With the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, it’s all about helping others

Officers in the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department are always looking out for the welfare of citizens in the Keys.

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 Guidance Care Center was recognized recently for their Jail In-House program.

“I’m proud of that,” Sheriff Ramsay said. “They actually took top honor for their In-House jail program for mental health. We have Guidance Care Center embedded in our jails, trying to help our inmates to get the treatment they need, the help they need, to try to stabilize them to come out better than they went in…to help prepare these inmates to better understand, to come out to be good stewards of our community, to not re-offend. That’s our goal is to drop recidivism rates of people coming in and out of jail.”

Programs in the jail include AA, Work Release, in-house Culinary Arts, Anger Management and parenting.

Recently, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department sent officials to assist in the west coast of Florida after Hurricane Ian.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “After any type of emergency that occurs in the state of Florida, the Florida Sheriff’s Association gets together, all 67 sheriffs and we try and help these counties with our resources. Post hurricane, in this case, we wait for a mission request from the state. We get a mission number and when we get a mission request, we send whatever assets or resources they’re asking for. Here they were asking for dive teams. We’re known to have a pretty impressive dive team. They wanted our dive team to come up and work in some of these really difficult areas – these canals, navigational waterways where they have potential sunken boats and cars, maybe bodies, that they want to identify for removal. So we sent up our dive team to the west coast.”

The group scanned the bottom of certain waterways and provided a list of what was found, the GPS coordinates and imaging from the sonar.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “It was a good time to help aid another area. We’ve been here before in very difficult times, so we can surely understand. It’s good to work with other agencies. It’s just one big team. We have to all work together to try to help when the chips are down.”

In fact, an officer from Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Derek Paul, graduated from the 284th session of the FBI National Academy recently.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “This FBI National Academy is the most prestigious class you can go to in law enforcement. I’m a graduate of the 212th session myself. I’ve got about eight people who have gone through it in the agency. Really hard to get a slot. You just can’t send somebody. It takes a long time – it takes years to get a slot. Then that person has to be vetted and approved by the government to go. If you get selected, the government pays for all expenses, so that’s a good thing for taxpayers, but you come out with an impressive education on police management. My class had 255 students, so the networking you get out of this, people from not just Florida, every state across the nation and even foreign countries. We have state, local, federal and military personnel in this class. So you come out with just knowledge that you can’t get anywhere else and you come out with these contacts that are just second to none.”

It’s a three-month program in the barracks at Quantico.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “You’re away from your home, family, work for three months. It’s a commitment to go. People think it’s not too big a deal. It’s difficult and challenging. Congratulations to him. I’m proud of him.”

Less than one percent of law enforcement officers have the opportunity to attend that program.

Recently, a 46-year-old man and 17-year-old juvenile took part in a dingy engine theft. The juvenile admitted to wanting to sell the engine. It was recovered and returned to the victim. Charges are pending against both of them.

A 43-year-old Connecticut man was arrested on Thursday breaking into an Islamorada home. He fled from the deputies on US 1. He had stolen some minor things from the home.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Any time you enter a house and commit a crime therein, makes the entry in the house from a trespass to a burglary. Not uncommon when we see some of these people in these areas that are burglarizing or entering homes, a lot of times they’re drifters looking for a place to sleep for the night, take a shower and get food type stuff. We’ve seen that in Islamorada the last couple of years here and there with homeless or drifters that enter a home for whatever reason. Just all the more reason, I always talk about locking doors and putting security cameras. This is still one of the safest places ever to live, work and play, but crimes and crimes of opportunities do occur. Most time we have these homes entered, they’re unlocked. We’re lucky that we were able to get quickly on scene, get this individual under control and apprehend him quickly, stop any future potential crimes that he may commit. Hold him accountable and keep sending the message to people that you commit a crime in Monroe, you’re more likely to get arrested here, charged and convicted in Monroe than other counties. We’re pretty quick. Our response time is generally about two minutes. We get there when people are still right there and we’re able to solve these crimes pretty quickly.”

Key Largo was the site of a stabbing incident recently that escalated from a dispute between two housekeepers from Homestead.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “These are two workers that live in south Dade. They work in a high-end hotel. They’re from a foreign country. They got into an argument and the argument escalated until each one is pulling a knife and attacking each other. Both were stabbed. Both had to go get medical attention. We let them get medical attention first before we make any arrests. Our goal is to get medical attention and then try to sort it out to see what took place, who started it, who was the aggressor. Does one or both have potential culpability here? It just goes to show what our officers have to deal with each and every day. Every day, every call is so different you just never know what you’re going to.”

Human remains have been identified from a case in April. An individual was hiking in the upper Keys and discovered human remains.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “It took a while to get the remains. We treated it as a homicide. We just don’t know. We have to treat it like a crime did exist. Then we have to go out and try to identify the person. We then believed it was a homeless individual that was living in the area. We had to get DNA and go back and try to do identification and get the medical examiner. We also determined it was a natural death. We did identify the individual. It was the homeless individual we had believed that it was that was living in the wooded area. So sad, but at least we get some closure for the family and get this person to a proper burial with the family. We have to treat everything as worst-case scenario, hoping for the best. We can’t go back if we don’t process the crime scene or do the appropriate stuff. We can’t just assume it’s a natural death and not take it serious and then later on, the medical examiner determines it was foul play. We can’t go back and reinvent that crime scene. Everything has to go full forward as if we think someone just murdered somebody. Just another day in the life of a lawman.”

It’s important to remember around the holidays, be responsible and don’t drink and drive.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “We don’t want to be Debby Downers. This is a time to go out and spend time with family and friends and cheer and parties, but you can do that without jeopardizing yourself or somebody else. We can have designated drivers and Ubers and plan ahead. There are so many taxis. There are so many ways we can still partake, but yet not risk ourselves or somebody else. That’s the most important thing make sure everybody makes it home at the end of the night.”

Also remember the roads will be pretty busy right after Christmas.

Sheriff Ramsay said, “Basically between Christmas and Easter is the busiest times in our roads with the most congestion. We’ll see heavy traffic after the holidays. We should expect here soon some big increases in traffic. Drive safe and be careful and be respectful and plan ahead and let’s have a good, safe holiday.”