Operation Cyber Vigilance, conducted March 19–July 20, 2014, targeted individuals who chat with “minors” online for the purpose of meeting them and engaging them in sexual activity. The four-month joint initiative netted 132 arrests and 282 arrest charges.
Operation Safe Families, conducted October 13–November 9, 2013, targeted domestic violence. The four-week long operation targeted individuals with outstanding warrants for domestic violence and writs of bodily attachments for non-support, which are used to bring in individuals who have failed to pay child support. The operation resulted in 5,544 arrests.
Operation Dry Spring was conducted from March 4–April 7, 2013. This statewide operation coincided with spring break with the purpose of protecting youth and other visitors from the effects of alcohol and controlled substance abuse. Thirty seven counties participated, resulting in 5,016 arrests. This included: 3,439 arrests for alcohol possession by persons under 21 years of age; seizure of 5,530 grams of marijuana; and confiscation of 12,913 grams of synthetic drugs, 41 grams of meth and 103 grams of cocaine.
Operation Felon Sweep was conducted over a three-week period in October 2012. The operation involved a statewide roundup of outstanding felony warrants and resulted in approximately 12,000 felony arrests. These included: 44 for homicide, 29 for attempted homicide, 386 for aggravated battery, 408 for aggravated assault and 141 for robbery.
Cyber Sexual Predator Initiative, conducted in early summer 2012, this six-week series involved five counties and was the most successful to date, netting 119 arrests of male predators who engaged in a sex offense with a minor.
One of the strengths of the Florida Sheriffs Association is the ability to pool resources from the 67 Sheriffs’ Offices to address specific areas of concern. After Florida’s Mutual Aid Act took effect in 1984, the sheriffs were given a better system for working together during emergency operations, including built-in legal protections. The Florida sheriffs took this a step farther by creating a structure to launch proactive efforts, including establishing operation protocols and Command Advisory Teams with specific expertise, including hostage negotiations, forensics and civil disturbance.
The first statewide task force operation held in July 1989 was organized to address the growing crack cocaine problem. It involved more than 1,500 law enforcement officers from various counties and resulted in 2,224 arrests. Since then, the Florida Sheriffs Task Force operations have gained national recognition, including an effort that removed $1.5 million of prescription drugs from the street, a crackdown on “Deadbeat Dads,” and mass arrests of sexual predators. The Florida Sheriffs Task Force also is the point of contact for statewide initiatives, including helping to staff the state Emergency Operations Center and coordinating Sheriffs' Offices responding to storm-ravaged communities during hurricanes and other catastrophic disasters.
Sheriffs frequently hea up high profile operations. One of the earliest was Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy's “Operation Grim Reaper,” in 2010 which netted 22 arrests and kicked off many other efforts. The operation had investigators use online dating sites, Craig’s list, chat rooms and several other internet resources using the ploy of a young mother who wanted a man to teach her underage daughter about sex.
Sheriff Dawsy’s staff credited Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County for creating the template for this type of operation and offering professional assistance.
Since the operation, many other counties have conducted their own “sexual predator” stings with great success. These counties include: Citrus, Lake, Polk, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter and Volusia.
Florida's sheriffs have vowed to continue the fight statewide to remove these offenders from society and make the world a little safer for our children. In 2011, they committed to a collaborative Cyber Sexual Predator Initiative and pledged to help other policing agencies with training and resources.
The Florida sheriffs updated and signed two Mutual Aid agreements in January 2013. One agreement was for disaster assistance, such as floods and other natural disasters. The other agreement involved operational assistance and voluntary cooperation that addresses other mutual aid needs, such as ad hoc operations that cross jurisdictional lines.
The Florida Sheriffs Task Force developed an Emergency Mobilization Plan to outline the procedure for the state Emergency Operations Center Command Advisory Team. For more information, contact FSA Public Safety Services Coordinator David Brand via email or phone (toll free): 1-800-877-2168, ext. 246.
Click here to login to the Sheriffs Emergency Mobilization System - SEMS (Username and Password required). Contact Corporal Ernie Armistead, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office for details: via email or phone: 727-582-6731.