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Two month investigation by the Florence Police Department
Street Crimes Unit ends in nine arrests

(Florence, Al) -     Florence Police delivered what they say to be a “significant blow” to street level drug dealings within the West Florence Community.

After two months of complaints and surveillance activities the Florence Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit took advantage Friday night of what they believed to be the right circumstances to shut down local street level drug dealings.

The events surrounding the arrest of nine people is being termed “Operation Block Party” due to the large crowds and open alcohol and drug usage at 401 West Mobile Street, Florence. Friday night’s events at the address come just one week after officers responded to shots being fired into the residence. In that case Dennis Lerondstadt Cole, 28, 1247 Graham Ave, now faces charges of Attempted Assault First, Reckless Endangerment, and Shooting into an Occupied Dwelling. 

“It was the right time to act” stated Ira Davis, Community Policing Officer for the neighborhood. Davis was referring to surveillance video which showed illegal activity occurring at the time of the raid. All arrested were in the yard and city street in front of the residence. As officers arrived several individuals fled the area on foot. Officers gave chase and apprehended one of the subjects. 

“This isn’t the face of West Florence which has a history of bad publicity,” states Brad Holmes, Community Relations Officer for the police department, “I hope that this operation has shown the community that we stand behind them and will not allow drugs to dominate the neighborhood. With the communities help, the bad publicity stops now.”

“Operation Block Party” stems from complaints from the neighborhood and an initiative by Florence Police Chief Rick Singleton and the Florence City Council. “Councilman Sam Pendleton was instrumental in this case,” stated Holmes, “He not only encouraged our department to investigate but helped to ensure funding for the unit along with his council counterparts and Mayor Irons.” Pendleton represents the area where the operation took place.

Police say that this operation is far from over. Additional arrests and charges will be filed on several individuals who were not arrested Friday night. “The evidence we’ve obtained will be turned over to the Lauderdale County Drug Task Force and presented to the Lauderdale County DA’s office for review and prosecution,” stated Davis. “We expect additional arrests and will continue to show those that chose to be involved in criminal activity they will be caught, arrested, and prosecuted. 

Arrested were:

Anthony DeShawn Carroll, 30, 1-B Jackson Apts, Sheffield
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         False information

Jamar Monte McDonald, 19, 1437-A Carver Heights, Florence
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         Possession of Marijuana 2 nd

Derek Dewayne Roberts, 22, 303 Apt B Handy Homes, Florence
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         Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance

Julius Lashawn Simpson, 29, 1550 Helton Drive BB2, Florence
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         Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance

Willie Montez Saffold, 20, 1550 Helton Drive BB2, Florence
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         Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance
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         Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Brenda Shell Tubbs, 45, 104 S. Locust, Florence
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         Unlawful Possession of Marijuana 2 nd

Derrick Ramond Peters, 27, 301 N. Court Street Apt. 12, Florence
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         Carrying a Pistol without a Permit

Michael Lamont Shanes, 32, 206 S. Broadway Street, Florence
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         Drinking in Public

An additional juvenile was arrest and charged with disorderly conduct


April 12, 2006

Florence Police Duo Bring Home 3 rd in International Competition

(Tampa, FL)-   After months of preparation, Florence Police SWAT Snipers Hal Howard and Kevin Jackson have accomplished the impossible bringing home to the Shoals a third place award in the SniperCraft Challenge International Sniper Competition.

SniperWeek, sponsored by SniperCraft, is a unique training event for police and military snipers.  It combines two days of comprehensive classroom lectures and presentations with two days of intense, job-related range training and competition.  SniperWeek is recognized as the largest, and longest running police sniper training event of its kind in the world.  There is nothing else like it anywhere.

This is not a contest, or a world championship.  Nor is this to be confused with your basic bull’s eye bench rest course.  This is a competitive sniper training event without equal.  Any sniper seeking to gauge his readiness to operate in the real world of tactical deployments should stop here first.

The emphasis is on training.  The SniperCraft Challenge is a unique course, designed by and for police snipers.  Using actual sniper incidents as the model, each phase incorporates documented realism.  The result is a practical series of intense live-fire exercises, set up to test your fitness, equipment, teamwork, problem-solving, communication skills, ability to perform under a variety of stressors - and your marksmanship.  Exactly like the next time the pager goes off.  This is an opportunity to validate your preparation.

"This is the Olympics of Police Sniping!"  Law & Order Magazine

For the third year in a row, the pair of Howard and Jackson trekked 720 miles south to Tampa to compete in the "Olympics of Police Sniping."

“To try and explain what occurs at SniperCraft Challenge is difficult for me,” states Howard, “many words come to mind though, stress, physically demanding, mentally demanding, sweat, frustration, and joy.  The one word that best explains what SniperCraft does for police snipers is TEAMWORK.” 

This year there were 53 two-man international teams vying for the title of champion.  The group hailed from all parts of the United States and across the World. Teams from Chicago, New York, Miami, Palm Beach, Orange Co. FL., Detroit, Texas, Wisconsin, Georgia, and South America were all attempting to show off their ability and take home the prize. 

Lt. Eric Nichols, Florence SWAT Commander, stated, “When you consider the tuff competition and the advantages full time teams have over a pair like Hal (Howard) and Kevin (Jackson), this kind of success is phenomenal!”

Most teams in the competition are full time, meaning, that's all they do at work. 

“They shoot, train, are deployed on operations, train some more, shoot more and are budgeted for their equipment, time and ammo.” Howard noted, “Being a part-time team (like Florence) means we train twice a month for four hours at a time.  Kevin and I have been a team for six years now, shooting when we can on our off time and at training.  We are budgeted a limited amount of ammo so we have to make it stretch.   Our primary assignment is patrolling the streets and answering calls.”

Florence houses a part-time SWAT team with a limited number of members. Each member participates on the team as a secondary assignment in addition to their normal course of duties.

This year the team placed third.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of their dedication, commitment, and motivation to make the personal sacrifices necessary to compete in this event, not to mention the spectacular result,” added Nichols.

“We are overjoyed at our accomplishment.   Going into the competition Kevin and myself were going for the top 10.  Last year we finished in the top 20 of the nation coming in at 18.  When the scores were tallied at the end of the first day we were in fourth place.  The next day when they were tallied we were third.”

The first place winners were from the South American branch of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), a full time team.  The second place winners were from Orange Co. Sheriff's Dept. FL, another full time team.  The difference between second and third was only one shot.  

The Sniper/Observer teams competed head-to-head in a very challenging series of events that have historically served as a comprehensive training exercise.  These courses tested and validated the team's overall sniping skills, including judgment, teamwork, tactics and shooting under induced stress.  Participation was open only to active, certified, police SWAT team and military personnel, and supervisors.

The competition consisted of several areas of shooting including threat recognition, acquisition and accuracy. Throughout the competition each team was subjected to a variety of stress inducing exercises and physical activities and then placed in realistic settings with targets less than 2” in diameter.

“We teach our team members that training and teamwork is important to accomplishing a goal,” stated Sgt. Jeff Stanfield, who supervises Florence sniper team.

“The one thing that is discovered in these events is teamwork,” stated Howard, “Where I was shooting low on some Kevin picked it up and made up for it.  The same was reversed, where Kevin shot low, I made up for him.  That's how we got so high in score, working together.” 

Howard and Jackson will return to Florence to resume their normal course of duties this week, but with a little added pride in knowing that they are among the best in the world at what they do. “We competed against some excellent competition and couldn’t have accomplished this with help,” states Jackson, “Thank you to all who supported and sponsored our team during this competition.”

Both Howard and Jackson plan to compete in the future in hopes of being named SniperCraft Challenge Champion. Jackson closed by stating, “We learn something new each competition and hope to continue to compete and learn each year.”

***Credits-      Law and Order Magazine
                        SniperCraft


03/15/2006

TERRORISM AWARENESS FOR COMMUNITIES

The Florence Police Dept. Community Policing Unit would like to announce an opportunity for civic groups and organizations to host a community training class on terrorism.

This class is designed to educate the public on how to spot terrorist s in their community. It also shows different types of terrorist s that operate in the U.S. and abroad.    In this day and times it is important that we ALL work together to stop terrorism.

If your group is interested in this program, please contact John Hamm, Community Policing Officer, at 760-6582 or by email at jhamm@florenceal.org


Mental Health Training

Free Mental Health training on Thursday, March 16 th and Friday, March 17 th from 08:30 until 5:30.  Lunch will be provided both days.


01/31/2006

Federal Drug Trafficking Case Ends With 25 Guilty North Alabamians

(Florence, Al)-
The federal trial of four North Alabamians ends with guilty verdicts on all. After a two year investigation into illegal drug trafficking activities throughout North Alabama 25 individuals have either plead to or been found guilty of conspiring to distribute illegal drugs throughout the area.

This latest trial involves individuals arrested in August of 2005 during a roundup conducted by the Lauderdale County Drug Task Force with assistance from the Florence Police Dept. SWAT Team as well as the Colbert County Drug Task Force and DEA Agents.

The investigation and trial, ironically, ended just two days prior to its two year anniversary which was marked by the controlled delivery of narcotics to an address on Baker Point Lane in Lauderdale County in 2004. Information obtain in that case led authorities to begin an investigation into an ongoing conspiracy.

Throughout the investigation agents with the Lauderdale County Drug Task Force and DEA found ties within this organization linking the drug trade from Florence, Alabama to Atlanta, Nashville, Houston, El Paso, Southern California and Mexico.

Thus far, agents have seized over $479,592 in US currency, numerous vehicles (including 82 mini- motorcycles), and numerous pieces of property throughout North Alabama which is believed to be linked to illegal drug trafficking. In addition to the items seized agents have tied hundreds of kilos of Cocaine and thousands of kilos of Marijuana to this previously powerful conspiracy.

Agent Tim Glover, lead agent on the case with the Lauderdale County Drug Task Force, stated, “This is the perfect example of the positives that can come from working with federal agencies and tapping into their resources. I appreciate the hard work and consideration of the jury in this case and there is no doubt that this case will make a huge impact in the availability of drugs within the Shoals area and all of North Alabama. I especially want to thank Special Agent Fred Gasbaro, DEA, Special Agent Marty Cosby, IRS, and AUSA Russell Penfield for their hard work and dedication.” Agent Cosby played a key role in this, however, was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident prior to trial.

“This is true cooperation to get drugs and dealers off the streets,” stated Myron Crunk, Director of the Lauderdale County Drug Task Force. Over it’s two year duration authorities with the United States Attorney’s Officer, DEA, IRS, Lauderdale County Drug Task Force, Florence Police Department, Lawrence County (Alabama) Sheriff Office, ABC Board, Sulfur County, LA, Sheriff Office, Texarkana, TX, Police Department, Houston Police Department Airport Interdiction and Parcel Packages Interdiction teams assisted.


01/12/2006

The Florence Police Department will hold its annual public meeting on Sunday, January 22 from 3 to 4 PM at the Florence Middle School Auditorium on Bruin Dr. The meeting will cover the goals and happenings of the FPD and our goals for 2006. Several citizens will be recognized for their contributions to the FPD and the City. There will also be static displays of impressive police and homeland security equipment. Come spend an hour to get to know the inside workings of your police department.


Shoals-Area Law Enforcement Wins IACP Photo Contest 

AMBER Alert Links

FPD Officer Tim Tankersley Wins State Award

Former FPD Officer Receives K-9 Award 

 

 
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