Bag Full of Drugs
Florida Highway Patrol pulled over two Florida men on I-10 in the Panhandle the other day. After finding out one of them had a warrant, he called for backup. The Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Department responded and brought a K-9, who alerted on the vehicle. The search revealed, among other things, two bags conveniently labeled “BAG FULL OF DRUGS”. The bags were full of drugs.
The men were charged with multiple counts of drug trafficking, drug possession and possession of paraphernalia. Notably, officers recovered some 1.36 kilograms of GHB, often called the “Date Rape Drug”. Only in Florida…
Clearly… not the most successful criminals out there. The drug trafficking charges alone carry sentences of up to 30 years in prison, and have associated mandatory minimum sentences. Not only is it not a good idea to carry your contraband in a bag that alerts to it’s illegal content… it’s probably not a good idea to be flying down the highway going nearly 100 mph, as these guys were when they got pulled over.
The Tampa Bay Times has uncovered an email from an FHP supervisor instructing his troopers to write more tickets. “The patrol wants to see two citations each our…” reads the email from Major Mark Welch. He and FHP deny this is a quota, which would be in violation of state law: but this is a quota. He sets a minimum number of tickets he expects his underlings to write per hour. That’s exactly a quota. The fact that he says “This is not a quota” does not redefine what a quota is.
To make matters worse, there may be benefits tied to the number of tickets officers write. Troopers in Miami-Dade were given additional weekend passes when they met ticket-writing goals earlier this year. FHP ended that policy when it was exposed. It seems this new quota is tied to ‘SOAR’, an overtime program, though that program appears to incentivize them to work more hours, not to inflate their ticket numbers. Big brother is most definitely watching.
Gov. Rick Scott
Governor Rick Scott announced this week that he is seeking a budget allocation to increase the pay of correctional officers and probation officers. These officers are surprisingly underpaid, starting at under $30,000, which has made it difficult to fill positions and retain officers. The State doesn’t even provide a firearm to probation officers that have to go out in the field to visit felons.
A few weeks ago he also announced that he is seeking a raise for state law enforcement officers, including FHP troopers, as well as FDLE, FWC and other agencies. The requested raise is modest, but probably overdue. I was speaking to some officers in court recently, and was surprised to see troopers leaving FHP to work in local departments, but the financial incentive was just too great. Fair pay is essential for maintaining the quality of our law enforcement officers.
The pay raises will still have to be discussed during the upcoming budget negotiations, and are far from a done deal. Not only is there concern of a deficit, Governor Scott is hoping to cut the budget by over $600 million. Some tough decisions will have to be made, but the law enforcement and corrections raises need to come sooner than later.
The News Press reports that the “Wolfpack” operation targeting impaired drivers by the FHP will continue tonight. As always, don’t drink and drive, and be safe out there as you celebrate your holiday.
The Florida Highway Patrol has announced they will be running a DUI operation in Lee County on Friday, May 22. The news article says checkpoint, but apparently it is a “wolfpack” operation where they do saturation patrols. Big brother is watching: don’t drink and drive. Everybody be safe the Memorial Weekend!
FHP Trooper Robert Purser set up a company for his side business of scheduling off-duty troopers for details closing down roads. That was legit; but over-billing the construction companies was not. Authorities allege Purser over-billed by more than $200,000 over several years. Purser was dismissed by the agency Wednesday, after 23 years of service.
My first take upon seeing the headline, that billing issues sound more like a civil contract issue than a criminal issue. But delving further, the state may have enough information to show legitimate fraudulent activity. They served the warrant back in January of 2012, and allege that they found fake invoices at his home for work that was never done. That may be consistent with criminal fraud. The article doesn’t indicate whether the trooper was still working in the year-and-a-half-plus that he was being investigated. That could be a lot of cases out the window.
Noticed a lot of FHP cruisers patroling I-75 and elsewhere today in Southwest Florida. Anybody heard about any stepped up enforcement details? Perhaps they are just breaking in the recently graduated academy class… Continue reading
Posted in Florida, Police
Tagged fhp, police
NBC-2 did a story on the Florida Highway Patrol’s use of airborne surveillance to catch speeders on I-75. The trooper is correct when he states that it is very hard to challenge such speeding tickets. There is no equipment to calibrate, since it is done via stopwatch. The key thing to remember from this post is to drive cautiously. Much of I-75 is under construction, and that can lead to enhanced fines if workers are present. And as you can see from the NBC screen capture, the troopers are just lining up, waiting to bust people.
FHP Troopers from NBC-2 Story