Florida Department of Law Enforcement


Florida’s prison system has been in the news a lot lately, between suspicious prison deaths, allegations of inmate abuse, and new reforms meant to address such abuses. But, some say the reforms are not enough and a change in leadership should be in store.

Florida Department of Correction's website

A recent inmate death at a North Florida Correctional facility has some calling for federal officials to step in and address what they call a “culture of inmate abuse” within the Florida prison system.

Latandra Ellington was an inmate at Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala, serving about two years in prison for fraud. Weeks ago, Tallahassee Attorney Darryl Parks says the 36-year-old sent two letters to her aunt, saying she felt threatened by guards. So, he says Ellington’s aunt called the facility and left a message.

Florida Channel

Governor Rick Scott is weighing in on the troubles surrounding the state’s prison system. The Florida Department of Corrections has been in the news lately for prison firings, allegations of inmate abuse, and the latest: threatening to cancel their contract with private inmate health care provider.

During a recent stop in Jacksonville, Scott told reporters he’s aware of the problems in the system and he says Corrections’ Secretary Mike Crews is taking care of it.

fingerprinting station
Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

This morning, Florida officials recognized the 16th annual Missing Children’s Day at the state Capitol. Last year, Florida law enforcement officers received more than 35,000 missing-child reports.

Local 10 News Screenshot

The head of the Florida Department of Corrections says his agency is implementing several reforms to overhaul the system that houses more than 100,000 inmates. It’s the latest after the DOC came under fire for its handling of inmate deaths—particularly mentally ill prisoners.

The main impetus behind the changes is the death of mentally ill inmate Darren Rainey, and the department’s handling of the investigation into his death at Dade Correctional Institution.

Knife-Carrying Men Confront Florida Capitol Police

Jun 23, 2014
Historic Capitol
Tom Flanigan / WFSU News

Florida State Capitol Police had a confrontation Monday with two young men who appeared to be armed with a knife. No arrest was made after the two approached officers Monday around 12:30 p.m.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman Gretl Plesigner says Capitol Police have dealt with at least one of them before because he’s "a frequent visitor" who likes to ask officers questions.

Madison County Jail

A Madison County high school teacher is no longer in jail, after he bonded out Friday. It’s his second arrest following another claim of sexual abuse at the school.

Because it’s still an ongoing investigation, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is still asking anyone with information to come forward involving the case of Geoffrey Hill.

In the coming months, there will be some major shifts in the way statewide crime lab currently operate. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is looking to make some procedural changes spurred on by the initial arrest of a former crime lab chemist in a supervisorial role, suspected of tampering with drug evidence.

What Led To The Changes?

Madison County Jail

A Madison High School teacher is in jail, following his arrest Wednesday for sexual battery. State officials are asking for the public’s help because they believe there may be more victims.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger says her agency began investigating Geoffrey Hill, the school’s band instructor, after receiving a complaint.

“We actually received a complaint from a person who told us that he was sexually abused by Hill,” said Plessinger.

Escambia County State Attorney's office

An investigation into a former state crime lab chemist is still ongoing, even after his rearrest Wednesday on additional charges. Joseph Graves is accused of stealing drug evidence and replacing it with over-the-counter medicine. But, the top prosecutor in the case says he doesn’t anticipate any new charges to be filed.

MGN Online

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is continuing to investigate how two inmates got shot at a north central Florida prison over the weekend.

On Saturday, Columbia Correctional officers initially reported two inmates had been stabbed. That’s according to a news release by the Columbia County Sheriff’s office. Later, when deputies arrived at the prison, they realized the inmates had been shot, not stabbed. And, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger says that’s in line with her agency’s investigation of the matter so far.

Capital Report: 02-14-2014

Feb 14, 2014

Some changes appear likely for Florida’s criminal justice system. State lawmakers must address the escapes of several felons who used forged court documents to secure their release. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is also reviewing its crime lab operations, after the recent arrest of a former chemist suspected of tampering with drug evidence in multiple cases. Sascha Cordner has more on the foibles and their potential fixes.

Escambia County Sheriffs Office

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Authorities say a former Florida crime lab analyst is under arrest on charges that he stole and sold prescription pills seized as evidence in criminal cases.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced that Joseph Graves was arrested Tuesday. It comes a day after the chemist resigned from his job at a Pensacola lab that tests drug evidence.

Investigators say Graves replaced painkillers he was testing as evidence with non-prescription pills. He is charge with then selling the painkillers.

Florida Capitol police have now spent more than $100,000 mark on overtime pay, working round-the-clock to provide security for protestors who have been there the last three weeks, protesting Florida's Stand Your Ground Law. 

Since the start of the protest, Capitol Police have had to double their security detail. Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger says normally the FDLE wouldn’t have to be paying overtime on a regular basis.

The program that provides continuing education for Florida police officers is going into the next year with 40 percent less money. That’s raised concerns about public safety, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says, it’s working to restore the funding.

Long after graduating basic recruit academy, law enforcement officers are required by Florida law to continue training throughout their careers. They can fulfill that requirement by taking special classes in things like interrogation techniques and homicide investigation.

R. Benk / WFSU-FM

Human trafficking is defined as the illegal trade in human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. Although the definition of the practice is straightforward, spotting it is a whole other story. That’s why officials are now offering a special course to help law enforcement spot the signs of human trafficking and stop it. Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Commissioner Gerald Bailey explains what the course contains.

Florida’s overall crime rate has dropped, and it’s the lowest it’s been in 42 years. But, despite the decline shown in a report released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there has been a slight uptick in certain violent crimes.

A few years ago patients could walk into any of Florida’s so called pain clinics and receive prescription medication with little to no consultation.  That was until recent legislation cracked down on drug abuse. A new report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says the number of drug related deaths in the state fell in the first six months of last year.

A bill has cleared its first stop in the Florida Legislature that would block law enforcement officers from seizing personal electronic devices, like cell phones, without a search warrant. But, opponents say moving the bill forward is a bit premature, while the very same matter is being looked at in the courts.

Under Florida law, law enforcement officers are allowed to search the property of a person who has been arrested without a search warrant.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is encouraging citizens to sign up for AMBER Alerts.  The push comes in connection with National Amber Alert Awareness Day.

The AMBER Alert system was established in 1996 after nine year old Amber Hagerman was abducted and brutally murdered in Arlington, Texas.  Florida adopted the AMBER Alert program in 2000.  Special Agent Supervisor Carol Frederick with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said when an AMBER Alert is sent out, every pair of eyes helps.

Updated 1:05 a.m.

Below is a statement from Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam regarding Florida Department of Law Enforcement's update on Dozier:

I am grateful that FDLE has started to address some of the issues raised by the USF report. The state has an obligation to provide the families involved insight and a meaningful explanation regarding the final resting places of their loved ones. This is a complex and difficult task that will take time.  I'm committed to seeing that we get it right, after decades of failing to do just that.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is calling on the U.S. Justice Department to continue a probe into the Infamous Dozier School for Boys, after recent findings show there were at least 50 graves at the North Florida reform school----that’s 19 more than were found when the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated two years ago. Some say the involvement of federal officials is key to addressing what really happened to prevent the state’s “cover-up of the truth.”

Florida’s Silver Alert Plan turned four-years-old Tuesday. It’s similar to an Amber Alert, but instead of missing children, it’s sent out all across the state to help find missing senior citizens mainly suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. And, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Spokesman Keith Kameg says since the program’s existence, it’s benefited hundreds of seniors statewide:

A total of 11 correctional employees who work at Union Correctional Institution have now been suspended. That’s after a further probe into an ongoing investigation over the possible use of excessive force on several inmates, including one who died at the facility.

Just days ago, the Florida Department of Corrections suspended five of its correctional officers working at Union Correctional Institution, including the Assistant Warden Nan Jeffcoat.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has concluded its investigation into the finances of the Florida A&M University’s marching band. The investigation was launched following the hazing death of school band drum major Robert Champion last November. The probe found several instances of missing money and duplicate payments to band members and others who traveled with the Marching 100.