Let’s catch up with Sheriff Rick Ramsay

August 15 – In Monroe County, the Sheriff’s Department is always working to keep the Keys safe.

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM for an update of what’s going on in Monroe County.

The Sheriff’s Department always likes to make sure the back to school time is safe, so officers were out last Wednesday when students and teachers returned to the classroom.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We’re going to keep vigilant to make sure we keep our kids safe.”

Sheriff’s deputies also take a hard stance on crime.

Recently cocaine was discovered in Coconut Mallory Marina in Key West.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “The Keys, this has always been a place for importation of marijuana, cocaine. That has never changed. Obviously it was busier in the heydays of the 80s and 90s.”

Because the Keys are close to the Caribbean, it’s a stop along the trail for narcotics.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Just like we see more migration during the summer when the seas are calmer and smoother, the same thing arises when it’s calmer and smoother you’re more likely to see drug traffickers coming from the Caribbean.”

It’s not uncommon for residents and tourists in the Keys to find drugs on the beaches, in canals or offshore. Sometimes the traffickers get scared of police and toss the narcotics off the boat or they might be transporting the drugs from one boat to another and some could get lost. Occasionally the narcotics are dropped from the air.

This is the second week in a row where 25 kilograms of cocaine was found by someone.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We don’t know how many are out there that never get turned in that people just keep or do something with.”

Each kilo of cocaine weighs about 2.2 pounds and it’s pure cocaine. It has a pretty high value.

The Keys are also seeing a dramatic increase of migrants trying to land in the area. A meeting is scheduled to try to address the issue and how it can be handled.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We can’t stop it at our end on our level. It’s occurring for a lot of reasons. It’s occurring because of the current government’s stance on migration to the southwest border. It’s affecting us, too, with Haiti and Cuba and other nations who believe if you make it here and get processed that one day they’ll be amnesty and they’ll be able to stay.”

Officers are being told that by the migrants – they believe that even if they get sent back to Cuba, the fact that they were documented that they made it here, during amnesty they’ll be able to return and be in the US permanently.

Recent reports of a lightning strike in Cuba allegedly took out one of the refineries and decreased their fuel supplies about 40%. COVID, food shortages and no vaccines in the country make a whole lot of people desperate.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We’re seeing migration almost every, single day. At times we’re seeing three, four different loads of migrants from Cuba and more from Haiti than we’ve ever seen coming in.”

The Haitian boats will contain between 100 and 300 people at a time. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, FWC, Coast Guard and fire and rescue are so overwhelmed with this issue that it’s affecting their daily jobs in the US.

Some of these vessels are sinking in international waters and the deceased are brought into the US where the sheriff’s office and medical examiners are expected to deal with it.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “The medical examiner has kind of taken a stance here that he’s overwhelmed and he doesn’t have the authority. These bodies were found in international waters, were out of his jurisdiction.”

The sheriff’s office is also working on death investigations, trying to contact families, and all the paperwork that goes with that.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We’re taxing our resources just like the medical examiner where we don’t have the legal authority and jurisdiction. Our authority goes out three miles out to the ocean. After that we have no power and authority, but yet we’re death investigations and work for stuff that’s happening in international waters.”

All of this is in addition to a number of these organizations already being short staffed.

A hit and run occurred in Islamorada at a bar called the Whistle Stop recently where a lady behind the wheel of a car got into an argument with a man in the parking lot. She left at high speed and on the way out, she hit a man and didn’t stop.

Deputies eventually found the woman and charged her with hit and run, leaving the scene of an accident with injuries and other related charges.

In Marathon on Wednesday, a 59-year-old woman shot another woman who was delivering groceries to the homeless. The assailant used a bb gun.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “This is sad to see a Good Samaritan who was trying to help others. The victim in this case was going in a wooded area.”

Marathon has a trail where homeless live and the woman brings foods and supplies to the homeless to help them. One of the homeless women said she didn’t want the food, she wanted drugs instead.

The woman explained she didn’t have any drugs, so the woman had a bb gun and shot her three times. She was eventually arrested and is in Monroe County Jail.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “What a shame. When you do try to help people in these areas of woods you shouldn’t be there by yourself. You could become a victim in this case of this shooting with a bb gun or any other type of attack.”

Also in the Upper Keys last Wednesday, a shooting occurred with an intoxicated, suicidal man.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “It goes to show how difficult it is to be a law enforcement officer each and every day, even in the Florida Keys, which is still one of the safest places to live, work and play.”

A woman in Texas called into the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department to say that her boyfriend, who was living in Key Largo was suicidal. He was drinking, they were in the middle of a breakup and were Facetiming where she saw him holding a gun to his head saying he was going to kill himself.

Officers arrived on the scene within four minutes. Within two minutes of arriving on the scene, the man was on the second story porch with a handgun in his hand, waving it around, very agitated. When he was told to put the gun down, he did that, but went back inside the apartment.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We had called him on the phone, trying to get him to talk to us. He told us that he was ready for battle and hung the phone up. Two minutes later, he walked out on the balcony, overlooking four officers who were down below him. He appeared with what’s called an AR10. We generally think about an AR15. An AR10 looks like an AR15, but it’s designed to have a lot larger rounds.”

He pointed the weapon at the officers, and they had no other choice than to discharge their weapon and strike the male.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Once the threat was stopped, they disengaged. They went inside the house, did what’s called a protective sweep to make sure no one else was there. Then they rendered immediate medical attention to the individual.”

The suspect died on the scene.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “While we don’t have to, but out of the desire to have an independent review, we called in Florida Department of Law Enforcement, asked them to do an independent review of the shooting to make sure we have a non-biased review of the shooting matter. It appears to be a suicide by cop. The individual was a federal agent working as a federal flight deck officer for Homeland Security Air Marshal Services. It was a terrible, sad case. This individual was intoxicated, dealing with a domestic situation and alcohol and unfortunately made the worst decision of his life.”

It just goes to show sheriff’s deputies never know what they will find when they answer calls.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Here we’re dealing with a professional law enforcement officer, a professional pilot, a person who has two 20-some year old sons, has a great life. You never know the stability or the thinking from somebody, no matter who they are, no matter what call you respond to.”