Law & Order

Fact-Checking the Gun Debate

Feb 2, 2013
Tampa Bay Times

PolitiFact Florida has found some half truths in recent statements about gun control from Florida leaders.

Gun violence is back on the front burner of American political discussion -- in the wake of the killings of 26 students and teachers last month at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Gun control laws are part of that discussion -- with the president coming out in favor of closing background check loopholes and a ban on assault -style weapons and high capacity magazines.

Sheriff's Office Warns Seniors of 'Gypsy' Scams

Jan 23, 2013

Springtime in Florida means baseball, beach weather... and an increase in so-called "gypsies" -- criminals who travel the country in small groups to commit robberies and fraud. That's according to a statement issued by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Det. Larry McKinnon, a sheriff's office spokesman, said Florida's seniors are especially vulnerable. "[Criminals] know this is a very large popular part of the country where seniors come to from up north," McKinnon said. "They prey on seniors."

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

Polk City Mayor Joe LaCascia is fresh back from a trip to D.C. where he joined other mayors across the country to lobby Congress  in favor of gun control as a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition.

As a part of the coalition, LaCascia lobbied for bans on assault weapons and high ammunition magazines. He also lobbied for comprehensive background checks on all gun purchases.

SR 60 in Lake Wales May Stay Closed For Hours

Jan 9, 2013
Polk County Sheriff's Department

State Road 60 in Lake Wales is closed in both directions at Kissimmee Shores after an accident at 6 this morning. Both drivers were killed after their vehicles, a semi and a car, burst into flames on impact.

Around 11 this morning, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said it would take about 3 to 4 hours to clear the wreckage.

The only travel alternate suggested is Walk-in-Water Road.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a case testing whether police must get a warrant before forcing a drunken driving suspect to have his blood drawn.

The massacre last month at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school has schools countrywide heightening their security. And that includes Hillsborough County.

Law enforcement officers were present at all schools before students left for winter break and now they are staying until the end of the school year.

Charlotte County Sheriff's Office

A Florida pilot was flying over his home when he noticed something alarming: a burglary in progress.

Earlier this week, David Zehntner was returning home from North Carolina in his personal airplane when he decided to fly over his house in Glades County, according to this report from NBC2.

That's when he noticed Gary Robert Haines, 59, peeking into the windows of his home. Haines then hitched Zehntner's trailer to his truck and took off down the driveway.

There are reports from a variety of states about local lawmakers who want to give teachers the right to bring guns to school. They're making the case that school shootings such as the one Friday in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 small children and six adults dead could be prevented or stopped if some school staffers were armed.

Schools Tighten Security in Wake of Sandy Hook Tragedy

Dec 17, 2012

Friday's massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut has local officials on alert today.

After 26 people died at Sandy Hook Elementary School, officials in Hillsborough County are putting more law enforcement officers in elementary schools. Most elementary schools don't have a resource officer on campus like middle and high schools do. But deputies will be around this week.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa is calling for increased regulation of ammunition for automatic weapons in the wake of the school shootings in Newton, Conn. The Democrat also wants enhanced background checks for criminals who want to purchase guns.

Editor's Note: In separate interviews for weekends on All Things Considered Sunday, host Guy Raz spoke with Rep. John Larson and journalist Paul Barrett. You can hear the discussions as they aired at the audio link above.

In a sermon Sunday morning on gun violence, the dean of the Washington National Cathedral said "enough is enough."

Newtown, Conn., is a white-collar community an hour and a half northeast of New York City. It's the kind of place where crime is rare and the biggest thing that happens each year is the Labor Day parade.

Now the peace and quiet has been shattered, and residents are trying to make sense of what's happened.

Hours after the shootings that left so many people dead, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church opened its doors for a prayer vigil. People filed through the streets and past houses decorated with Christmas lights.

University of South Florida researchers announced earlier this week that they’ve found evidence of around 90 deaths and 50 gravesites at the defunct Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.  Now, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is asking the Justice Department join the school’s anthropologists in broadening a search to look for more graves -  as well as forensic evidence of possible crimes.

Polk County Sheriff's Office

Polk County deputies have arrested six young teens from Lakeland in connection with the shooting of a 79-year-old man.

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

Pinellas County Deputies say Rodney J. Blanchard is being charged with felony animal cruelty and misdemeanor battery after they found kittens in his freezer.

According to a press release, police were called to the home of Rodney J. Blanchard by a woman who was visiting his home.

She told police that Blanchard asked her to get him a beer out of the freezer. While there was no beer in the freezer, there were four kittens. When the woman tried to take them out of the freezer, Blanchard shoved her aside and told her to get out.

Global outcry is building over the fatal shooting of a K-9 in Palm Beach County. Meanwhile, prosecutors are asking why high-tech tracking did not stop the now-accused juvenile offender before it was too late reports WFLX.

Sarasota Police Officer Derrick Gilbert is now the subject of an internal investigation after a reporter showed a security camera video from a Sarasota County Area Transit station to the city manager. 

7 Dogs Recovered From Fighting Ring in Seffner

Nov 28, 2012

Officials say they walked by dog remains and chains in a remote area in Seffner where they suspect more than a hundred dogs have fought over a 20 year period.

ACLU Accuses Sarasota Police of "Bum Hunting"

Nov 27, 2012

Sarasota police were accused today of going on "bum hunts" against the city's surging homeless population.  The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the city in a class action suit on behalf of the city's homeless. The ACLU released transcripts of police messages referring to "bum hunting'' and dressing up as "bums."

The ACLU held a news conference today, accusing Sarasota of waging a  "war on the homeless."

Steve Newborn / WUSF

Five years ago, her mother was killed in a car crash caused by a driver who was distracted by a cell phone.

After Jennifer Smith laid her mother to rest, she embarked on a new cause - making sure this doesn't happen to someone else.

Smith, who lives in suburban Chicago, is in Tampa today to help kick off the state's first Distracted Driving Summit.

She's starting the Distraction Advocate Network, a nationwide group committed to raising awareness of the impact of distracted driving.