Cape Coral Police Department Marine Unit Removes Problem "Bulldog"

Cape Coral Police Department Marine Unit Removes Problem "Bulldog"

(July 1, 2016)-  The Cape Coral Police Department Marine Unit made boaters and some SE Cape Coral residents very happy on Tuesday afternoon after removing a derelict vessel, named "Bulldog," from a canal in the 1100 block of Lucerne Avenue.

What is a "derelict vessel?"  The phrase calls to mind images of creepy ghost ships.  Here is what the law says:

327.4107 Vessels at risk of becoming derelict on waters of this state.—
(1) To prevent vessels in neglected or deteriorating condition from reaching a likely and foreseeable state of disrepair, a vessel that is at risk of becoming derelict pursuant to subsection (2) may not anchor on, moor on, or occupy the waters of this state.
(2) An officer of the commission or of a law enforcement agency specified in s. 327.70 may determine that a vessel is at risk of becoming derelict if any of the following conditions exist:
(a) The vessel is taking on or has taken on water without an effective means to dewater.
(b) Spaces on the vessel that are designed to be enclosed are incapable of being sealed off or remain open to the elements for extended periods of time.
(c) The vessel has broken loose or is in danger of breaking loose from its anchor.
(d) The vessel is left or stored aground unattended in such a state that would prevent the vessel from getting underway, is listing due to water intrusion, or is sunk or partially sunk.
(3) A person who anchors or moors a vessel at risk of becoming derelict on the waters of this state or allows such a vessel to occupy such waters commits a noncriminal infraction, punishable as provided in s. 327.73.
(4) The penalty under this section is in addition to other penalties provided by law.
(5) This section does not apply to a vessel that is moored to a private dock or wet slip with the consent of the owner for the purpose of receiving repairs.

There are many derelict or nuisance vessels around the city and our Marine Unit is constantly checking and updating the status of these vessels.  If a vessel is determined to be derelict, the process to remove it involves working with the Lee County Sheriff's Office, FWC, US Coast Guard in some cases, and the Department of Natural Resources whose funding pays for independent salvage companies to respond and have the vessels removed. 

"It would not be an exaggeration to say that from initial call to removal of a vessel, may take many months or even years.  LCSO and FWC may have dozens of vessels on their respective lists to be removed," according to Sergeant Kurt Fundermark of the Cape Coral Police Department Marine Unit.  Limited funds and resources means that derelict vessels have to be prioritized for removal.

"Any vessel that is tied to a dock with permission of the owner cannot ever be a derelict vessel.  A vessel tied to a dock can be a code violation, and like many other things we do, it may be hard to get there on a criminal investigation, but a civil penalty can have the teeth needed to motivate people.  Looking at the legal definition, if a vessel is in that condition it is an eyesore, it decreases property values of everything around it, it endangers the environment, and could be a hazard to people and property in the area, if pieces of the vessel break away and drift to cause a navigational hazard," said Sergeant Fundermark.

The vessel in the photo below, named "Bulldog," was removed on Tuesday afternoon, had holes in the hull, holes in the cabin and previously leaked oil and gas into our waterways (which was addressed at the time by the US Coast Guard).  The three people primarily responsible for the Bulldog removal were Cape Coral Code Enforcement Todd Hoagland, Lee County Sheriff Deputy Tim Babor, and Cape Coral Police Department Marine Officer Robert Slager.  The removal of the "Bulldog" was a big win, in a long fight to keep our waterways safe and aesthetically pleasing to everyone.

PHOTO:  The derelict vessel "Bulldog" was removed from a canal in the 1100 block of Lucerne Avenue Tuesday afternoon, thanks to the cooperation of several local, state, and federal agencies.  (Photo Courtesy of Cape Coral Police Department)

PHOTO:  The derelict vessel "Bulldog" was removed from a canal in the 1100 block of Lucerne Avenue Tuesday afternoon, thanks to the cooperation of several local, state, and federal agencies.  (Photo Courtesy of Cape Coral Police Department)

###


CAPE CORAL POLICE DEPARTMENT | Public Affairs Office | 1100 Cultural Park Boulevard | Cape Coral, FL 33990 | (239) 242-3341

ANNOUNCEMENT:  Accreditation Team Invites Public Comment About the Cape Coral Police Department

ANNOUNCEMENT: Accreditation Team Invites Public Comment About the Cape Coral Police Department

(July 1, 2016)-  A team of assessors from the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) will arrive July 27, 2016, to examine all aspects of the Cape Coral Police Department's policies and procedures, management, operations, and support services, Interim Chief David Newlan announced today.  

The Cape Coral Police Department has to comply with approximately 84 Comparative Compliance standards in order to receive accredited status.  Many of the standards are critical to life, health, and safety issues. 

For more information regarding CFA or for persons wishing to offer written comments about the Cape Coral Police Departments ability to meet the standards of accreditation, please write:

CFA, P.O. Box 1489, Tallahassee, Florida 32302, or email to info@flaccreditation.org.

The Accreditation Program Manager for the Cape Coral Police Department is Det. Jennifer Silko and Accreditation Team Member Cpl. Morgan Mills.  Both said the assessment team that will visit the Cape Coral Police Department is composed of law enforcement practitioners from similar agencies.  The assessors will review written materials, interview individuals, and visit offices and other places where compliance can be observed.

The CFA Assessment Team Leader is Janet Hartman from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.  Other team members are Sergeant Ronald Concillo from Lauderhill Police Department and Sergeant Vincent Montagud from Port St. Lucie Police Department.

Once the Commission’s assessors complete their review of the agency, they report back to the full Commission, which will then decide if the agency is to receive accredited status.  Cape Coral Police Departments accreditation is for a period of 3 years.

"Verification by the team that Cape Coral Police Department meets the Commission’s standards is part of a voluntary process to gain or maintain accreditation- a highly prized recognition of law enforcement professional excellence," Interim Chief David Newlan said.

###


CAPE CORAL POLICE DEPARTMENT | Public Affairs Office | 1100 Cultural Park Boulevard | Cape Coral, FL 33990 | (239) 242-3341

Cape Coral Police Department and State Attorney Conclude Officer-Involved Shooting Justified

Cape Coral Police Department and State Attorney Conclude Officer-Involved Shooting Justified

(June 30, 2016)-  Reviews by the Cape Coral Police Department and the State Attorney’s Office into an officer-involved shooting that occurred back on October 24, 2015, have been concluded, finding the Officer’s actions justified.

The October 24th incident began as a domestic disturbance at 1518 NE 43 Ln., Rolly Thomas, 34 came to the residence where his estranged girlfriend and mother of his children, Marsha Alexander lived with their children.  Thomas was not living at the residence and Alexander had an active injunction for domestic violence and a no contact order in place against Thomas.  Thomas came to the residence and dropped off one of his children, in violation of the order.  Cape Coral Police Department responded, but Thomas left prior to Officers arriving.  Officers completed a report so that the incident could be followed-up on later.  Just before 1:00 AM, Cape Coral Police Department received another call to the residence-an open 9-1-1 line with what sounded like a domestic disturbance in progress.

As officers arrived, they knocked and announced their presence.  The front door was ajar, and one of the children at the house told officers, “He [Thomas] is here.”  Officers could hear two people arguing in a bedroom.  Seconds later a gunshot rang out and Alexander came running out with an apparent gunshot wound to the chest.  Thomas continued firing rounds towards officers through the interior walls of the house.  Officers were able to get Alexander and 3 of the children out of the home and to safety.

This began a protracted incident between Thomas and officers on scene.  Officers took positions of cover and repeatedly attempted to negotiate Thomas’s surrender.  Thomas would talk with Officers, then fire rounds at them from a pistol and a pump-action shotgun.  In spite of this, Officer Matthew Mills, a 9-year veteran, attempted to maintain a dialogue with Thomas while taking cover.  That was until Thomas, standing partially in the front doorway of the house, pointed a shotgun at officers outside the residence.  Using his department-approved patrol rifle, Officer Mills fired at Thomas, fatally wounding him.  Unbeknownst to Officer Mills, Thomas was holding his infant son, Ray, just outside of view from the doorway.

Thomas fell and withdrew into the residence.  Later, with the assistance of SWAT, Officers were able to make entry into the home.  Ray Thomas was located and taken out of the home and transported for medical treatment of a gunshot wound to the thigh.  Another child was located asleep in the home and was removed for safety.  Rolly Thomas was found deceased in the residence.

The case was investigated by the Investigative Services Bureau of the Cape Coral Police Department and turned over to the State Attorney’s Office.  At the conclusion of the criminal case, the Professional Standards Bureau conducted its internal review of the incident.

The internal review by the Professional Standards Bureau of the Cape Coral Police Department found that:

“Based on the information provided in Detective Bearman’s criminal investigation report, statements from the involved parties, witnesses, Body Worn Camera video, Medical Examiner’s autopsy report, the facts provided by the supervisors, and the statements given by the officers, and in comparison with Department General Orders, it is determined:

  • The exhibition of the firearms were justified and in accordance with training.
  • The firing of the weapon was within departmental policy.”

The review of the officer-involved shooting by the State Attorney’s Office concluded that:

“The totality of the evidence supports the conclusion that Officer Mills was justified in the use of deadly force. Thomas violated a domestic violence injunction for protection earlier in the evening which required the police to be called. Thomas returned after midnight, forced himself into the residence armed with a pistol and axe and shot Marsha Alexander. Thomas committed multiple forcible felonies as defined by F.S. §776.08 to include (but not necessarily limited to) armed burglary (F.S. §810.02(2)(b)); aggravated battery (F.S. §784.045); aggravated stalking (F.S. §§784.048(3) or (4)) and shooting at or within a dwelling (F.S. §790.l0), which could legally fall within the catch-all language of F.S. §776.08. All of the crimes alleged above carry prison sentences with some carrying additional minimum/mandatory sentences pursuant to Florida Statute §775 .087 (2015). The danger presented to innocent civilians and to the assembled police officers lawfully carrying out their duties by the actions of Rolly Thomas justified the use of deadly force by Officer Mills…”

“It is unfortunate that Ray Thomas was also shot in the leg during this incident. Thankfully, the child survived his gunshot wound. The evidence supports the logical inference that Rolly Thomas used Ray Thomas as a hostage.  At approximately 1:28 AM Rolly Thomas appeared in the front doorway holding Ray Thomas and a shotgun.  Rolly Thomas raised his shotgun towards officers outside the residence after having fired his shotgun multiple times within the residence and in close proximity to officers inside and outside the residence.  Officer Mills fired his duty rifle. It must be concluded that Mills felt this was the best opportunity to eliminate the threat that Rolly Thomas posed. The shooting of Ray Thomas does not rise to the level of criminal conduct. Officer Mills lacked mens rea, or intent, to cause great bodily harm against Ray Thomas for the purposes of aggravated battery (F.S. §784.045).  Additionally, given the heightened danger posed by Rolly Thomas’ behavior, it is concluded that Officer Mills did not commit culpable negligence (F.S. §784.05)…Officer Mills was justified in using deadly force in order to quell the dangers posed by Rolly Thomas during the early morning hours of October 24, 2015.  For the reasons set forth above, there is no basis for further action by this office.  This matter should be closed.”

From Interim Police Chief Dave Newlan:

“The actions of Rolly Thomas on October 24, 2015 were nothing short of horrific.  He went to the home that evening armed with a gun and an axe with the intent to kill.  The quick actions of the first officers on scene no doubt saved the lives of Marsha Alexander and the first 3 children rescued from the home.  The officers did everything they could to engage Rolly Thomas and negotiate a peaceful surrender and the safety of the remaining 2 children, even as he shot at them.  Unfortunately, Rolly Thomas chose differently.

Without regard for anyone, Thomas continued his armed assault, pointing a shotgun at officers outside the home, placing them in imminent, mortal danger.  Officer Matthew Mills, a 9-year veteran of the Cape Coral Police Department, was one of the officers faced with this threat that night.  The taking of a life is something we all hope will never happen in our career in law enforcement.  Sometimes the actions of a suspect leave us no choice.  This was one of those times.  Under immediate threat from Thomas and his shotgun, Officer Mills took advantage of a limited tactical window and shot Rolly Thomas as he pointed that shotgun from a partially concealed position in the front doorway of the home.  Officer Mills took the only shot he had.  He did his job and stopped the threat. Unknown at the time, Rolly Thomas was actually holding his infant son, Ray, in one arm as he shot at officers with the other.  Sadly, Ray was injured in the gun battle. Thankfully we were able to get to him and get him medical attention.  Make no mistake, everything that happened that night was the direct result of choices made by Rolly Thomas.

The community was shaken by this tragic incident.  A family was destroyed.  Marsha and Ray will carry the physical scars for the rest of their lives.  An officer was forced to take a life.  The physical and mental healing is underway, but it will take time.  The Cape Coral Police Department will continue to help and support Marsha and the children through our Victim Assistance Unit in whatever way we can.  Officer Mills is back to work, doing what he took an oath to do, with the full support of this Department and this community.”

The victims continue to recover from the injuries they sustained that night.  Officer Mills has returned to full duty here at the Cape Coral Police Department.

Link to previous news release: UPDATE: Name of Suspect From Weekend Shooting Released

Link to letter from State Attorney, Steve Russel: PDF

###


CAPE CORAL POLICE DEPARTMENT | Public Affairs Office | 1100 Cultural Park Boulevard | Cape Coral, FL 33990 | (239) 242-3341