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No Drones Over Flagler, Sheriff Pledges, as He Details 16 Arrests from Latest Drug Sweep

| March 26, 2013

Sheriff Jim Manfre, with Lt. Chris Seppe and Undersheriff Rick Staly, speaking of 'Operation Spring Cleaning' at a lightly attended news conference Tuesday. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Sheriff Jim Manfre, with Lt. Chris Seppe and Undersheriff Rick Staly, speaking of ‘Operation Spring Cleaning’ at a lightly attended news conference Tuesday. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Don’t expect Flagler County Sheriff’s drones in local skies over the next four years. Nor will Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre look to buy police drones, as other Florida police agencies have been doing (especially in South Florida), in the next four years.

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“I will not,” Manfre said, in direct response to a question about his intentions before the county commission, describing himself as “not thrilled about the use of drones” as the Florida Senate prepares this week to approve a bill that would put severe restrictions on drones’ use in civilian areas. “That’s not something that I believe this community would be in favor of. I understand the visceral reactions to that, and to be honest with you, as I said before, I think there are better techniques that are tried and true and have worked over the years and will continue to work in the future.”

What Manfre had said moments before is that he still believes that “ultimately it is good policing work, surveillance work, intelligence, that ultimately will make a good case. I think drones have their place potentially for homeland security purposes, but in terms of good investigative work, I don’t think any technology is superior to that.”

Manfre was making the remarks in the context of a brief news conference he called on Tuesday afternoon to announce the results of the latest drug sweep across the county. Sheriff after sheriff has conducted such sweeps—and generally followed them up with news conferences, to highlight them and garner a little publicity—for decades, even as the recurrence of the sweeps and their attendant theater underscores the endurance of a problem neither police nor courts have done more than contain.

Still, the sweeps can at least shed light on local trends: what drugs are in the ascendant, what drugs are on the wane. Tuesday’s sweep, dubbed “Operation Spring Cleaning,” netted 16 arrests from 26 felony warrants, involving suspects from every part of the county, following tips tendered by residents about their neighbors, or activity they reported from their neighborhoods. The sweep involved 25 cops, including school resource deputies (who are off from their normal school duties this week, for spring break, but are still on the job) and Bunnell police.

The sweep revealed two distinct trends: judging from the charges against those arrested, the use of prescription pills is down. The use of crack cocaine is up. Of the 26 warrants, 14 involved sale of crack, six involved prescription pill or morphine. The sheriff did not give a cause for the changing trends, except to suggest that as the state crackdown on pills and pill mills went into effect last year, drug sellers and users followed the rules of supply and demand.

“We intend to do these sweeps on a regular basis to try to impress upon the users in this community that we are ever vigilant about the usage of these types of narcotics in the neighborhoods,” Manfre said, But he acknowledged the limits of enforcement, and the revolving-door nature of such arrests.

Several of the individuals arrested Tuesday had already been freed by the time of the news conference, on bond. Jan Casiano, 21, of Fieldstone Lane in Palm Coast, was arrested on a marijuana sale charge. He’d already posted $1,500 bond. And he’d been booked at the jail just last June on a misdemeanor failure-to-appear charge.

Cmdr. Paul Bovino. (© FlaglerLive)

Cmdr. Paul Bovino. (© FlaglerLive)

Lance Lohman, 22, made his fifth trip to the jail Tuesday on a cocktail of charges (marijuana sale, oxycodone trafficking, possession of a controlled substance without prescription), but the Flagler Beach resident had posted bond and was out by early afternoon. His previous arrests were for similar charges, except for a battery charge in 2011. Patrick Cadet, 34, of Bren Mar Lane in palm Coast, was arrested on a marijuana possession charge (under 20 grams) and an evidence tampering charge, his first arrest in Flagler. He posted $5,000 bond and was released. Joseph Bourke, 25, had been booked at the county jail 10 times since 2008, mostly on minor charges, but also on a DUI. His 11th booking took place today, on a probation violation charge and selling a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school. He remained in jail this afternoon, his bond set at $10,0000.

And so on. (See the full list of suspects below.)

“What you’re doing is you’re not only building a case in this particular instance, but you’re building a case over years of time,” Manfre said. “What judges respond to is not only the seriousness of these crimes but the amount of times they’ve violated those specific terms. So each time they’ve violated, each time they go through the system, the court will give them more and more sentencing, and that is what ultimately, hopefully, deters them from committing crimes in the future. A lot of time you just get out of state prison and start all over again. In fact we talked about it today, there’s some people who we arrested when I was a sheriff eight years ago. So this is an imperfect system, but this is the best tool we have.”

Paul Bovino, commander of the patrol division and a veteran of many of these sweeps, said of suspects swept up in such arrests: “They still take it seriously. A lot of these people may be habitual, or offenders that are out on probation, and by them getting arrested again, a lot of them could go back for a long period of time. They could go to prison, or extend their stays. Many of these people have been repeat offenders, so once you’re picked up again, you’re looking at more jail time or some prison time.”

Manfre defended the sweeps as means of preserving quality of life. “If you’re living next to someone who’s dealing marijuana, pills, cocaine, whatever it is, what that normally means, regardless of what it is they’re selling, is increase activity of some unsavory people, coming into your neighborhood,” he said. “That frightens people who live in our neighborhoods, frightens parents who have young kids. It also leads to increased crime in those particular neighborhoods. A lot of time they’re coming in for drugs, a crime is a matter of opportunity, if they see an opportunity to burglarize a home or a car to get the revenue to make that purchase, it’s more likely to happen in those neighborhoods.”

The sheriff is emphasizing the value of tips from the public, all of which are investigated to one degree or another. “We tend not to want to harass people,” Lt. Chris Seppe, an investigator, said. “There’s things we can do without making direct contact through investigative measures, surveillance and other things that I’m not necessarily going to mention. But not face to face contacts. So we know the scope of the law, we know what we can and cannot do. We tend not to be in the business of harassing people.”

Flagler County Operations Spring Cleaning, Drug Arrests

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21 Responses for “No Drones Over Flagler, Sheriff Pledges, as He Details 16 Arrests from Latest Drug Sweep”

  1. Alex says:

    We keep arresting them, they get bailed out in no time, get a plea bargain in court, we incarcerate them for a short while.

    The process keep going on and on and on at the taxpayer’s expense.

    Is this is the best American brains can come up with to address this drug problem?

    We can’t be too smart.

    Just in case, you have not noticed, we are not winning but losing this war on drugs and spending billions on it nationwide.

    I just had to express my frustration.

    • joesph says:

      If you were arrested would you like to be innocent until proven guilty? when you get arrested you are sitting in jail until you see the judge. If you can come up with the bond amount you are able to leave jail, and the money is leverage for you to show up at your court date.

      most get a plea deal, and end up on probation. which cost the taxpayers nearly nothing. those on probation have to pay $50 a month, which is the cost of supervision, court costs, fines, rehab programs, AA meetings, and many hours of community service.

      this is the best option, rather than flooding the over crowded prisons with low risk non violent criminals.

      I guy busted with a little mary jane doesn’t belond in prison.

      we will never win the “war on drugs”

  2. confidential says:

    Good job Sheriff!
    Nice to see around our deputies patrolling our streets now!

  3. Stevie says:

    Oh….we can trust the Sheriff…..sure….go ask Alice.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Now will the courts take YEARS to process these cases like other cases that are on file????

  5. Nudton says:

    No Drones ????? Oh Great, and I was so looking forward to daily air surveillance of my residence. I guess nude badminton games are no longer going to be as much fun as they could have been.

  6. B says:

    Way to go Sheriff Manfre! It’s about time we finally got a Sheriff in office that is focused on getting the bad guys off the streets and not getting his friend’s wife off for murder!

  7. Samuel Smith says:

    It is good that these dangerous, dangerous offenders are off of the street. How’s that Rosado murder investigation going?

  8. Julie says:

    Glad to see the pills and crack off the streets. But, we really need to decriminalize marijuana use and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. There is too much money and resources being spent in non-violent marijuana possession crimes.

  9. Anonymous says:

    If it weren’t for informants the sheriffs office wouldn’t catch any of these drug offenders. How about getting some real investigative work done and solve the 2 recent murders in palm coast, or all the burglaries that go unsolved? Glad you’re getting people off the streets temporarily but I would be more impressed with a murder conviction.

  10. Reality Check says:

    Our system is screwed, we keep arresting thsese people and they bond out before lunch? $1,500 dollars does not seem like a lot of money for a drug dealer, probably had that on him. Why dont we make in 25K cash no bond, how about no bail for the hibitual offenders, we are our own worst enemy when it comes to these problems

  11. anonymous says:

    I love what the Sheriff’s Office has done. They’re just like the school teachers having to fix everybody else’s mess and problems before they graduate to Prison. I have two rhetorical questions – Who manufactures pills? Is cocaine made in this country? We all know the answers. The work to clean up the drug trade must start at the top. The Sheriffs Office has to do on a local level what the Government is not doing Country wide. No, not lettings local dealers deal and then go pick them up, the outside sources need to be cut-off. It’s the same game with immigration let them in the country use them up than blame them for coming here. Let the drugs in people deal people get hooked and then blame the people at the bottom while the heavy weights keep getting fat. Sheriffs Office still did a good job. Nancy Regan was given the “Say No To Drugs” slogan and campaign her husband and Bush had a war on drugs meanwhile they were the ones letting drugs come in the US to finance the CONTRA WARS in South America that congress would not finance. That in turn forced them to try to rectify the situation by building more prisons tougher laws on a problem they created and made money off of and continue to make money.

  12. Deep South says:

    Why do they allow these criminals to use their drug money to bail themselves out of jail.? You know they couldn’t afford to get out any other way.

  13. christina b says:

    By all means, please continue battling the poisons of crack and cocaine, and those who market them along with heroin and pills. And thank you, Sheriff Manfre, for declining the unconstitutional use of “drones” to spy on our citizens.

    But for God’s sake, the reefer madness has to end. Stop prosecuting people whose only “crime” is that they SMOKE POT. They are no more criminals than anyone who drinks alcohol. This is all about pee testing–people need to get a clue about the lies about marijuana being a “gateway drug” and understand that it’s ALL ABOUT $$$$.

  14. John says:

    Looks like Sheriff Jim Manfre is implementing/using the Broken Windows Theory that was very popular and succesfully used by fame Police Commisioner William J. Bratton…..the theory focuses on “Quality of Life”

  15. Maxi says:

    “We tend not to be in the business of harassing people.” Huh!

  16. downinthelab says:

    I can’t believe I get to be the first to comment on the drones at the city council meetings.

    Have you seen them?

    They are at the front of the room, facing the audience!

  17. Dlee says:

    I agree with Christina b on the fact that there is to much time and money being spent on the arrest
    of people who are smoking pot. The Crime in the area is caused by alcohol and hard drugs. Anyone
    smoking marijuana is usually home chillin out on the couch, not bothering anyone. It does not provoke
    outrage or the kind of corruption that is caused by drinking or other drugs. I believe that well more then
    half the calls to 911 for domestic violence or abuse is because someone is under the influence of alcohol.
    I think it’s time for our county to start putting funds into programs and treatment facilities to address the
    issues of the drug users. They are repeated offenders because the jail dosen’t have the means to address
    their needs, both mentally and physically. Addiction is a vicious cycle and I don’t believe that more jail time
    or prison helps the individual. Especially when are jails are already over the max for detention. The criminal
    minded people should be dealt with according to the crime. The drug addict should be dealt with for addiction in addition to his criminal behavior. Just my thoughts !!

  18. I wonder says:

    I wonder how often the police get domestic violence calls involving pot….? My guess is probably never…

  19. Whodat says:

    It was social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling that introduced the article in 1982 for the Police Foundation. It was Philip Zimbardo, a Stanford psychologist, who first tried it out on a Bronx street and Palo Alto, California in 1969.

    Basically, the Theory surmises that when something is broken it be fixed or the neighborhood will deteriorate, or for that matter, any institution.

    The Theory has it’s detractors. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliane instituted cleaning up quality of life issues in NYC when he was Mayor with successful results but violatng civil liberties such as the NYPD’s current stop & frisk procedures.

    What Bratton is credited with is Comp Stat or computer aided crime. It was already in place years before with colored pins on a map but computers modernized it.

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