Sheriff Mascara summarizes Sheriff's Office accomplishments in 2009
The year 2009 was one in which your St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office worked harder than ever to ensure the safety and security of the community while conserving taxpayer dollars.
Two and a half years ago, drug traffickers slaughtered a family of four beside Florida's Turnpike, across the roadway from a Port St. Lucie golf course community. In March 2009, the killers were tried in federal court, found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.
Others who were involved were found guilty and given lengthy prison terms.
It is extremely unusual for a federal judge to issue a death sentence. In the case of the Escobedo family murders, two defendants received the ultimate penalty. The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office was the primary investigative agency.
The people of our county can be proud of the dedication, perseverance and professionalism of the investigators and civilian support personnel whose hard work led to the arrest of the murderers two weeks after the bodies of their victims were found on Oct. 13, 2006.
In January 2009, we worked with the Fort Pierce Police Department and Port St. Lucie Police Department to break up a well organized identity theft ring that resolved 300 identity theft cases.
In February, our jail system earned reaccreditation from the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission. This achievement documented our jail's compliance with all 247 jail standards. With the help of more than 200 community volunteers, we were able to provide for the religious needs of our jail inmates.
In April, deputies capped a three-month undercover investigation of drug dealing at the Hot Stop in Fort Pierce and made numerous arrests including that of the owner of the business.
In June, working with a number of other law agencies, six members of the Zoe Pound drug dealing gang of Fort Pierce were arrested.
Throughout the year, deputies arrested drug dealers and traffickers throughout St. Lucie County.
In 2009, we arrested pimps, prostitutes and unlicensed building contractors who used the craigslist.com web site to advertise for customers.
The School Resource Deputy program keeps our schools safe for children, teachers, administrators and the public.
With the help of the Board of County Commissioners in 2009, we were able to renew and strengthen our commitment to this vital program at a time when other law agencies in St. Lucie County were withdrawing from or reducing their commitment to the program.
In 2009, we expanded our year-round practice of checking compliance with laws prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages to those under 21. More than one-fourth of businesses were found out of compliance.
The goal of our enforcement efforts is to prevent the loss of life or serious injury caused by teens driving while intoxicated. Last year we saw tragic examples of this in Martin and Palm Beach counties.
In June, the Florida Police and Fire Games returned to the Treasure Coast, bringing millions of dollars to our area. St. Lucie County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Garry R. Wilson was the chairman of the Games which also will take place here on the Treasure Coast in 2010.
We aggressively pursued federal stimulus grants and other revenue sources in 2009 to ease the burden on county taxpayers.
With the help of a $200,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant, we were able to install a state-of-the-art, computer controlled target system at our gun range. Working with a local business and with the help of another grant, we were able to replace two 26-foot boats with two 27-foot boats for our Marine Unit.
We realized additional savings by installing a new telephone system using a technology called "voice over I.P." and we reconfigured our air-handling system to conserve energy and lower our power bills.
During 2009, jail inmates supervised by deputies performed more than 46,000 hours of construction and maintenance of Sheriff’s Office, county and other public facilities without the expenditure of taxpayer dollars.
While we fought crime and conserved taxpayer dollars, the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office in 2009 was named as one of the county's "Best Places to Work" among employers with more than 250 employees.
I want to thank you, the people of St. Lucie County, for your support of the Sheriff's Office in 2009. We will work hard to continue to earn that support in 2010.
Ken J. Mascara Sheriff of St. Lucie County
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