Here's a full Marco Island police report by Chief Tracy L. Frazzano.
Post-hurricane recovery efforts continued as a priority for our Department.
Both Police and Code Enforcement officers conducted welfare checks throughout the Island. Efforts included home assistance for residents living in high rises without electricity and helping the respective condo buildings perform wellness checks for residents who sheltered in place during the storm.
Our waterways and beaches required significant attention for debris cleanup. The Marine Unit remained vigilant in removing various hazards floating in the surrounding waters and canals. Officers located over 300 misplaced vessels, reuniting most of them with their owners. The Code Enforcement department removed truckloads of debris from the area beaches and assisted calls for service with injured animals.
Officers went door to door in the area most affected by Hurricane Ian, checking on their health, safety, and living conditions. Our officers then partnered with local faith-based organizations, businesses, and food pantries to provide the needed resources, meals, and household staples to the families. Large replacement items, such as donated appliances, were delivered directly to the families by the officers.
Over 30 families received donations and support from our Department and community.
Marco Island Crime report
98 incident reports were written in October, a 50% increase compared to last year. Criminal offenses increased primarily due to more property crimes (thefts) and miscellaneous crimes (trespassing, hit and runs, warrants). The Marco Island Police Department made 13 arrests in October for fleeing and eluding DUIs, drugs/narcotics possession, assaults, and criminal traffic offenses (driving without a license with knowledge).
The MIPD Admin staff gave our officers a surprise by dressing as prison inmates for Halloween.
Note: Multiple criminal offenses may have occurred within some incidents in 2022. This reporting aligns with new crime data collection requirements from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI. This announcement for crime reporting was covered in the February 2022 monthly report.
Non-criminal incidents are reports that do not have a criminal offense or are information reports. Examples include fraud cases (outside of Marco Island jurisdiction), other agency assists, lost and found items, and medical assists.
61 non-criminal incident reports were taken in October 2022, which equated to approximately 60% of total incident reports written. The 2 most common non-criminal reports were for lost or found property (28%), and suspicious incidents (33%) classified as civil or non-criminal.
Marco Island Traffic patrol
In October, 82 traffic citations and warnings were issued by the Marco Island Police Department. Most infractions were for expired registrations/ driver’s licenses, followed by the failure to obey traffic signs. The Marco Island Police Department seized seven driver's licenses for suspensions or revocations.
5 criminal traffic citations were issued: 3 for driving without a driver’s license or with an expired registration with knowledge, and 2 individuals were arrested for multiple charges, which included driving under the influence and fleeing and eluding, and driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident .
Cases Closed by Detective Bureau:
Criminal Mischief – A suspect in Arizona who committed criminal mischief earlier this year, was identified; the victim declined to press charges.
Aggravated Assault – A victim involved in a road rage incident involving a firearm declined to press charges against the identified suspect.
Petit Theft – A suspect who was stealing packages at condominiums was identified. An arrest warrant request was sent to the State Attorney’s Office.
Battery-Subjects involved in a physical altercation no longer cooperated with police investigations; the case will no longer be pursued for prosecution.
Exposure of Sexual Organs in Public- A warrant request was sent to the SAO for indecent exposure.
Lost Property – Detectives assisted an individual in locating a purse that was reported lost.
Follow-Up Reports from Patrol:
Narcotics – A search warrant was obtained for the vehicle seized from a fleeing and eluding incident. The vehicle contained 168 grams of marijuana packaged in a fashion typical for sale. The suspect received an additional charge of intent to sell/distribute narcotics with the existing charges.
Risk Protection Order (RPO) – An individual threatened self-harm with a firearm. The individual was taken into custody under the Baker Act (involuntary commitment to a mental health facility), and their firearms were seized. The Detective Bureau applied for a risk protection order to suspend the individual’s right to bear arms for one year.
RPO – A subject pointed a firearm at a neighbor. The individual was taken into custody under the Baker Act. The Detective Bureau applied for a risk protection order to suspend that individual’s right to bear arms for one year.
Vessel Burglaries – After a four-month investigation, a string of vessel burglary cases was suspended until more information becomes available.
Grand Theft Auto- 3 vehicles at three separate locations were reported stolen. Investigators located 1 vehicle and determined the vehicle had been accidentally towed by a tow company. The other 2 incidents are legitimate thefts.
Burglary of Dwelling – The detective bureau responded to a burglary that required substantial crime scene processing. Evidence was submitted for analysis.
Criminal Mischief – Investigation with a damaged sign is ongoing.
Retail Theft –To help generate leads, investigators distributed images of a shoplifting suspect.
Operation Medicine Cabinet – 40 lbs. of assorted prescription medications were removed from the public drop-off site and placed into evidence pending destruction.
Baker Act – A subject was transported to David Lawrence Center for evaluation.
October Reserve / Auxiliary Program Activity Hours
Reserve and Auxiliary Police Officers are unpaid volunteers who are certified by the State of Florida to perform in the law enforcement role. These officers must meet the Departments and the State of Florida’s annual retraining/certification requirements. Reserve and Auxiliary personnel are required to volunteer a minimum of 16 hours per month. They perform a variety of functions for our department and community, which are outlined in the chart below. Particularly they assist full-time personnel at community events or special duty functions (requests for an officer to be assigned and compensated by the outside vendor) and during significant weather events such as hurricanes or flooding. Reserve and Auxiliary Officers provide an additional uniformed police presence in neighborhoods, commercial areas, schools, parks, and beaches. Once a month, Reserve and Auxiliary Officers have a staff meeting to review policy changes, attend training, and address planning and logistical requirements.
Truck or Treat with MIPD
Special Duty Hours – Performance of Law Enforcement Duties Compensated by Outside Vendors
Special Details in October totaled 154 hours, 7 hours from September.
Throughout October, Marine officers focused on the aftermath of Hurricane Ian by removing debris in the surrounding waters, tracking stranded vessels, and searching for the respective vessels’ owners.
Marine officers surveyed the waterways using sonar to locate submerged obstacles marking them with temporary buoys for later removal. Patrols discovered a loose shoal marker in Factory Bay. Officers with the assistance of the City’s Public Works Department removed the marker until a new one could be secured. Officers continued advising watercrafts to be careful of debris and issued alerts through social media, including the missing marker’s coordinates.
At the end of this month, 217 vessels were salvaged by Sea Tow and Tow Boat US. Many other vessels were recovered and removed by individual boat owners and other contractors. Officers continue to communicate with owners of the remaining damaged / displaced vessels to assist them with information for the removal / recovery of their vessels.
Marine Officers pulling debris from canals
On October 18, 2022, Officer Ferris and Sergeant Casabona responded to a MERT (Marine Emergency Response Team) involving a 22’ vessel 18 miles offshore southwest of Marco Island. The vessel’s engine fell off while underway in 3’-4’ seas, damaging the transom. The vessel was taking on water. Marco Island Marine Officers were the first responders to the scene. The 3 males on the vessel were rescued and safely transported to shore.
Training and Conferences
Chief Frazzano attended the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference on October 14 –
17. IACP 2022 is an international event that hosts Chiefs and law enforcement officials around the world with a goal of advancing safer communities through professional police leadership.
All other schedued training sessions were postponed due to Hurricane Ian.
MIPD received recognition for their Breast Cancer Awareness efforts from the American Cancer Society
October Code Enforcement:
Community Service Officers (CSOs) continued efforts to improve community safety post-hurricane. Many high-rise residences were without power directly after the storm. In addition to their regular responsibilities, CSOs performed follow-up checks with the condo management offices, assisting residents who sheltered in place during the storm and were experiencing difficulties with daily living activities. CSOs also helped locate people in condos that had not yet established contact with their building’s management team after the storm.
CSOs also directed their resources to check construction sites, post-Hurricane Ian. 625 sites were inspected for safety and City Code Ordinances by the middle of October. Builders and equipment companies were contacted immediately to correct hazards.
October 2022 Code Enforcement Cases
Many of the routine daily violations and ordinances that are usually enforced by the Code Enforcement unit were put on hold due to the City Council passing of a 90-day moratorium that allowed for discretionary enforcement of ordinances that pertained to hurricane damage and relief efforts. In many cases, the officers responded to certain violations such as parking on swale, hurricane debris and RVs/trailers to provide education and explanation of the code. Those who were notified complied with the ordinance. 3 noise complaints were validated as violations.
October 2022 Code Enforcement Cases
The October 25, 2022, Magistrate Hearing was cancelled due to Hurricane Ian’s impact on residents’ ability to become code compliant within permitted timing. Non-compliant cases will be rescheduled for upcoming magistrate hearings.
Our officers maintained a strong presence patrolling the beach. Their efforts shifted to recovery tasks, focusing on beach safety, picking up hazardous material, and monitoring protected species left vulnerable by the storm. While our Community Service Officers anecdotally reported a reduction in beach visitors, they continued advising those who did visit the beach to avoid swimming and to exercise caution when walking on the shore due to harmful debris.
Code Enforcement: Water quality
During the month of October, Code Enforcement issued 22 violations for the MS4 ordinance. 17 were for silt fence violations and 5 for Illicit Discharge. Of the 22 cases, 19 were compliant, 1 was unfou
nded and 2 will be scheduled for magistrate in December.
Code Enforcement Protected Species Update
Gopher Tortoises: Community Service Officers (CSOs) were called for service concerning a Gopher Tortoise at the intersection of Yellowbird and Jamaica Road. The Tortoise was relocated safely to the other side of the road. Another Gopher Tortoise that was in the roadway on San Marco Road was relocated safely to its habitat. Sadly, a Gopher Tortoise was found deceased on Hideaway Beach; it appears it was attacked by another animal.
Audubon of Western Everglades is surveying lots in Key Marco for Gopher Tortoise burrows. Once their survey is completed, they will have an accurate number of sites for the city.
Sea Turtles: Sea Turtle nesting season ran from June 1st through October 31st. No violations were reported during October.
Burrowing Owls: 5 calls for service were for lack of silt fences on construction lots near owl burrows. All cases were handled directly by the contractors.
Contractors who did not conform promptly were issued a Notice of Violation.
2 calls for service consisted of cars or construction vehicles parked too close to the owl burrows. CSOs provided education and verbal warnings; vehicles were moved, and owners comply with the ordinance.
A vacant lot with 2 Burrowing Owl nests had a chain link fence constructed too close to the burrows. A Notice of Violation was issued to the property owner; the fence was moved back within the compliance date.
A group of owls were discovered living under a home that was being renovated. The Audubon of Western Everglades investigated the situation and concluded that the owls were not in harm’s way. Our CSOs will continue monitoring the site along with the Audubon of Western Everglades.
The remaining Burrowing Owl calls were informational with no violation or injured owls.
According to Audubon of Western Everglades there are approximately 340 properties in Marco that have owl burrows or habitats. Now is the busiest time of the year for the owls to create new habitat. Many have been observed to be paring up and decorating their nests for breeding; very early in the season for this to occur. 106 starter burrows have been developed on Marco since Audubon of Western Everglades initiated the “starter burrow” program.
Other Shore birds/wading birds: Near Residence Beach, CSOs observed individuals flushing shorebirds along the shoreline. The term “flushing” means that people disturb the birds to make them take flight. Flushing shorebirds is a code violation because the birds are on the beach to rest and feed before their next migration. Education and verbal warnings were provided to the offenders; the people complied.
CSOs picked up an injured Black Skimmer that was reported by personnel at the Marriot Hotel. The bird was safely transported to the Conservancy by an Audubon volunteer.
After the hurricane, the Marco Island Police Department (MIPD) leveraged our in-person community outreach events to check on residents and provide them with recovery resources.
On October 5th, MIPD met with community members at Coffee with a Cop. On October 7th, MIPD hosted another event called Faith and Blue, a new initiative for our community. Faith and Blue is a National program that encourages collaboration between law enforcement and local faith-based organizations. These events create opportunities for officers to engage with community members through mutually respected, non-law enforcement environment. We received a lot of positive feedback and interest from the Chaplains, and we will be creating more Faith and Blue events.
At the end of the month, our officers were happy to participate in Halloween activities with the rest of the community. Several of our officers handed out candy at the annual Trunk or Treat event held at the Wesleyan Church. At the Marco Island Parks and Recreation’s Spooktacular, officers drove children in the hay-ride cart. All of our School Resource Officers participated with their respective students at school Halloween celebrations. Our Reserve and Auxiliary members and Police Foundation members provided safety patrols for families participating in the annual Halloween trick-or-treat event near the Tommie Barfield Elementary School.
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