“We didn’t want to cause a crash over some toothbrushes” – you NEVER know what a Monroe County Sheriff’s Officer will face

In the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, every day on the job is a different adventure.

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

Christmas on the Farm was held this past weekend. There were more than 1,000 people that come through the farm. Santa Claus was on hand, as well as arts and crafts.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We make it a really special day for the kids in our community to come out and do something and see something they never see.”

A case of animal cruelty showed up in the news recently. A 29-year-old Islamorada man tossed two kittens from a moving vehicle on US 1 last week.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “This is such a sad story. Cars going down the road. A young lady is riding behind this car up in the Islamorada area and she sees a kitten thrown from the car. After that she swerves to avoid hitting this kitten and right after that, a second kitten is thrown out the window. She again swerves. She was able to get a vehicle description and a license plate number. She tried to stop and render aid, but the two cats ran off into the wooded area.”

She notified the sheriff’s office and the vehicle was located. The driver and passenger denied any knowledge of the incident.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We went with the complainant and tried to find the kittens. We could hear them in the woods crying, but as we got near them, they just took off and kept running away from people. They were just terrorized as you can imagine.”

Throughout the night the female driver and deputies from the sheriff’s office looked for the kittens.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Later on that night one of my deputies was going back trying to find the cat again and we found one that had tried to cross the road and got struck by a car and was deceased. So really, really sad.”

The other kitten came out the next day was able to be caught and was adopted by the female driver.

The investigation resulted in an arrest for cruelty to animals for throwing the kittens out the window.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “It’s just so sad. If you don’t want the kittens, turn them over to the SPCA. There’s plenty of loving families that would love to have these kittens and not do this.”

There was also a hit and run late last week in Islamorada that resulted in a serious bodily injury.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “The individual that got struck is in critical condition. They don’t know if he’s going to survive. It happened in Islamorada up around the Green Turtle Restaurant.”

A pedestrian was trying to cross the street and was hit by a vehicle. The vehicle did not stop. Because the person was down on the road, he was struck a second time by another vehicle that did stop. The victim was airlifted by Trauma Star to the hospital.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Last report is still alive, but extremely critical. FHP is handling the investigation. They brought in a traffic homicide investigator in the event this person passes away.”

The Sheriff’s Department and Florida Highway Patrol are looking for any information to identify the first car that hit the individual.

A traffic stop in Key West resulted in a drug arrest late last week. When sheriff’s deputies stopped the car, the driver jumped out of the car and fled on foot. The 23-year-old man from Key West eventually jumped in the water.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Both the driver and passenger both had warrants for their arrest. One had a probation warrant violation and one had a larceny violation.”

There was MDMA, cocaine, crack and paraphernalia in the car.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “It still goes to show, you’re stopping someone for just a simple traffic violation. As soon as the car comes to a stop, the driver opens the car and runs away. For a police officer, you just think this is a routine traffic stop, but it goes to show that even routine stuff in our job can turn really dangerous really fast and you never know what people have just done.”

A 37-year-old Islamorada man stole 6 electric toothbrushes that are apparently worth more than $1,300 from a Walgreens in Marathon recently.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “A store employee sees him getting six of these really high expensive electric toothbrushes and walking right out. The employee gets a good description of the car and knows what direction it’s going.”

Police found the car and a pursuit ensued.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “For safety reasons because we’re only talking about theft of merchandise, we decided to break off the pursuit because we didn’t want to cause a crash over some toothbrushes. So we called ahead to our north end unit to let them know this car was coming.”

Eventually officers did stop the car, and the driver admitted to stealing the toothbrushes, but they weren’t in the car. The driver said he threw them into the water when he stopped on the Long Key Bridge.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Ultimately we were able to arrest him and hold him accountable. Obviously we could not recover the property because it’s in the ocean. These are difficult decisions, making the decision to pursue, not pursue, how far to go, but always trying to have an alternate Plan B to still have a plan to get the suspects, not let them go, but make sure we can do it as safely as possible.”

Shockingly, in California, a person can actually steal $995 in property and get away with it because police there won’t prosecute.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “In that case, they’re encouraging crime. Crime pays in those areas. Those stores are ultimately shutting down left and right because they are losing so much inventory, it’s no longer profitable. So it’s only hurting the community, hurting employment for job opportunities, the tax bases. That’s California, so they are doing some crazy stuff out there I think in my opinion. But here? No. You try that here, you are going to jail.”

Migrant landings continue to be a problem in the Keys. In fact, there are two to three landings a day.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We’re just seeing record numbers come in. We’re at over 600 percent increase from years past in migration landings. This is a mass migration situation. The government does not want to call it a mass migration. They keep beating the drum that the southwest border is secure and yet there’s over two million people illegally coming in the US through that border. They still say that it’s secure. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that’s not secure and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out when you have 600 percent increase in migration in the Florida Keys that we’re under a mass migration situation here, especially with a rural county with limited resources.”

Please be careful and responsible during holiday parties.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “The last thing you want to do is hurt somebody else or yourself. There are so many means to get away from having to drive a car, you know, Ubers and taxis and designated drivers. We want to enjoy this holiday and not ruin it for yourself or somebody else. Getting picked up for drunk driving will ruin your life. Or God forbid you hurt or kill somebody. You’ll be in prison. This is important. We want people to have an enjoyable holiday, but have a plan. Have a plan to ensure your safety and the safety of others.”

In the Keys, it’s about citizen involvement and partnerships with other law enforcement agencies.

In fact, the Citizens Police Academy will begin in February and is open to people wanting to learn more about law enforcement and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. The academy is held in three parts of the county so everyone will have a chance.

It runs for one day a week from 3 to 9 p.m. for five weeks.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We make it hands-on, fun, educational. You’re not just being lectured to. You get a chance to do role playing scenarios, traffic stops, building searches, do a ride along. We want people to see just how diverse the sheriff’s office is, how much we do. We are a full service sheriff’s office. We’re in charge of 911 dispatch centers, Trauma Star, jails, patrol, investigations, dives, airport security. People are shocked to see how much we actually do. We want this to be a rapport building between citizens and the sheriff’s office. I want the citizens to be good friends and partners to the sheriff’s office. I want us to know our citizens and be able to better aid and assist and focus on what’s important to them. Not only crime reduction, but quality of life work.

Space is limited, so anyone who is interested should contact the captain in the area where they wish to attend. Applications are due by Jan. 24, 2023.

• Upper Keys: Capt. Spenser Bryan, 305-853-3211 or [email protected] or Capt. Derek Paul, 305-664-6480 or [email protected]

• Middle Keys: Capt. Don Hiller, 305-289-2430 or [email protected]

• Lower Keys: Capt. David Smith, 305-745-3184 or [email protected]