The Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office Auxiliary Deputy Sheriff Unit supports the Sheriff's Office in both operational and administrative functions. With the assistance of the Auxiliary Deputy Sheriff Unit, the Sheriff's Office is able to maximize the availability of our deputies to the community. The unit is comprised of non-paid volunteer citizens from Okeechobee County. Auxiliary Deputy Sheriffs have the unique opportunity to participate in the working relationship between local law enforcement and the community while assisting deputies with their routine duties and special events throughout Okeechobee County.
On July 17, 2014, three members of the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office Auxiliary Unit were promoted. Keith Pearce has been with the OCSO unit since 8/29/90, and was promoted to the rank of Captain.
Jason Egger has been with the OCSO unit since 6/11/07 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.
Crispin Bottari has been with the OCSO unit since 6/11/07 and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.
Sheriff Paul May said of the promotions, "We thank these gentlemen for the contributions to Okeechobee County and our department. They and the other auxiliary officers risk their lives for no pay, they do it just for the satisfaction of helping their community and their fellow officers. It don't get any better than that!"
Congratulations to all of you!
Marijuana Grow House Arrest
On July 17, 2014, Detective Scott Morgan arrested Jose Rodriguez, DOB: 8/1/62, for Cultivation of Marijuana, Trafficking in Marijuana, Theft of Electric-Grand Theft, Ownership of Property for the Purpose of Manufacturing a Controlled Substance and for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
On the above date members of the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office and Narcotics Task Force executed a search warrant at 22020 NW 264 Street. The search warrant was signed by the Honorable Judge Sweet on the same day. During the execution of the search warrant, Rodriguez was present at the residence.
The following items were located inside the residence: Thirteen (13) growing marijuana plants with active root systems that weighed approximately 38.10 pounds. The plants were approximately 4 feet tall. The approximate value of the marijuana is $114,000.00; large black plant buckets, timers, capacitors, breakers, AC chiller, 1000 watt bulbs with aluminum housing and ballasts. Two (2) Ziploc bags each containing approximately ½ ounce of marijuana; a calendar with a list of the chemicals needed to grow the marijuana plants. It also contained numbers that coincided with the marijuana grow and what stage the plants were in; a shoe box that contained well over $10,000.00 in U.S. currency; and a plastic bag that contained marijuana trimmings.
Rodriguez-Hernandez was transported to the Okeechobee County Jail. Bond is to be set at first appearance.
Sheriff Paul C. May said of the raid, "The Drug Task Force has been successful again. We will continue to rid our county of these growhouses. When you're in this type of business you never know when we will pay you a visit. But rest assured, we will."
As always, the nature of the probable cause to obtain the search warrant is privileged information and will not be released.
The Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office, along with Okeechobee City Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol will be conducting a DUI/Drivers License Checkpoint on Thursday, July 24, 2014. The checkpoint will be set up on Highway 441 South, Okeechobee, Florida.
DUI checkpoints are a proven enforcement tool effective in reducing the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol involved crashes. Research shows that crashes involving alcohol drop by an average of (20) percent when well-publicized checkpoints are conducted often enough.
Deputies will be contacting drivers passing through the checkpoint and looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment. Deputies will also check drivers for proper licensing and will strive to delay motorists only momentarily. Drivers caught driving impaired can expect jail, license suspension, and insurance increases, as well as fines, fees, DUI classes and other expenses that can exceed $10,000.
If you're going to drink...
Designate a driver
Call a cab
Call a friend or family member
DUI Takes Its Toll...
A decision by the Supreme Court requires Law Enforcement to publicize DUI checkpoints. While it is widely argued that DUI Roadblocks / Sobriety Checkpoints are violations of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution (being stopped without probable cause or a search warrant), they are in fact legal in the United States and specifically in Florida ((483 So.2d 433 (Fla. 1985). Because of this, Law enforcement agencies in the state of Florida established guidelines to notify the public that a sobriety checkpoint will be conducted in specific locations at certain times.
Their legality was established by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz (1990). While the Supreme Court acknowledged that DUI Roadblocks infringe on a constitutional right, Chief Justice Rehnquist argued that the state interest in reducing Driving Under the Influence outweighed the infringement, and that Sobriety Checkpoints were in fact effective and necessary. Upon notifying the public of a sobriety check point location and time, this helps to fulfill the obligation "of being stopped without probable cause or having a search warrant". This notification is usually completed by means of advertisement to a local newspaper, however can also be accomplished by means of a radio broadcast or internet social media correspondence such as Facebook.
Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office does not make the laws, we just enforce them
During the week of July 7, thru July 11, 2014, the Faith Academy Preschool hosted Community Helper Week.
Community Helpers visit the children and give tips about being safe, Smokey the Bear fire safety, nursing, dental and health.
Several members of the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office were helpers and spoke with the children to include Stranger Danger and Bicycle Safety. One of the cool things they were able to do was sit on Deputy Rogers' motorcycle. They were also able to meet Deputy K-9 Barco and learn what he does as a drug/apprehension canine.
Ms. Sylvia of Faith Academy stated, "The children at Faith Academy Preschool have enjoyed Community Helpers Week. They especially enjoyed a visit from the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office. The officers discussed the importance of safety in a vehicle and bicycle safety."
Undersheriff Noel Stephen stated, "I am proud that our officers take the time to share with others to look out for the wellbeing of our number one asset...our children. Thank you to Ms. Sylvia for requesting our presence to provide this service. If we can avoid just one of these children falling victim to one of these situations then it was well worth the time and effort."
Grassroots Coalition Launches to Educate on Dangers of Marijuana
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (June 10, 2014) – Today, members of the Don't Let Florida Go to Pot coalition convened in Tallahassee to announce their efforts to educate Floridians on the dangers of marijuana and how the proposed Amendment 2 can impact the state's communities. This coalition includes more than 100 partners and organizations who represent medical, drug abuse and law enforcement interests across the state.
"The legalization of marijuana in Florida is a very important issue to Florida's law enforcement, and the Florida Sheriffs Association supports the efforts of the Don't Let Florida Go to Pot coalition," said Steve Casey, Executive Director of the Florida Sheriffs Association. "Educating our citizens to the dangers of illegal drugs such as marijuana is a high priority."
The coalition warns that legalizing marijuana, which has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, is a dangerous decision for our state and its citizens. The proposed amendment is filled with loopholes that would allow doctors to authorize use of marijuana for virtually any reason with little regulation, which has the potential to harm families and diminish the quality of life throughout Florida.
The coalition has three particular concerns:
• The amendment provides no age restrictions, which will allow youth to easily obtain marijuana without parental consent. Amendment language requires confidentiality of all qualifying patients, which may trump parents' right to notice and consent. Studies have shown that youth who used marijuana before the age of 18, and continued using the drug, experienced as much as an 8 point drop in their IQ over a period of time.
• The caregivers described in the amendment are not required to have any background checks, training or certifications. This is a loophole that would open the door to abuse, allowing addicts, drug dealers, and convicted felons to become 'caregivers.'
• The amendment will undo recent efforts to combat the recent prescription pill epidemic. Law enforcement and Florida legislators have worked tirelessly to rid our state of pill mills and stop the abuse of powerful prescription drugs. Legalizing marijuana opens the door to replacing these pill mills with pot shops.
"Amendment 2 is a misleading, well thought-out fraud," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. "The amendment does not require a doctor's prescription, rather only a recommendation. There is a loophole big enough to float a battleship through that will allow anyone in Florida to obtain pot for any reason -- making it nearly impossible for law enforcement to hold dealers and pot shop doctors accountable."
The Don't Let Florida Go to Pot coalition believes any legalization of marijuana will adversely impact our state and its citizens. To learn more about this issue and the Don't Let Florida Go to Pot coalition, please visit www.dontletflgotopot.com.
The Florida Sheriffs Association is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation made up of Florida's Sheriffs, approximately 3,500 business leaders and 70,000 citizens throughout the state. Founded in 1893, FSA has quietly served the citizens of Florida by supporting the needs of the state's law-enforcement community. Through the Florida Sheriffs Association, Sheriffs are given a forum to address lawmakers to push for positive changes in Florida's public safety arena. FSA also provides Sheriffs' Offices much-needed programs such as affordable training, special task forces and legislative and legal services. Dedicated to the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the development of lawful, productive citizens, FSA has established and continues to support the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, which manages facilities and programs throughout the state to help restore hope, fulfill dreams, and prepare boys and girls for the future. The Florida Sheriffs Association has grown to be one of the largest and most successful state law enforcement associations in the nation. For more information on the Florida Sheriffs Association, visit www.flsheriffs.org.
Voices of the Coalition
"As someone who has seen the effects that can come from substance abuse and understands addictive qualities of marijuana, Amendment 2 creates a system that will ultimately lead to drug abuse. There are proven alternatives to smoked marijuana that effectively deliver THC or CBD to people who truly can benefit from it -- and eliminate the individuals who are attempting to use it for a high."
-Kent Runyon, Director, Novus Medical Detox Center
"We do not allow convicted felons to own or possess firearms, but under the proposed amendment they would be allowed to purchase and distribute marijuana to up to five people. So in addition to no age restriction or parental consent, this amendment would also allow those with criminal and substance abuse backgrounds to legally obtain and redistribute marijuana. Once you add in the unethical doctors that will come in to profit from this, it will mean anyone and everyone will be able to obtain and smoke marijuana legally."
-Calvina Fay, Executive Director, Drug Free America
"In one of the last conversations I had with my son, he shared with me that his addiction to prescription pills came from his use of marijuana. He told me that the only reason he began taking prescription pills was to maintain the high he got from smoking marijuana."
-Karen Bailey, mother of a child who died from a drug overdose
"The more people see past the virulent pro-pot propaganda, the more they understand how bad this amendment will be for Florida. The real effect of medical marijuana in Florida will be to jeopardize the safety and drug-free future of our most precious resource – our youth."
-Bruce Grant, Chairman – Leon County Responsible Decision Making Coalition
"As a mother, I do not want to see Florida go down the same path it did with pill mills and have pot docs dispensing drugs next to my children's school. And, as a medical practitioner, I know I will not recommend pot to my patients for any purpose, nor do I know of any credible, responsible medical doctor that will. Before heading to the polls, I encourage all Floridians to take a closer look at the loopholes contained in Amendment 2 because my first duty is to 'do no harm,' and I truly believe these loopholes will only bring harm to our great state and our fellow Floridians."
-Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos