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Division of Law Enforcement
July 28, 2017 through August 3, 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
Officers Alsobrooks and Hellett responded to a complaint about a vehicle running over a gate and riding around on a private hunting lease. The officers arrived at the scene of the damaged gate and talked with the complainant, who was a leaseholder. He gave them a description of the suspect vehicle and the officers started searching the property. The officers quickly located the vehicle and conducted a stop. The officers also saw one of the passengers throw a beer can from the interior of the vehicle into the woods. The driver admitted to running through the gate with his vehicle because they just wanted to ride through the woods. The driver was cited for damaging the gate and trespass. The subject who threw the beer can into the woods was charged with littering and open container. All the other passengers were issued written warnings for trespassing.
Officer T. Basford was conducting plain-clothes patrols at the Dupont Bridge when he noticed two men fishing. One of the men caught a fish and asked Officer Basford about it. The individual was informed that it was a flounder and needed to be 12 inches to be legal. Officer Basford saw the men for a brief time until they started to pack up and leave the area. As the men were leaving, Officer Palmer stopped the two men to conduct a resource inspection. During the inspection, the men were found to be in possession of undersized flounder, spotted seatrout, red drum, and gray snapper. One of the men took responsibility for the undersized fish and was issued the appropriate citations.
Officer Alsobrooks received a tip about a group of individuals that were possibly poaching alligators on Howards Creek. Officer Alsobrooks proceeded to the area in hopes of finding the suspects’ vehicle and boat trailer. Once at the ramp, he located the truck with the empty trailer. After a short wait from a concealed location, Officer Alsobrooks saw the vehicle back down towards the ramp. He approached the truck/vessel and spoke with three individuals. While speaking with them, the officer noticed blood on the carpet/deck of the vessel. A detailed investigation, with assistance from other officers, revealed nine alligators had been poached within the last 24 hours and an additional subject was involved that was not present. Appropriate charges were issued for the violations.
Officer Pifer was on land patrol conducting saltwater fisheries and license inspections when he contacted an individual fishing from a pier at a county park. Upon inspection, an egg‑bearing blue crab was found in the individual’s bucket. Photographs of the crab were obtained and it was released alive. The individual was cited for possession of an egg‑bearing blue crab.
Officer Pifer was on routine water patrol when he saw a PWC operating in a reckless manner. The operator was seen driving towards another PWC and turning away at the last minute to splash the occupants of the other PWC with water. A vessel stop was conducted during which indicators of impairment were observed and during which the individual stated he had consumed alcohol. Field sobriety tasks were conducted and the individual was placed under arrest for BUI. At the U.S. Coast Guard USCG) Station Destin, the individual refused to provide a breath sample. The individual was charged with operating a vessel with normal faculties impaired, reckless operation of a PWC, and refusal to submit to a breath test.
Officer Maltais and USCG personnel were on vessel patrol in the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) in the Santa Rosa Sound enforcing boating and public safety during the Billy Bowlegs Pirates Festival. The officer saw a rental pontoon with 12 persons on board. A male individual on board shoved a female individual, with whom he was verbally arguing, to the deck of the pontoon. The officer immediately stopped the boat while USCG personnel quickly boarded the vessel. The aggressive male individual was separated from the female and placed in handcuffs. Officer Maltais obtained all pertinent information from the occupants/witnesses. It was later determined the aggressive male had an active warrant out of Okaloosa County. Officer Maltais completed an arrest affidavit for a criminal summons for battery.
Officer Pifer was on land patrol conducting state fisheries and license inspections in the Shalimar area and saw an individual wading at a local boat ramp. The officer waited until the fisherman returned from fishing and conducted a fisheries inspection of the subject’s cooler. The individual was found to be in possession of over the bag limit of red drum (redfish), possession of undersized red drum (redfish), possession of over the bag limit of gray/mangrove snapper and possession of more than one spotted seatrout over 20 inches. The individual was issued notice to appear citations for the resource violations.
Officer Corbin responded to a single vessel boating accident involving a rented personal watercraft (PWC) that occurred in Choctawhatchee Bay near Crab Island. There were two occupants on the PWC. The investigation revealed that the PWC was going at an unknown high rate of speed when it struck a wake causing the operator to lose control, ejecting himself and the passenger on the PWC. The passenger sustained an injured shoulder when she struck the PWC during the fall. The passenger was later transported by ambulance to a local hospital and treated.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officer Hutchinson was pumping gas in his patrol vehicle when a truck pulled up next to him pulling a boat. He asked the driver if he had been fishing and he stated that they had caught some bass in Hurricane Lake. When Officer Hutchinson asked if he could see them, they were hesitant to show him the fish. The subject was in possession of 11 bass, which is over the daily bag limit. The subject was charged with taking over the daily bag limit of black bass.
Lieutenant Hahr was patrolling in the Blackwater State Forest when he saw four subjects around a campfire in a primitive campsite. The subjects were drinking from fountain drink cups and a jug of orange juice was sitting near a cooler. An older man was present, but two young women and one young man appeared to be under the age of 21. The younger man took a bottle of vodka from the cooler and was drinking from the bottle in front of the older man. When Lieutenant Hahr approached the subjects and identified himself, the young women immediately dumped out their drinks. The younger man was 18 years of age and the two young women were 17. Two cannabis cigarettes and an additional container of cannabis was found, which the younger man claimed. The older man was charged with giving alcohol to a person under 21 and the others were charged with possession of alcoholic beverages by a person under 21. The younger man was also charged with possession of not more than 20 grams of cannabis.
Okaloosa and Walton County officers assisted multiple agencies with a joint detail to detect illegal outdoor marijuana grow sites which included an FWC aircraft, pilot and ground crews for both counties. During the three-day multi-agency detail, 65 grow sites were detected with 2,692 plants removed and destroyed, with an approximate value of $5,384,000.
Officers Brady and Rice were conducting offshore patrols in federal waters near the Madison Swanson area, which is closed to the harvest of reef fish. The officers noticed a vessel coming towards their location. After a few minutes, they noticed the vessel come to a stop and several of the passengers begin to fish. The vessel was approximately two miles inside the Madison Swanson area. The officers conducted a resource inspection of the vessel. During the inspection, appropriate federal citations were issued for fishing in the closed area.
COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING
Officer Rice attended the National Night Out event that was held at the Panama City Mall. The event included all the law enforcement agencies and first responders in the surrounding area. The weather was nice and the event was a great success with more than 200 people in attendance. Local news agencies covered the event.