It’s quite unusual to hear of a department giving back unused funds, but the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department does it every year

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been going on in the county.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department recently returned $2.7 million in excess funds that were not spent in the last fiscal year to several Key’s governments.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “One of the most important parts of my job is being fiscally responsible with taxpayer’s money. The sheriff’s office budget is quite large and I do try every year to return money. I can spend my budget down to zero if I want, but my goal every year is to make sure we ensure that we’re spending it, we can justify and I can look someone in the eye and tell them why I bought something. So every year I generally return between 1.5 and 2.5 since I’ve been in office as the sheriff, and this year is about just over 2.7 million that’s going back to our taxpayers to help keep taxes and millage rates down. It’s really, really important to me, and my staff would love to spend this money down. They always want to buy stuff, but I keep telling them, hey, if we can’t justify, we’re not going to buy it. So I’m proud to return that money. And as you said, I’m proud to have perfect audits during my tenure as a sheriff. I’m on my 12th year as sheriff and have had a perfect audit accounting for every single penny of taxpayer’s money since then. I’m very, very proud of my ability to manage budgets and be fiscally responsible.”

Fantasy Fest finished up last week and went quite well.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Fantasy Fest is such a big part of the Keys tradition. Part of our job is to help the city of Key West the best we can, safety, security, keep things flowing. At the same time make sure Halloween trick or treating is safe for kids throughout the county. As I said before, this is always all hands on deck. I bring extra staff out, put them into various communities where the kids are going to be. I, myself, worked that night in uniform to help augment staffing and be out there to support my troops. It was a great Fancy Fest, a great event. Halloween was nice, safe, secure. We had no issues regarding the safety of our children.”

There were 18 people arrested on Fantasy Fest night in the city, mostly for drunk and disorderly conduct, fighting or indecent exposure.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “One guy who decided he wanted to jump on the hood of a brand new patrol car. We came around a corner to see some 22 year old kid from California jumping up and down on the hood of our car, destroying our car. He sees our deputies and jumps off and tries to run away. We were be able to get a hold of him and arrest him and charge him with that crime too as well. He’s from California. We say hey, maybe in California, you can jump on patrol car hoods. Not here in Monroe.”

A traffic stop last week found a Monroe County Florida man was threatening to kill sheriff’s office deputies and their family members after being charged with DUI, grand theft of a motor vehicle, multiple counts of threatening law enforcement officer and officer’s families, harassing law enforcement canine, possession of marijuana, indecent exposure and resisting arrest.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Minor traffic stop can turn into something really big and really bad and dangerous. This was a minor traffic stop for an individual for speeding. Once we stopped him, he immediately had a really bad attitude. We smelled marijuana coming out of the car. The car was a rental car from out of state, which subsequently was reported stolen, not returned and wasn’t allowed to leave the state. The person was drunk, extremely intoxicated. So we have a lot of bad things going for this guy, tried to give him roadside sobriety tests. He was non compliant. He was very aggressive, abusive. We had to call in backup officers. He threatened to shoot and kill my officers, no less than 300 times, all on body cam video. Every officer showed up. He was threatening our lives, threatened the lives of their family, their kids, was going to track them down, going to kill them, told us he had been prior military, had been a sniper, he was going to come up and use a sniper rifle to pick off police officers and their families. Just so violent, so aggressive, we did wind up charging him, obviously with these threats on law enforcement officers and because his threats were so violent, I also went ahead and filed for risk protection order to the courts for him to put additional penalties on him or controls, that he’s now not allowed to possess, or purchase a weapon, as long as the risk protection orders in place. That’s exactly what these are designed for. These are red flag laws. They’re not designed to take people’s rights away to own and carry guns. But they’re designed to temporarily restrict somebody from owning, possessing or buying a gun until they can determine their mental status, their safety to other citizens. When you make threats upon people, and threaten to kill people, you shouldn’t be allowed to have those guns until your situation is resolved. We’re not going to tolerate threats against citizens and I’m sure as heck not going to tolerate threats against my men or women doing a very difficult, challenging job. So he went to jail on multiple charges and he’s going to have to pay for his actions.

A 37-year-old Marathon Florida man was arrested Friday for discharging a firearm. He threatened to shoot a resident, he tried to get away on a bicycle. He was under the influence of alcohol and charged with resisting arrest, fleeing and eluding, assault, DUI.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We see people with alcohol make poor decisions and when some people who drink become more passive and Teddy Bears, some people who drink become more angry and violent. This was the latter of the two, who had made threats to do bodily harm, trying to flee on a bicycle. Can’t get too far on a bicycle. He refused to comply with commands to stop, lights, sirens, orders. He did become violent. They did have to deploy a taser on him to subdue him and secure him. Tasers are not designed to hurt people, but they are designed to stop the violence, stop the threat. Tasers are designed to protect their officers, but also protect the people who are violent towards us. It stops the fight. We don’t want to see who’s the baddest guy on the block. We don’t want to hurt people. We don’t want to knock people’s teeth out. But we sure don’t want our people to get hurt either. So these are measures that are called intermediate weapons to stop the act of violence because we don’t have to go to hands on or to a firearm because we don’t want to have to go to that level of deadly force. Nor do we want to see who’s the baddest guy in the block on a fistfight. So that’s why we use these intermediate weapons all the time. We use them because we have to, not because we want to, so we’re able to de escalate the situation and get him under arrest.”

Another traffic stop found 7.4 grams of methamphetamine and small amounts of marijuana pipes. A Bradenton, Florida man was arrested Friday for drug related violations.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We continue to talk about traffic stops, why they’re so important. First off, we say they’re the number one call we get is traffic related, speeding, reckless driving, impaired driving, improper passing. So we are doing our job to enforce traffic laws to keep the roads safe on the highway. But traffic stops do result in so many other stuff, warrants. In this case, a person with drugs in the vehicle. Our goal continues to be to try to keep our roads safe, but also continue to do our efforts to the battle against the war on drugs, which is a difficult, challenging war. The United States government has not been able to win that battle and the sheriff’s office can only try to keep doing our part. But again, the battle against the possession, use of drugs is going to be something for a long time down the road.”