Keeping residents and visitors safe is a top priority for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office

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 Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride over the weekend was made safe by the participating law enforcement agencies.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “It’s such a rewarding day to be out there with these wounded warriors, spend time with them, protect them, make sure they’re safe and secure. We met at the VFW in Key Largo at eight o’clock in the morning. The veterans had just arrived, I had a chance to spend time with them, talk to them, thank them for the services. I lead my team members there to make sure we escort them, my four motor officers marked units. Our job is to make sure we keep them safe and secure and keep traffic flowing at the same time, which just challenging. The event started at 8:30. We rode from there to Coral Shores High School for a break where a lot of citizens were staged to meet, shake hands, talk to the veterans. That was a good time there. Then we took the old road up through Islamorada to have the least impact on the highway traffic. Then the warriors went to Marathon where they were at the fire station in Marathon. They had lunch there, a beautiful lunch, got a chance to talk with the warriors, spend time with them. Then the warriors left the Marathon fire station, rode southbound across the Seven Mile Bridge to Veterans Park where they had a chance to spend time in Veterans Park, get in the water. Really, really great day. Then we continued to safely protect them all the way down to Key West. Then down there they were escorted and taken care of by our friends at Key West Police who do such a great job. So very rewarding. Every year we get a chance to interact with these warriors. This is year 19 that have been successful, that no one’s gotten hurt or injured on our watch, that were from anything that was in our control. That’s awesome.”

The Celtic festival was also a big festival this past weekend.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “That’s part of our job is dealing with events and traffic and flows and escorts and details and the Keys has so many events going on between the runs and rides and festivals and all this stuff. It does take manpower to either control the traffic or cross pedestrians or make sure the events are safe and secure. So there is a big load on the sheriff’s officers. The Celtic festival Saturday and Sunday, people who drove through there, we had a tent set up the middle of the road as a crossing point to keep traffic flowing to cross people in packs and group and tried to have the least impact on the flow of traffic, but yet make sure that people are safe and secure, who are crossing. So it worked out well. It was a good day. We have also security detachments inside the festival. We generally have about two officers in something that big to make sure that we’re dealing anybody who may be fighting or disorderly or maybe drinking related issues, that we have enough staff to de escalate and if need be, remove, escort people out of their location. So these are always comprehensive, especially when alcohol is involved. Alcohol influence decisions we know are problematic at times. But it was a safe event, the sheriff’s office staff did a great job. I appreciate all the work they do all the time. This case here was another successful event for the Sheriff’s Office. Our job every day is mission oriented.”

It looks like FDOT may be taking a serious look at the construction site at Cudjoe Key since a life was lost there.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “It was a sad crash we talked about in the past. I’m thankful that FDOT came down and spoke with myself and Commissioner Lincoln. We asked for several things to be implemented. They did some of them, so I give them credit. They didn’t do everything I wanted, but that’s okay. It’s talking about mitigation. They put in more signage, which is nice. They’ve put in more of the barrel barricades, which are reflective, so you can see that something’s coming up and be better, clearer about the lane shift. They have agreed to reduce the speed limit from 45 to 35 in a construction zone, to make it a little bit safer, give people a little more time to react. If there is a crash, obviously, reduce speed limits will have a positive impact on the least likelihood of getting severe injuries, instead of two cars hitting at 45, two cars hitting at 35 will do substantially less damage if it happens. We hope it doesn’t. So we were glad to see some positive changes. That’s going to be a year and a half long project in that area. So we just have to try to be prepared to make it as safe as it can be, yet trying to keep traffic still flowing. We don’t want to clog traffic. For every action, there’s a reaction and we’re trying to find a middle ground to make it safe, yet still flow traffic.”

A 26-year-old man from Greensboro, North Carolina was arrested for fleeing police recently, going 78 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Stupid behavior does not usually yield good results. In this case here, this young man, 26 year old man from North Carolina, so he’s on a road system that you’re not really super familiar with, 8:30 at night when it’s dark. You’re in a 35 mile an hour zone yet you want to drive 78 miles an hour. So in this case here, you should be thinking that you’re going to be drawing attention to yourself. And he did draw attention to himself. My deputies clocked him at 78 in a 35 at the 29.5 mile marker. We tried to catch up to him. We then tried to stop him with our lights and sirens. He continued to flee and then make an abrupt evasive maneuvers off of US 1 off the side streets. Some point time for a short period of time we lost him on the side streets. We have to be careful that we don’t want to hurt anybody through neighborhoods as these cars are flying trying to flee from us. So we have to have some control ourselves. We set up a quasi perimeter. We knew we had him contained in a neighborhood. We eventually found the car parked, blacked out, the driver sitting behind the wheel. We’re able to locate him, verify that was the car that we’d been chasing, identify the driver and ultimately we did arrest him for felony fleeing and eluding. We did cite him for the speed and did tow his car. So our road system makes it a lot easier than most areas to either stop a car with stinger spikes or in this case locate a car because there’s only one road. While that can be good, it can also be bad as we know if there’s a crash and we can’t move traffic to alternate roads. But here it helped out to get a violator who was already driving aggressive and was going to hurt somebody if we didn’t stop them, and we did, so, we hold him accountable, put him in jail, spends the night in the Rick Ramsey Bed and Breakfast and we’ll see what happens to that case.”

A 28-year-old Key West man has been charged with a variety of drug charges after a recent traffic stop.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We keep talking about people who aren’t the smartest, when you have a bunch of drugs in your car, you probably should not be speeding, drawing attention to yourself, you ought to be just driving the normal speed limit and follow rules and regulations. But here’s the guy who’s not the smartest. This is a 28 year old male out of Key West who was traveling on US 1 through the Marathon area, a 35 mile an hour zone. He was traveling at 58 miles an hour. That area we patrol very heavily. We clocked him and tried to stop them and eventually got him stopped. When we got to the car, the driver rolled down the window, we could smell a strong odor of marijuana coming out of the window. So we eventually are able to determine there’s narcotics in the car. A subsequent search of the car yields all kinds of marijuana products, marijuana gummies and psychedelic mushrooms, chocolate bars, marijuana vape cartridges, scales, baggies, indicative of this person’s more than just a personal use, this person appears to be a drug dealer. When you start talking about having scales and plastic baggies in your car, drug paraphernalia, that this is more than a user, this is a supplier. So we’re able to get ahold of him and stop his speeding before he hurt somebody and then also seize these drugs which were headed for our community, whether it be adults and or children. A lot of time gummi bears are geared towards kids. Chocolate, psychedelic mushrooms, a lot of times drug dealers put stuff like this geared towards kids. Vape pens and marijuana vape cartridges are seeing more young people doing vaping then more adults these days. So it seemed a lot of his product was geared probably for the younger population, whether it be juveniles or young adults, which is even more concerning as you’re trying to get people hooked on drugs. So we’re able to hold them accountable and get all these drugs that were destined for the streets off the streets, arrest him, charge him, tow his car, and keep trying to send a message. We’re just not going to tolerate this and we’re going to be tough and hard on crime.”

The Seafood Festival in Big Pine Key this weekend will have sheriff’s deputies on patrol.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “These events come up, citizens and visitors can always count on the sheriff’s office to be there to make sure that we’re protecting, keeping things safe and secure keeping traffic flowing. So all these events, you’re always going to see us there and my officers are generally, I hope so, happy, friendly and customer service and community relations. We try to instill our officers to be polite, courteous, friendly, as much as we can. Sometimes people push our buttons and aren’t too nice to us and we have to change our demeanor but we generally try to be, I instill to try to be professional. If you say you’re a professional law enforcement officer, act like a professional. Don’t drop down to the level the people that sometimes we have to deal with. But majority people we deal with are just awesome citizens, visitors that are supportive of the sheriff’s office, are friends to us. We have one of the best, strongest relations with our citizens and visitors anywhere. A lot of other places, their relationship with law enforcement isn’t so strong. That’s I think why they fail a lot. Here, we have one of the truest, realistic community policing programs geared towards public relationships, public support and relationships between law enforcement and the community where we know the community and the community knows us. We work together as one big team. So we’re very efficient, very effective, we have incredibly low crime numbers. So much is related to the partnership with our state, local and federal law enforcement. But also with our citizens, I always talk about a three prong approach. The hard working men and women in the sheriff’s office, the relationship with our state, local, federal law enforcement partners, and the relationship with our citizens who are an extension of the sheriff’s office. So I think we’ve got it dialed in better than most. I want to thank you always for giving me opportunities to speak out and talk to our listeners and have that relationship and contact and I want to thank our listeners for spending time each week to hear what’s going on with MCSO and for their constant friendship and support to myself and my team. So thank you all.”