officers issued several citations and warnings for boating safety violations, including four BUIs, conducted four boat accident investigations and had numerous public assists and calls for service. At the peak of the event, it was estimated that there were more than 2,500 vessels with over 12,500 people on board, within a ten‑square-mile area along Pensacola Beach.

COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING

OKALOOSA COUNTY

Officers Jarvis and Maltais spoke to a group of Junior Lifeguards at Henderson Beach State Park. The officers discussed water safety and the work that FWC officers do on a routine basis. There were 65 kids and 7 lifeguard instructors in attendance.


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