Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sheriff's office to be HQ for drug drop off

MANATEE -  Starting Jan. 3 Manatee residents can dispose of any unused prescription medication at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, 600 301 Blvd. W, according to a media release.
The drop off is a part of the Citizen Medication Collection Program, which allows people to bring medication to the front desk of the sheriff’s office 24 hours a day.
“We don’t have an end date, people can come in day or night,” said Dave Bristow, spokesman for the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office has held several prescription drug drop-off events throughout the year, and according to Bristow officials are hoping that an around-the-clock drop-off location will encourage more people to safely dispose of their medications.
“The prescription drug problem is getting out of hand and people are doing whatever they can to get it,” Bristow said.
Bristow stressed that “any excess prescription medication you may have for whatever reason or any outdated medication you need to get rid of,” should be dropped off so it doesn’t get to anyone who would abuse it.
 No liquid medications will be accepted as a part of this program, and the sheriff’s office does ask that medication be placed in a clear plastic bag.
Bags will be available at the sheriff’s office.
Anyone with questions about the program can call the sheriff’s office at (941)747-3011 ext. 2278.
- Paradise Afshar 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gang census shows Manatee has 516 members

MANATEE - The Attorney General's Office has released a new census documenting 56,200 gang members, associates and other suspects statewide.

Of those, 516 are members residing in Manatee County in 2010, according to Manatee County Sheriff's Office. There are 45 associates and an estimated 150 suspected gang members who are not documented, said sheriff's office Gang Unit Sgt. Gary Combee.

Manatee County has a total of 21 documented gangs including several motorcycle gangs and Aryan Brotherhood.

There have been three gangs that have undergone RICO prosecution: Brown Pride Locos, Third Shift and SUR-13.

Statewide, there was a 1.7 percent decrease in the number of gang members - 30,796, but all other figures increased including the number of gangs documents and the number of law enforcement agencies reporting figures.

In Sarasota County, there were 400 documented gang members and 95 associates from a total of five gangs.

Read the full story in Thursday's Bradenton Herald.

- Beth Burger

Monday, December 13, 2010

Local law enforcement agencies are tweeting

Add your friends. Follow people who share your interests.

And now, you can follow the Bradenton Police Department on Twitter @BradentonPolice.

Recently, the department started tweeting updates to followers as a new way to communicate with the community about department news and local crime cases.

Manatee County Sheriff's Office also has a Twitter account -- @ManateeSheriff -- with 315 followers to date. The agency began tweeting in July 2009.

Off-duty Bradenton officers to Christmas shop with children

BRADENTON  - Bradenton Police Department officers will shop with approximately 100 children this week as part of a partnership with Kingdom Life Christian Church.

The event, Honoring the Badge, allows children from underprivileged working families to shop with officers for Christmas.

Off-duty officers in uniform will begin shopping with children using $25 gift cards at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Toys R' Us, 512 Cortez Road.

The children are selected by community leaders and the gift cards are funded through donations.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DNA a factor in several recent criminal cases in Manatee

Crime-fighting science continues to play a major role in major cases with ties to Manatee County.

Last year, it was revealed that a backlog in a federal database delayed a possible match between evidence found at Sarasota crime scenes and the DNA of convicted felon Delmer Smith III, which had been taken from him while he was in prison for an earlier bank robbery conviction..

During that lag time, a Manatee woman, Kathleen Briles, was beaten to death in her home, a slaying for which Smith was later charged -- and a slaying that local officials say might have been prevented if a DNA match had been made earlier.

More recently, we saw what can happen when the DNA database system works as designed.

Kevin L. Fortune on Friday was charged with sexual battery after detectives say his DNA was matched with evidence from a May 2008 rape case in Bradenton. He was already in jail on charges related to a separate case from June 2009.

And on Tuesday, Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Willie Lee Shannon of Ellenton, after learning he was wanted in Las Vegas for murder, kidnapping and sexual assault in 1981.

The key evidence in the case, according to authorities, was Shannon's own DNA, after it was matched with semen recovered just last month from the underwear of the 18-year-old victim, Jamey Walker.

Police and prosecutors use DNA to link suspects with crimes. But defense lawyers also use it as they try to clear their clients.

For example, the Innocence Project of Florida earlier this year released DNA test results it says clear a Palmetto man, Derrick Williams, of a 1992 kidnapping and rape in Manatee County. Williams is serving life in prison, as a motion to vacate his sentence remains pending.

-- Marc R. Masferrer

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Oxycodone is the leading cause of drug overdose deaths locally

Oxycodone was the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in Sarasota, Manatee and Desoto counties in the first half of 2010, according to an interim report issued Thursday.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida Medical Examiners released the report examining approximately 89,800 deaths in Florida between January and June of this year.

Out of those deaths, 4,150 people were found to have died with one or more drugs in their bodies.

Drugs that were ruled as the cause of death in the 12thMedical Examiner District, which includes Manatee County, are as follows:

  • Oxycodone:  46 deaths
  • Alprazolam:  38 deaths
  • Methadone: 25 deaths
  • Cocaine: 20 deaths
  • Diazepam:  11 deaths
  • Morphine: 5 deaths
  • Hydrocodone:  4 deaths
  • Propoxyphene: 1 death
  • Heroin: 1 death

Statewide, the drugs that caused the most deaths were Oxycodone (715); all Benzodiazepines (597); which includes Alprazolam, also known as Xanax, (439) accounting for a majority of deaths; Methadone (336); Ethyl Alcohol (270); and cocaine (250), according to a released statement.

“Medical Examiners Commission report for the first six months of 2010 continues to show the lethal consequences of the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs,” said Bruce Grant, director of the Governor's Office of Drug Control in a released statement.  “This new drug crisis rivals the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s. We must get agencies at all levels of government along with our communities and our medical professionals to step up and take action.”

In many cases multiple drugs were found in decedents' bodies, according to report, showing people sometimes died from a combination of drugs. 

Statewide, heroin is the most lethal drug in the report, however, cases decreased by 40 percent compared to the last six months of 2009. Occurrences of Oxycodone increased by 10.9 percent for the same time period, according to the report.