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Division of Law Enforcement
December 29, 2017 through January 5, 2017
This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past weeks;
however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement.
Patrol, Protect, Preserve
Officer Letcher stopped a vehicle after observing it being operated in a careless manner nearly causing an accident. The driver displayed signs of being impaired and admitted to consuming alcohol. Field sobriety exercises revealed the driver was too impaired to be operating a vehicle due to being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The subject was placed under arrest and transported to the Bay County Jail where they agreed to provide a breath sample to determine their breath alcohol content. The breath sample documented was .220, nearly three times the legal limit. The subject was booked into jail and charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Officer Hayes received a call from a landowner who heard a rifle shot from the roadway near his residence. The landowner also heard a vehicle speed away from the location. Officer Hayes responded and searched the area for any shell casings or evidence that a deer had been shot. Unable to locate any evidence, Officer Hayes concealed his patrol vehicle and conducted surveillance over two nearby farm fields. Approximately three hours later, a truck drove by slowly shining the fields with a spotlight. Officer Hayes conducted a traffic stop and found the driver to be in possession of a loaded 12-gauge shotgun. The suspect was charged with night hunting. The firearm and light were seized as evidence.
Officer Cushing observed a vehicle being operated without any lights on and initiated a traffic stop to address the safety concern. While behind the vehicle with emergency lights on, the passenger was observed discarding several small items out of the passenger window while the vehicle was moving. When the vehicle was stopped, several indicators that the passenger and the operator may be under the influence were observed. Neither subject had any form of identification nor did the operator have a valid driver’s license. Additionally, the tag was not assigned to the vehicle. Pensacola Police Department (PPD) arrived on scene to assist and the PPD K-9 unit alerted on the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle was found to be in possession of illegal narcotics and the case was turned over to PPD.
Officer Corbin was requested by the U.S. Coast Guard for assistance in identifying the vessel owner of an abandoned anchored boat. The boat was anchored in the North Channel causing a navigational hazard in Destin. The officer determined ownership and contacted the owner. The owner explained he was towing the vessel to Navarre to dock at a private wet slip when the towing vessel ran out of gas. The towed vessel, after the owner anchored it, sank. Officer Corbin met with the vessel owner and cited him for failure to transfer title and issued a derelict vessel citation.
Officer Corbin was conducting boating safety and resource protection at Marler Park when he observed a vessel returning to the boat ramp from a fishing trip. During a resource inspection, one of the five individuals provided an expired license. Through a routine criminal history check, the Tallahassee Regional Communication Center determined the individual had a warrant issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The individual was arrested and transported to the Okaloosa County Jail where the intake process was completed.
Officer Corbin investigated a boating accident with injuries that occurred in June 2017. The accident involved one occupant on a personal watercraft that struck a private dock in Fort Walton Beach. The operator was transferred to a local hospital for a fractured lower leg. A medical blood draw sample legally checked revealed a BAX of 0.230, almost 3 times over the legal limit. A warrant was obtained and the operator was arrested and transported to the Okaloosa County Jail.
Officer Nichols responded to a bear complaint in a Fort Walton Beach neighborhood. The officer observed several garbage cans knocked over with the white household garbage bags pulled out and torn open. Officer Nichols made contact with one of the homeowners who failed to secure their garbage can. The homeowner was provided an educational brochure of the laws and rules in securing attractant and methods of how to secure the garbage can and issued a non-compliance notification letter.
Officers Trueblood and Rockwell responded to a call regarding suspected illegal camping in the Blackwater Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The officers made contact with three subjects in a creek-side camp where they had illegally accessed the campsite via a closed road. While addressing the violation, deputies from Escambia County, Alabama, arrived to question the same three subjects about multiple burglaries and thefts. The two FWC officers and Alabama deputies found more than $10,000 in reported stolen property out of Alabama. The Alabama deputies used these findings to obtain an arrest warrant on one of the men. Several days later, an Escambia County, Alabama, deputy attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the man who now had six felony warrants. The subject fled from the Alabama deputy and crossed the state line into Blackwater WMA where he bailed out of his truck and ran into the forest. Okaloosa Correctional Institute (OCI) K-9 team arrived and deployed their man-tracking team, with Officer Ramos and an Okaloosa County deputy. Lieutenant Hahr, and Officers Jernigan, Wilkenson, Lugg, and Roberson joined the effort and set up checkpoints in the surrounding area in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Office. The joint OCI K-9 team tracked the subject for more than five miles through the forest before turning the track over to the Santa Rosa County Corrections K-9 team. Officer Cushing joined the K-9 team on the foot chase and they tracked the suspect for several more miles before the suspect was taken into custody without incident. The suspect’s apprehension was an example of cooperative law enforcement work between FWC, Escambia County, Alabama Sheriff’s Office, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, OCI K 9 team and the Santa Rosa County Corrections K-9 team.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY
Officer Hutchinson was patrolling late one night when he observed a truck moving slowly in an area known for night hunting. He observed the driver shine a spotlight along the edge of a field in an attempt to disclose the presence of deer. When Officer Hutchison attempted to stop the truck, the driver did not stop immediately and he was observed throwing an object out of the window of the vehicle. Once the operator stopped, a muzzleloader rifle with a flashlight taped to the stock was located inside the vehicle. A Santa Rosa County Deputy arrived to assist and located a bag containing methamphetamine and glass pipes where the subject threw it out the window. The subject was a convicted felon and had a suspended driver license. Additionally, blood from a recently killed deer was found in the bed of the truck and it was determined that the man had killed an illegal buck a few days earlier. The subject was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, attempting to take deer at night, driving on a suspended license and possession of an illegally taken deer.
Officer Jones responded to the Escribano Point WMA at the request of a FWC biologist who had encountered subjects removing a Jeep from a wetland within the management area in an area where public entry by vehicles is prohibited. An investigation revealed that the driver had driven around a locked gate and proceeded into the area. He drove across a small bridge that was not intended for vehicles which resulted in considerable damage to the bridge. After driving throughout the area, he then drove across a creek and through a wetland for approximately a mile causing considerable damage to the land, trees, and plants. Charges are being prepared for two counts of destruction of state lands by a motor vehicle.
Officer Jones received a complaint from a Santa Rosa County marina owner that he was ordering off his property a sailboat, its owner and other associated persons. The officer arrived the following morning to find that the boat was tied to a piling near the marina as well as to structures of the marina. A patron of the marina pointed to a small dingy boat that was tied alongside of the sailboat. The patron said that the dingy was the property of the marina owner. A man and a woman were on board the vessel. After watching the boat and the area, the officer observed the female occupant of the sailboat proceed in the dingy to shore at a nearby park. It was confirmed that the dingy was recently stolen. The woman was charged with theft, operating a vessel with no personal flotation devices and operating a vessel with no registration.
Officer Wilkenson and Investigator Hughes responded to a complaint of individuals harvesting juvenile stone crabs at the Bob Sikes Fishing Bridge. Based on the description provided by the complainant, the officers located the individuals quickly. The individuals were actively fishing with rods and reels. In plain view, a bucket that contained several juvenile whole-body stone crabs was observed. It was determined the individuals were using the stone crabs as bait. There was a total of 14 whole body stone crabs in the individuals’ possession. The subjects were cited for possession of whole stone crabs and undersized stone claws. The officers released the stone crabs alive.
Officer Nelson and Lieutenant Marlow were working a detail in the Apalachicola National Forest and observed a vehicle displaying a spotlight out the passenger window. They stopped the vehicle and spoke to the occupants who admitted to looking for deer. They were in possession of two loaded firearms. The occupants were issued citations for the violations.
Officer Nichols was on land patrol conducting hunting license/permit/game compliance on Eglin WMA. The officer stopped a vehicle that entered the Choctaw East hunting unit. The driver did not have the required Eglin Recreational User permit to access Eglin. A criminal history check on the driver confirmed that the driver had a warrant from Sarasota County for failure to pay child support. Investigator Armstrong arrived on scene to assist. The driver was arrested and transported to the Walton County Jail.