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Attorney General Bill McCollum Press Release
Attorney General Names 2007 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year
~ Special Agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is fifth recipient of annual award ~
TALLAHASSEE, FL - Attorney General Bill McCollum today named Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Tammy Roane of Ft. Pierce as the recipient of the Attorney General's Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award for 2007. Special Agent Roane was joined by nine fellow officers from around the state at a ceremony recognizing them for their dedication to law enforcement and their protection of the public. In addition to recognizing the nominees, the Attorney General also asked for a moment of recognition for the 16 men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty last year as well as the one officer who was killed in a gang shooting earlier this year.
“Every single day, our men and women in the law enforcement community put their lives on the line to protect us, our families, our communities and our state,” Attorney McCollum said at today’s ceremony honoring the nominees. “We owe these fine individuals so much more than we could ever repay them and I am proud to be able to recognize the best of the best here today.”
In naming Special Agent Roane as this year’s award recipient, Attorney McCollum praised her dedication to investigating several far-reaching criminal cases in the Treasure Coast area. In conjunction with multiple agencies, her investigative work helped dismantle a violent cocaine trafficking ring tied to a local street gang. The gang was responsible for the distribution and sale of more than 45 kilograms of cocaine per month in St. Lucie County. Forty-two individuals were arrested on various drug and weapon charges. Drugs, weapons, vehicles and almost $200,000 in cash were also seized. A second drug trafficking case in Indian River and Broward counties resulted in the arrest of 28 suspects, with 18 individuals facing federal charges. Significant amounts of crack and powder cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and illicit prescription drugs were seized, as well as firearms and more than $41,000 in cash.
Special Agent Roane also played an important role in investigating the execution-style murder of a family of four by the side of the Turnpike in St. Lucie County. For two weeks, she worked almost non-stop on this case with local, state and federal authorities. She coordinated the collection and analysis of wireless phone records which provided probable cause for wire intercepts on the suspects’ cell phones. This led to the discovery of evidence tying the adult victims to illegal cocaine trafficking, which in turn identified the murder suspects. Three suspects have been arrested on federal narcotics and other charges while the homicide investigation continues.
Each nominee for the Attorney General’s award had previously been recognized as an “Officer of the Year” by a Florida law enforcement agency or organization that sponsors such a statewide award. Special Agent Roane was nominated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Law Enforcement Chiefs Association. A selection committee appointed by the Attorney General considered the distinguished group of nominees from state agencies and organizations including the Florida Sheriff’s Association, the Florida Police Chiefs Association, the State Law Enforcement Chiefs Association, and the Florida Retail Federation.
Special Agent Roane is the fifth recipient of the Attorney General’s annual award. Last year’s recipient was Detective Sergeant James Contento of the Tampa Police Department. The recipient in 2005 was Detective Kevin Kuschel of the Palm Beach County School District Police Department. In 2004, Tallahassee Police Officer Chuck Perry received the award, and Marion County Deputy Sheriff Mike Rolls was honored as the first recipient of the award in 2003.
A list of the other nominees and their accomplishments follows:
Nominated by the Department of Financial Services, Division of State Fire Marshal – DFS Detective Thomas Barron of Panama City
Detective Barron is recognized by his agency and peers as a superior fire and arson investigator. During the last year, 56 percent of his cases were closed by arrest, well above the 18 percent national average. He is the Northwest Region’s accelerant K-9 handler and the Training Coordinator. He also serves on the agency’s Forensic Investigative Support Team, which is activated for major fires in the state.
In 2007, Detective Barron went undercover and infiltrated the homeless community in Panama City to investigate a series of arsons in the area. The operation led to the arrest of a serial arsonist who admitted to setting more than 30 fires throughout the state and told investigators he would not have stopped until caught.
Nominated by the Florida Retail Federation – Detective Sgt. Daniel J. Carron of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Having worked more than three decades with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Detective Carron has developed a talent for identifying suspicious behavior. He supervises the Tactical Apprehension and Control Unit of the Property Crimes Division, which employs special investigative techniques to solve property crimes.
Detective Carron is responsible for breaking up two shoplifting rings which were targeting home improvement stores. In one case, a woman asked him if he wanted to purchase a store gift card from her and his astute observation and quick thinking led to the apprehension of three suspects who admitted involvement in a multi-state shoplifting ring responsible for up to $100,000 in thefts. In another investigation, Detective Carron and his team conducted a six-month operation culminating in the arrest of more than ten suspects thought to be responsible for as much as $500,000 in thefts at home improvement stores in the state.
Nominated by the Florida Department of Transportation, Office of Motor Carrier Compliance – FDOT Officer Michael Croft of Tallahassee
Officer Croft enforces the state’s laws and federal regulations regarding commercial motor carrier use and safety and inspects drivers, trucks and loads to ensure compliance. In 2007, Officer Croft performed 525 inspections, resulting in the removal of 60 unfit commercial drivers and 89 unsafe vehicles from the highway. Additionally, he has issued more than 500 traffic and civil citations worth more than $58,000 in fines to operators of overloaded and unsafe trucks. He also made 45 arrests, of which seven were for DUI. Exhibiting the highest standards of professionalism, Officer Croft recently received an award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his work to make Florida’s roadways safer for its drivers.
Nominated by the Florida Sheriff’s Association – Detective Brian Hester of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office
Detective Hester of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office is a firearms and use-of-force instructor, a verbal judo instructor and a member of the SWAT team. Recently, Detective Hester proposed a plan to target the leader and main members of the 13th Street gang, a violent street gang believed to be responsible for several homicides, robberies, narcotics trafficking and other violent crimes throughout the Fort Pierce area. Detective Hester was the lead investigator for the Sheriff’s Office, enlisting the assistance of multiple agencies. Detective Hester’s diligence, hard work and investigative expertise played an important role in the successful execution of the operation. At the conclusion of the case, 37 individuals were arrested and authorities seized nearly $200,000 in cash, vehicles worth approximately $300,000, firearms and a large amount of cocaine. Thirteen criminals were found guilty of federal charges and received prison sentences ranging from four years to life.
Nominated by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud – DFS Detective Theodore Padich of West Palm Beach
Over the past several years, Detective Padich has become an expert in the field of mortgage fraud, a growing criminal trend which has severe financial impacts on citizens and communities as well as banking and lending institutions. His vision, initiative and innovation have resulted in the development of a streamlined system to investigate mortgage fraud and his ability to effectively utilize his agency’s resources and contacts within the mortgage industry recently led to the conviction of seven criminals and $2.7 million in court-ordered restitution. Detective Padich is currently investigating additional fraudulent activity which could be worth more than $27 million.
Nominated by the Department of Environmental Protection – DEP Officer Donald “Scott” Peters of Crawfordville
Patrolling John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park in Key Largo, one of the most visited state parks in Florida, Officer Peters exemplifies his agency’s values of fairness, commitment to excellence, honesty and teamwork. His keen investigative skills were a key factor in recovering over $100,000 in fines from lawbreakers who caused serious damage to the unique natural resources of the Florida Keys. Officer Peters’ efforts recently led to the arrests of three suspects responsible for a string of auto burglaries at the park. He also frequently assists the U.S. Coast Guard with Cuban refugees, providing first aid on several occasions, and he has been instrumental in implementing security procedures which curtailed the use of the park’s boat ramp by smugglers.
Nominated by the Florida Highway Patrol – Trooper Edward P. Pope of Venice
Trooper Pope has the distinction of being the only trooper ever selected as “Trooper of the Month” three times in one year for his acts of bravery and excellence in police work. While operating stationary radar in Charlotte County, Trooper Pope was informed of a suspected stolen vehicle parked on the roadside. His subsequent investigation revealed that the vehicle was stolen from Fairfield County, Ohio, and led to the discovery of a trailer and a large quantity of equipment stolen from an Ohio Home Depot as well as a case of motor vehicle insurance fraud involving the suspect and another individual.
Following a “Be on the Look-out” notice on a particular vehicle, Trooper Pope’s attention to detail resulted in the arrest of the vehicle owner for felony possession of marijuana. On another occasion, Trooper Pope’s determination and quick thinking helped locate a suicidal individual and get emergency medical assistance before tragedy occurred. In yet another incident, while working a traffic accident on Interstate 75, Trooper Pope single-handedly removed two men from a sinking vehicle and brought them both to safety.
Nominated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the State Law Enforcement Chiefs Association – FWCC Officer Michael “Brad” Stanley of Crystal River
Officer Stanley patrols Florida’s vast woodlands and waters to protect the state’s natural resources, as well as the users of those resources. Usually working alone in remote areas, he is presented with unique challenges on a daily basis which require quick thinking, adaptability and initiative. During the past year, Officer Stanley contacted more than 2,600 resource users, hunters and anglers and conducted 571 vessel inspections which resulted in 480 citations.
In one particular incident, Officer Stanley found a pedestrian lying in a roadside ditch and although the man couldn’t speak English, Officer Stanley was able to determine he was a hit-and-run victim. Officer Stanley obtained a description of the vehicle, located the driver, and apprehended him for DUI and leaving the scene of an accident with injury. Another incident involved a major boating accident on the St. Johns River where Officer Stanley successfully coordinated manpower and equipment during search and recovery efforts. A third situation involved a fatal motor vehicle accident on Interstate 10 where Officer Stanley was the first on the scene and was able to provide life-saving first aid to several injured people until additional emergency medical assistance arrived.
Nominated by the Fraternal Order of Police and the Florida Police Chiefs Association – Officer Charles Turco of the Boynton Beach Police Department
As a five-year member of the Boynton Beach Police Department, Officer Turco is currently assigned as a DUI Task Force Officer in the Uniformed Services Division.
In 2007, Officer Turco was the first to arrive at the scene of a residential fire. Without hesitation and at grave personal risk, he entered the burning building and rescued a disabled elderly woman from her smoke and flame-engulfed apartment, saving her life. Some months later, while on routine patrol, Officer Turco observed a man exposing himself near a city park frequented by children, and apprehended the offender, preventing the further victimization of any children.
Officer Turco regularly puts himself in harm’s way to protect those around him. Recently, while responding to a report of a large fight, Officer Turco found a police officer about to be violently attacked by one of the people involved. His immediate action brought the subject under control, preventing injury to the officer and effectively ending the affray. On another occasion, Officer Turco helped apprehend an armed carjacker who was shooting at pursuing law enforcement officers, endangering them and the motorists on the highway. Officer Turco engaged the suspect in gunfire, ultimately ending the stand-off without injury to innocent civilians and officers. Officer Turco was selected as “Officer of the Month” by his peers three times in one year and has received his department’s Combat Cross for Heroism and the Lifesaving Medal. He has been recognized by Mothers Againt Drunk Driving and the State Attorney’s Office of the 15th Judicial Circuit for his work.