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 sheriff is in Tampa for the Sheriffs’ Associations Summer Conference.
He said, “We get together twice a year. This is an important time to get together all the sheriffs and talk about other counties and problems, what’s going on, what they’re doing, how they’re solving issues so we can kind of not reinvent the wheel, learn from other people. We look at legislative issues that we want to focus on to try to keep our state and counties safer, what we want to push with new legislation. So it’s a very important time. This is also continuing education. I’m required to keep up a continuing education. So we get locked down here during the course of the time. We’ll be here the next couple of days just trying to get caught up and just do our stuff to try to make ourselves better, stronger, smarter, wiser.”
Lobster mini season is upon us and there was an arrest of a 39-year-old Lauderhill Florida man for a lot of lobster violations.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “We saw a person diving around the bridge with no dive flag. We went out with him, we found him with wrung lobster in his pocket and we went further investigation and found more wrung lobster out of season. So we got him on a total of eight out of season wrung lobster, no dive flag and a few other violations. We elected to take him to jail and actually arrested him. So we’re seeing more and more marine violations. We all know mini season is coming up this week, which is going to be just chaos. But we’re doing two, three marine related cases a week down there trying to help our friends in FWC and trying to help protect our environment.”
A motorist from Hollywood was fleeing Monroe County Officers late at night a few days ago.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “Fleeing us in a Volkswagen. I wish I could tell our listeners this is more exciting, a Ferrari or something big. But yeah, he’s in a Volkswagen fleeing from us. We’re trying to stop this guy late night for a traffic violation. We go to stop him and he driving erratic, he pulls over, goes ahead, pulls over, turns the lights off, starts going again. This goes on for a few miles. We’re driving the wrong lane, one time driving in a bicycle path. Finally, about two three miles later, he pulls over stops, opens his door, gets out of the door and just starts walking away.”
Officers were giving lawful commands, telling him to stop, but he just kept walking.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “So unfortunately, we had no other choice but to deploy a taser. So we deployed a taser, which immediately stopped him from fleeing via foot now. A taser puts you down on the ground pretty fast. So when someone pulls a taser and says stop, you need to do what they tell you to do, because you don’t want to be tased. So we tased him, dropped him to the ground, handcuffed, secured him, arrested him. We use these intermediate weapons because we don’t want to go to deadly force with a handgun and we don’t want to go fist to fist to see who’s the baddest guy on the block. So we do use pepper spray and tasers. This is what’s called an intermediate weapon. It’s designed to protect the officers from getting in these physical fights. But also it’s designed to protect the person we’re trying to arrest because we don’t want to knock their teeth out or hurt them either. Our goal is to try to as fast as we can de-escalate and stop the threat and the act of violence against anybody.”
The check fraud case continues to be investigated. It began in November 2022, with a criminal pattern regarding multiple cases of check fraud. There were seven suspects identified, $175,000 stolen and 57 instances affecting a lot of businesses and people in the Keys. Another arrest has been made, bringing the total to 11.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “This case is going to continue. We’re going to continue to do everything we can to hold people accountable who are stealing mail, cashing illegal checks and doing identity thefts. The Postmaster General, the postal Inspectors have done nothing to help us when this is really should be their case since it’s mail that’s being stolen, US mail, we believe being stolen from the office itself by internal employees. But yet there’s been no help and no desire to help us even root out what appears to be an internal matter at the Postal Service. So we continue to investigate these cases. We have to continue to put out subpoenas and search warrants to try to get hold of bank records, and track these addresses down about who opened these accounts and trying to then go back and identify the checks that they’ve cashed. Most of them are cashed via cell phone and take a picture and they submit it electronically. This has been a wide scale case, which has had strings well outside of Monroe and on to Dade County and the west coast of Florida. This is a big operation that’s occurring across the nation. We’re just trying to be more aggressive than the average law enforcement agency that may say it’s civil or may just tell you to go talk to your bank or to deal with it. We’re pursuing these cases. We’re making arrests every couple of weeks, we’re arresting a new person or adding more charges to ones we’ve already arrested. These are difficult cases. Paper cases are not easy. These are really timed, methodical cases putting these things together, every piece of the puzzle to build and prove a case against somebody.”
A Tavernier Florida man threw a knife that got lodged into a female’s foot during an argument recently.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “This was a 33 year old male out of Tavernier, in a domestic dispute with his other half there, and at some point time, had an open knife and threw it at her. When it threw, it landed on the ground on her foot, and actually penetrated, went through her foot. So by time we got there, we’re dealing with a very volatile situation, blood all around the house, and trying to figure out what took place, trying to detain him, trying to get her medical attention, trying to protect the crime scene. So it was quite a mess. Ultimately, we did determine that yes, he was the aggressor. Yes, he threw a knife into her foot, causing serious injury. He was arrested for aggravated domestic battery. We got her medical attention. She had to go to the hospital and deal with her medical injuries as a result. It’s sad to see these type of situations, someone can have someone that they say they love, come to that point in time where you’re throwing a knife at that person. It’s hard to understand some of this stuff, and hard to understand what goes through people’s minds. Sometimes it’s alcohol, sometimes drugs, sometimes it’s mental illness, sometimes it’s just anger and rage. But, they’re wanting to attack and hurt their loved one, they’re likely to be willing to hurt and attack a police officer who’s they’re trying to deal with the situation, who they don’t have any feelings for and don’t care about. We keep saying how difficult, challenging and dangerous this job to be a police officer anywhere in America is.”
A number of businesses were caught selling alcohol to minors recently.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “We do go out and do compliance checks. Unfortunately, sometimes some of these lay workers do sell to minors, don’t card them. We’re not trying to bust on them particularly, but we’re trying to have education enforcement and we want to send a message. We let people know we’re going out to do this because we don’t want surprise them. We do want compliance. We don’t want alcohol sold to young kids, minors who may get behind the wheel, hurt themselves, do something, make a poor decision. They’re just not old enough and able to deal with alcohol, make good rational decisions. So we have to do our part. We want all these liquor sale agencies to know that we do these checks, we’re coming out and we may be coming in and you may not know who it is. So we’re trying not to hide. We want to be upfront. Transparent, try to educate, try to prevent, deter and hope that we get compliance. That’s what we want. We want compliance. We don’t want to have to take action on people. But unfortunately, sometimes we have no choice if they can’t follow the rules because repercussions could be, this could be a loss of life.”
There will be a number of travelers coming to the Keys.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “This is a mini season down in the Florida Keys. So if you’re down there, you should expect heavy traffic, you should expect a lot of boats and trailers that are going slow, pulling on and off the road. You may see areas where the boat ramps are overfilled onto the highway because it’s too many boats trying to get into a ramp area. You may see an area in the north end of Marathon one lane may be shut down because the traffic is so heavy trying to get into a boat ramp. So use discretion. Leave early. Plan ahead, be patient. We’re going to expect big crowds. If you need to get the grocery store, you should get there pretty soon because as we get close to the mini season, Publix and Winn Dixie gets so busy and packed. So try to get fuel and if you’re going to be on a boat on the water, just try to enjoy the day. Don’t get stressed out. People fighting for six lobsters do some crazy stuff sometimes.”