A number of cases have come up for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office recently that goes to show the law is taken quite serious in southern Florida.
Rick Ramsay, the Sheriff of Monroe County, joined Good Morning Keys this morning on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM to talk about the recent incidents.
Over the weekend, a 26-year-old Miami-Dade County police officer was down in the Keys, had been drinking and was clocked at 110 miles per hour around 3 a.m. in North Key Largo. When Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies attempted to pull him over, the officer didn’t stop, and in fact accelerated. At one point, there were three patrol cars from Monroe County trying to stop him.
Once the car was stopped, it was noticed the front visor has red and blue lights flashing. The Chrysler 300 was an unmarked vehicle, but the police officer claimed it was an undercover law enforcement vehicle. He was visibly intoxicated – actually slurring his words.
A road-side sobriety test was refused. He was arrested for evading police and driving under the influence.
The Miami-Dade County Internal Affairs were notified.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “This is an unfortunate situation which paints all police officers in a bad light. One person that makes us all look bad. Miami-Dade County has a great department. They do a great job. You know, 3,500 men and women, but the actions of one person can reflect on all 3,500 people in that agency. So really sad day for law enforcement and stupid. He could have killed himself or somebody else.”
Monroe County is vigilant in obeying the law.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “He didn’t get a break. He didn’t get let go. He went to jail. As well, we always tell your listeners, good or bad, you’re going to hear it from Rick Ramsay first, so we did a press release on it. We put a proactive press release to let the citizens know what’s going on, so our citizens here in Monroe should rest assured and feel comfortable that we don’t hide actions and we do hold people accountable, even law enforcement. If you’re law enforcement, you’re going to be held accountable and if you do wrong, you’re going to be on my booking page, your picture’s going to be on my arrest page, just like anybody else’s.”
Mike Stapleford of KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM said, “Your department is to be commended because you enforce the law no matter who it is and job well done there.”
In terms of school security, Ramsay reported a threat from the Ocean Reef School on Friday. It’s a small charter school in North Key Largo and two children were reported to Department of Children and Family Services due to concerns.
The father became aware of the notification and began making threats via email as well as a Facebook post.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “You should never do it, but more so this day and age, you don’t make threats and you don’t make threats when it comes to kids in school.”
Monroe County Sheriff’s office received copies of the threats and determined that he sent them, consulted with the state attorney’s office and believed probable cause existed and for safety concerns, made an arrest.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “We had extra officers on the charter school at Ocean Reef. We just were not willing to take any chances with the safety of our kids and community. I brought extra officers out and we worked around the clock until we built a case where we could arrest him and we arrested him as soon as we could. Words have actions.”
Threats don’t always come from students in the school, but any and all threats are taken absolutely seriously.
Sometimes threats can be made even in the judicial system.
Judge Peary Fowler of the Monroe County Sixteenth Judicial Circuit Court, had received voicemail threats from a man involved in a child custody case presided over by Judge Fowler.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “He was very vocal. Started off nice initially and it would go downhill quickly to threats. Threats of violence. Threats of taking the law into his own hands. Threats of blowing up the courthouse. Threats against the judge. They were extremely violent. Extremely outrageous and every time he called back, they became more volatile. We believe he was in California and he left his name and number every time he called, but as I listened to these recordings, I listened to all three of them, it was just outrageous, the threats and violence. He was talking about school shootings and he was talking about how he can understand now how people can go do these mass shootings. Really scary stuff. So as soon as I saw these, I called out my Risk Protection Team, my detectives, this was a full court press. I spoke to my staff.”
Judge Fowler was kept apprised of the case as it unfolded.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “I told my staff, he’s going to jail and we’re going to stay out and work this case until we get a warrant for his arrest. I called the state attorney myself. I asked for a felony prosecutor to be placed on standby after hours because we’re going to need to have some stuff signed.”
The Sheriff’s office got a warrant, got it signed and got it clerked. The bond was set at $1 million. Authorities in California were contacted and by 2 a.m., the suspect was in prison in California awaiting extradition to Monroe County.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “The message continues to be here we do not take any threats lightly. You make any threats, whether it be to our school, our kids, our community or our judges, you are going to jail.”
In another incident, recently at 8 a.m. at the Big Coppitt Key Circle K, a Monroe County Police Officer found a car in the parking lot with the windows rolled down, the trunk open and smoke was visible as was the smell of marijuana.
A 27-year-old man from Miami was rolling marijuana cigarettes.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “He’s non-compliant, combative, won’t get out of the car. We eventually get him out of the car, arrest him. We search the car. He did not have a medical marijuana card. We find 1.3 pounds of marijuana in the car. Over a pound of marijuana is a lot of marijuana. This isn’t the smartest criminal, but it just goes to show you pull up to a gas station just to get a cup of coffee on the way in, you come across this type stupid stuff. This is a challenging, difficult job where things can change in a matter of seconds.”