Watch: Deputy wrangles four-foot gator with broom, returns it to Florida pond

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL — It is currently alligator mating season in Florida, which means that not only do police officers have to handle criminals and common police calls, they are also wrangling gators off the streets. 

In Hillsborough County, Florida, a deputy used a broom to lead an alligator back into a nearby pond on Thursday, April 29th. 

According to the sheriff’s office, Deputy Shyanne Wheaton, Deputy Noland and Deputy Morrey were called to deal with a four-foot alligator that had wandered away from a pond, and was found sleeping under a car in a Tampa neighborhood. 

The video shows officer Wheaton taking charge of the situation and using the end of a broom to guide the reptile in the right direction. The gator latched onto the broom and the officer dragged it to a nearby pond to release it. 

After the gator was safely relocated, officer Wheaton can be heard telling the home owner:

“I owe you a new broom.”

Officer Wheaton is very familiar with alligators, as this was the second time the officer dealt with one in less than a month. Last time however, the alligator officer Wheaton helped relocate was 10-feet-long.

In that incident, the Sheriff’s Office said it had received a call shortly before 9 a.m. on March 31 about the reptile, which had been spotted at an apartment complex in the city of Tampa, according to local media outlet WESH.

On April 6th , the sheriff’s office posted footage of the relocation recorded on the bodycam of Deputy Wheaton.

Deputies are posting these encounters to remind residents that it is still alligator mating season, and they should use caution.

They advise residents to keep a safe distance, keep their pets on a leash, and swim only in designated swimming areas during daylight, Fox4 reported.

If you see an alligator, don’t feed or touch it, and call the sheriff’s office non-emergency number at 813-247-8200 or call the toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4296.

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Florida Deputies being told not to enforce an anti-rioting law signed by governor unless ‘absolutely necessary’

April 30, 2021 

BROWARD COUNTY, FL – With the recent passing of what has been informally dubbed as Florida’s “anti-riot” law, an internal email from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office is reportedly instructing deputies to essentially limit the enforcement of the new law.

The rationale cited within the internal email pointed to the existence of an already inundated book of laws to enforce, and also concerns that enforcement of the “anti-riot” law might encroach upon legally protected activities.

The internal email that served as a memorandum was obtained by CBS 12 News, with there being some apprehensions on the authenticity of this email.

According to this email obtained by the news outlet, it was purportedly drafted by Colonel David R. Holmes, Executive Director of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.

Excerpts from the email noted:

“We (BSO and several other agencies around the State of Florida) already have enough laws on the books to do our job effectively without the new law.”

Reportedly, this email has directed captains within the Sheriff’s Office to meet with deputies and explain that this anti-riot law can only be utilized under specific circumstances.

The email further notes that a deputy needs to consult their district captain before even attempting to charge someone under the parameters established by the anti-riot law in an effort to avoid “any unnecessary and/or inappropriate actions by our deputies.”

Reportedly CBS 12 News had reached out to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office to confirm whether or not this was a genuine memorandum issued via email, with a spokesperson neither confirming nor denying it but simply noting that sheriff’s deputies “will continue to respect people’s rights to peacefully protest.”

Jeff Bell, President Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, noted that if this email is a genuine article, then it is serving as a vehicle to leave deputies confused regarding the enforcement of actual laws on the books:

“[The email] sent a mix message of we’re supposed to now pick and choose which felonies we’re supposed to enforce. It gives the appearance the command staff is not going to stand behind the deputies for the decisions they make in the heat of the moment.”

While there is ambiguity regarding how the Broward County Sheriff’s Office will be handling enforcement related to the newly passed legislation, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office noted that they have every intention to enforce every line item associated with the anti-riot law.

Much of the controversy associated with this law is the manner in which it has been characterized by bad-faith interpreters of the legislation.

We at Law Enforcement Today broke down a lot of the hyperbole being flung by individuals and organizations attempting to offer extreme interpretations with respect to the anti-riot law.

In case you missed it, here is that previous report that addresses a lot of the charged rhetoric revolving around the actual bill that was passed in Florida.

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The following contains editorial content written by a current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today. 

TALLAHASSEE, FL – With the Florida state Senate recently passing HB1, which some have dubbed is the “anti-riot” bill, activist groups such as the ACLU of Florida are outraged that the bill is merely awaiting Governor Ron DeSantis’ signature before becoming state law.

While the bill itself has been dubbed as the “anti-riot” or “anti-protesting” bill by proponents and critics, the bill is actually called the “Combatting Public Disorder” bill – and tethered within the bill’s 61 pages is language associated with dissuading illegal acts that can transpire during protests and riots.

On April 15th, HB1 passed primarily along partisan lines in a 23-17 vote in favor, which leaves the bill now simply awaiting Governor DeSantis’ signature.

Considering that Governor DeSantis has been a rather vocal advocate of the measures contained within the bill, it’s pretty much a given that it will become state law.

The bill contains provisions that have stoked the ire of activist groups, predominantly due to generally bad faith interpretations of what is contained in the actual bill.

One such provision that has been a point of contention for those against HB1 is the language within the bill that affords civil legal immunity to motorists who happened to drive through a crowd of people that may be blocking roadways during riots and protests.  

At least that is how the ACLU of Florida has characterized aspects of the bill, as well as other bizarre interpretations of the language contained within HB1. According to a statement released by the ACLU of Florida, the following was noted about HB1:

“[The bill] would also shield violent counter-protesters from civil liability for killing a peaceful protester or demonstrator with their vehicle, and make pulling down a Confederate flag a punishable offense for up to 15 years in prison.”

In reality, the bill presents no such scenario where “violent-counter protesters” can kill a “peaceful protester or demonstrator” with their car and be devoid of civil liability.

In fact, the section that denotes “affirmative defense in civil action” it is prefaced specifically with the words:

“This section does not prohibit constitutionally protected activity such as a peaceful protest.”

From there, HB1 underlines that defendants in a civil suit can bring up an affirmative defense noting that what they are being sued for was caused primarily by the plaintiff because they were actively engaged in a “riot”:

“In a civil action for damages for personal injury, wrongful death, or property damage, it is an affirmative defense that such action arose from an injury or damage sustained by a participant acting in furtherance of a riot.

This affirmative defense authorized by this section shall be established by evidence that the participant has been convicted of a riot or an aggravated riot prohibited under S. 870. 01, or by proof of the commission of such crime by a preponderance of the evidence.”

This then brings us to the allegation from the ACLU of Florida where the entity proclaims that people can be jailed for “pulling down a Confederate flag” in Florida.

This is again a severe, and gross, mischaracterization of HB1, particularly because the word “Confederate” isn’t anywhere in the bill.

What is in the bill is a provision pertaining to felony charges that can be levied for those who willfully and maliciously deface or damage a memorial or historic property:

“Any person who, without the consent of the owner thereof, willfully and maliciously defaces, injures, or otherwise damages by any means a memorial or historic property, as defined in S. 806. 135 (1), and the value of the damage to the memorial or historic property is greater than $200, commits a felony of the third degree.”

Where this bad faith interpretation regarding Confederate flags realistically came from within HB1 is the subsection of this provision that defines what a “memorial” is:

“‘Memorial’ means a plaque, statue, marker, flag, banner, cenotaph, religious symbol, painting, seal, tombstone, structure name, or display that is constructed and located with the intent of being permanently displayed or perpetually maintained; is dedicated to a historical person, an entity, an event, or a series of events; and honors or recounts the military service of any past or present United States Armed Forces military personnel, or the past or present public service of a resident of the geographical area comprising the state or the United States.”

In short, all this language within HB1 is specifically outlining the severity of criminal charges that can be levied toward rioters that decide they don’t like a particular monument or memorial and take it upon themselves to illegally tear it down.

The ACLU of Florida, and all the critics of HB1, are expressing frustrations over a bill that carries some enhancements for criminal activity that has always been criminal activity. The bill does not criminalize peaceful protesting in any way shape or form.

Yet this has not stopped the likes of Michael Kubic, who is the executive director of ACLU of Florida, who alleges that HB1 is “racist” and “unconstitutional”:

“HB 1 is racist, unconstitutional, and anti-democratic, plain and simple. The bill was purposely designed to embolden the disparate police treatment we have seen over and over again directed towards Black and brown people who are exercising their constitutional right to protest.”

The bill as it stands, and the intent of its crafting, is designed to address the sort of criminal activity that can and has occurred during protests and riots. While the bill was being debated on the Senate floor, Senator Danny Burgess pointed out to critics that the “bill is about preventing violence.”

Those that want to engage in any “peaceful protest” in the state of Florida has nothing to worry about regarding this legislation.

So long as individuals are not attacking people or police, engaging in criminal damage, or participating in generally riotous acts – they won’t be subjected to any criminal proceedings outlined within HB1.

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