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ACTIONS OF OUR YOUNG PEOPLE MAKE US PROUD--WAKULLATIMES MARCH 2012

BY DONNIE CRUM
SHERIFF, WAKULLA COUNTY
I was recently fortunate enough to visit the Riversink Elementary School during classes to recognize a special second grader. I became aware that Emma Lloyd had discovered a $20 bill in her library book and knew she had to do something about it. Emma returned the money and the cash was turned over to the rightful owner who really needed it.

I presented a “Super Student” certificate to Emma in front of her teacher and classmates. I also gave her a letter to save commemorating the event. I was very proud of Emma for making the right decision and returning the money even at the young age of eight.

Principal Jackie High and her Riversink staff and the sheriff’s office are all very proud of Emma and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.
Emma’s actions provided a special treat for me as I got to visit one of our fine elementary schools. But it wasn’t the only activity going on at the sheriff’s office as 2011 quickly turned into 2012.

The husband and wife team of Sgt. Ronald and Vicki Mitchell spent time on the road recently as we asked them to pick up an arrested female suspect who was accused of committing a fraud against an elderly Wakulla County resident.

We discovered that it was considerably cheaper to go to Pierre, S.D. to pick up the prisoner rather than contract with a vendor to complete the journey. We not only brought our suspect back to Wakulla County to face felony fraud charges, but we also saved the taxpayers more than 50 percent of what it would have cost us to hire a vendor to complete the trip by doing the work ourselves.

The sheriff’s office has nominated Chaplain Dallas Gray for an award through the Tallahassee Democrat’s Volunteer of the Year award program. Chaplain Gray does an outstanding job as a volunteer in assisting our staff and members of the community get through tough circumstances. Chaplain Gray has seen a great deal in his volunteer work and we appreciate everything he does. We certainly hope the newspaper will give him the recognition he deserves.

WCSO Bailiff Gary Lewis was recognized with a luncheon after retiring from his post in December. Gary spent six years working for the sheriff’s office providing courthouse security.

The county was fortunate that a young girl and two young boys escaped tragedy when they were struck by a vehicle and injured in a three wheeler accident respectively.
Our Litter Control Unit does an outstanding job collecting trash along the side of the non-state roads. After we compiled the 2011 collection statistics we discovered that the unit collected 196,420 pounds of trash last year. Without the outstanding effort of the litter unit much of the trash would still be on the sides of our roads.

Our volunteer Public Service Officers (PSO) worked 340 hours in December and another 293 more hours during January. The PSOs provide a great deal of help to our patrol deputies and do it for the love of the county. They have been well trained, and like our reserve officers, they do not receive any monetary compensation. The monetary saving to taxpayers was more than $4,000 per month.

Two burglary suspects were caught taking items from a residential location in Crawfordville. Our detectives were investigating a burglary at the home when they discovered the two men still on the property and made the arrests.

A Medart house fire created $85,000 worth of damage to a home but fortunately the family was able to get out of the house without any injuries or loss of life.
Wakulla County celebrated the Christmas and New Year’s Day holiday with some time off from work. But for individuals employed in law enforcement and corrections, flexibility with the holidays is a key factor. The holidays fell on Sundays this year and our law enforcement and corrections staff worked through the special days.

The law enforcement and corrections staff members make arrangements with their families and determine when to celebrate the holidays. We thank them for their service and willingness to be away from their families during the holidays.

As quickly as Thanksgiving came, it departed and the sheriff’s office prepared for the annual Christmas in the Park. Captain Larry Massa and members of the Wakulla Sheriff’s Office Volunteers teamed up with the Wakulla Parks and Recreation Department and Centennial Bank to put on a great Christmas season festival.

We had several hundred children and parents visiting the park to get a chance to speak to Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. The children were given a chance to win prizes and enjoy train rides and some favorite foods.

Public Service Officer (PSO) Nancy Watts helped guide Santa into the park with her vehicle with lights and sirens turned on. Santa came in on a horse drawn carriage. The event helps get everyone into the Christmas spirit and gives the sheriff’s office an opportunity to give something back to the community.

Competing with the Christmas event was a Wakulla War Eagle football game. The success of the team captured the imagination of the county and brought large crowds to J.D. Jones Stadium and Reynolds Field. Our School Resource Officers (SRO), PSOs and uniformed patrol officers had a busy fall in Medart. The security team worked a total of 10 games at the stadium with the playoff games drawing large crowds and posing a difficult crowd control and traffic task on U.S. Highway 98. They did a great job keeping everyone safe before, during and after the ball games.

Several of our staff members were part of Operation Santa which is a program designed to help less fortunate families have a nicer Christmas through the donations of clothing, toys, food and other gifts. Lt. Bruce Ashley helped make Christmas brighter for many of our residents by working tirelessly throughout the fall.
Wakulla County is fortunate to have eight Public Service Officers who provide many hours of service to the sheriff’s office free of charge. In November, the PSOs worked 291 hours which saved taxpayers $4,377 based on a $15 per hour pay rate.

With the election season just a few months away, Undersheriff Maurice Langston held a swearing in ceremony for a number of Wakulla poll workers who worked the Presidential Preference Primary and will work the fall primary election and the November General Election. The poll workers are sworn in and given credentials which were distributed by Wakulla County Supervisor of Elections Buddy Wells.

Two individuals were arrested on narcotics charges following the execution of a search warrant. Eleven marijuana plants were observed outside the home and the two men were also charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell. The plants were seized by detectives for disposal.

A Tallahassee man was arrested and charged with dealing in stolen property after detectives discovered the man with firearms and currency taken from a St. Marks residence.

Former Wakulla County Sheriff David Harvey presented a $25,000 check to the Wakulla Seminole Boosters and Steve Brown following fundraising activities that took place at Sheriff Harvey’s retirement celebration at the FSU University Center in October. Harvey also honored his former brother-in-law and high school coach Houston Taff. The Wakulla Seminole Boosters host a memorial golf tournament that is named for Taff which also raises funds for the Wakulla High School student-athlete scholarship.

While Sheriff Harvey used a War Eagle football playoff game to announce the scholarship funding, two Wakulla County teenagers used another Wakulla playoff game to steal property from the Pasco County football locker room during the triple overtime Wakulla victory. The two teenagers were caught at a Crawfordville fast food restaurant and much of the stolen property was returned to the Pasco players.

Freeman Pigott was injured when his dump truck tumbled over the side of the Sopchoppy Bridge on his way north on Highway 375. The dump truck crashed nose first into the bank of the river and spilled a small amount of diesel fuel into the river.

Riversink Elementary School fifth graders took part in their Substance Abuse and Violence Education (SAVE) graduation. Sgt. Ray Johnson taught the students about peer pressure, alcohol and drug abuse and Undersheriff Maurice Langston was the guest speaker as he spoke to the students about making the correct decisions.

Three Carrabelle residents in two vehicles suffered injuries following a head-on crash on U.S. Highway 319 near the Ochlockonee River State Park. Both vehicles were destroyed when one of the drivers crossed the centerline of the highway and struck the other motorist.

A Drug Take Back Bin placed in the lobby of the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office collected several pounds worth of unwanted and unused medications from residents who don’t have anywhere else to drop the medications. The sheriff’s office bagged and properly disposed of the medications to keep the narcotics off the street and away from being misused.

Undersheriff Maurice Langston was appointed to serve on the Criminal Justice Training Commission Council for this region of the state. The council promotes and facilitates training to increase professional conduct and competency for criminal justice officers.

A wide range of classes were announced for the WCSO Training Center and Firing Range. The classes are open to the public and cover firearm safety, concealed weapons and even automatic rifles. The schedule of the classes can be found on the Firing Range link on the sheriff’s office web site, www.wcso.org.

A Wakulla County family escaped injury when their vehicle crashed into a fallen tree on Highway 61 near the rear entrance to Wakulla Springs State Park. The tree was knocked down by windy conditions and also knocked down an electrical power line.

Riversink Elementary School students shared chocolate chip cookies with the sheriff’s office shortly before the Christmas holiday. The visit to the sheriff’s office was one of several the students made on their final day before the Christmas vacation that included public service operations including the courthouse, animal shelter, health department and fire department.

A felony criminal mischief was reported by Danny Ray Metcalf of Panacea as someone tampered with his boat motor and drilled holes in his vessel. A reward for the conviction of the individual responsible for the criminal mischief was offered by the sheriff’s office and by Metcalf.

The sheriff’s office held a staff luncheon in anticipation of the final day of work prior to the Christmas holiday. Our Christmas wish was for everyone to be safe on the highways during the Christmas holiday weekend.

The Wakulla County Jail has been running below capacity and on a recent count before Christmas the jail housed 265 inmates. The numbers included 133 local inmates, 120 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees, two U.S. Marshal’s Office inmates and 10 local inmates in other facilities.

With the close of another calendar year the sheriff’s office created 3,545 written reports over the course of the year. There were a few less reports written in 2011 when compared to 2010 as 3,626 reports were written in 2010.

The final statistics are in for trash collections along the sides of Wakulla County non-state roads. In 2010, 201,930 pounds were collected and in 2011, 196,420 pounds were collected by WCSO inmates and individuals assigned to the work camp.

A Tallahassee man was arrested for a Wakulla County residential burglary after WCSO detectives discovered stolen property inside his vehicle as well as at the home of a relative in Tallahassee. The detectives discovered their suspect at the home of the victim when they went back to the home to do some follow-up investigation. The suspect also had a juvenile at the scene with him.

Deputy Rachel Oliver was recognized with a commendation for her fast action in assisting a heart attack victim at Goodwill Industries in Crawfordville earlier in 2011. Deputy Oliver was credited with saving the man’s life after he became unconscious in the store. EMS staff arrived on the scene and took over for Deputy Oliver who used her AED Cardio Heart Defibrillator to keep her subject alive until medical attention arrived on scene.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office reported a missing teenage girl who was thought to be in Wakulla or Leon counties. WCSO detectives were assigned to the case and continued to work following up on leads on locating the missing female. She was found unharmed in Leon County as WCSO deputies assisted Leon County Sheriff’s Office investigators return her to guardians.

Wakulla County motorists were careful on the highways during the 2011 holiday period as there were no fatalities reported and no major crashes for deputies to investigate.

During a recent 30 day period the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office received 3,599 calls for service. Some of the more common calls included: 31 business alarms; 33 residential alarms; 22 animal incidents; 47 assists to other agencies; 11 Baker Acts; 11 batteries; 17 residential burglaries; 14 vehicle burglaries; 362 citizen contacts; 20 criminal mischief’s; 52 disturbances; 16 funeral escorts; 12 fights; 13 flag downs; 24 frauds; 14 intoxicated people; 191 investigations; 15 juvenile problems; 42 loud music/noise complaints; 218 medical emergencies; 21 road obstructions; 258 security checks; 14 shots fired in the area; 110 special details; 21 subpoena services; 49 suspicious people; 44 suspicious vehicles; 40 thefts; 45 traffic crashes with no injuries; 25 traffic crashes with unknown injuries; 17 traffic enforcements; 227 traffic stops; 13 training events; 31 trespassing reports; 44 abandoned vehicles; 32 disabled vehicles; 66 reckless vehicles; 67 wanted people; 19 warrant services, 666 watch orders; and 22 welfare checks.

 

Know Your Zone