MEET THE WOMEN WHO PACKED MORE THAN 300 BACKPACKS FOR CHILDREN IN NEED

ashley and bethFor Immediate Release

August 9, 2017

DeFuniak Springs, Fla— Pencils? Check. Paper? Check. Crayons? Check. Markers? Check.

Backpack after backpack Ashley Foushee and Beth Armstrong packed until their backs literally hurt. But, the pain would be worth it for more than 280 students about to embark on another school year in Walton County.

For the third time, Walton County Sheriff’s Office put out the call for help providing less fortunate children what they need to head back to the classroom. The WCSO backpack drive was birthed with the idea that a new bag and some fresh school supplies would give children some much needed confidence heading into the new school year.

Foushee and Armstrong have a combined 15 years at the agency and each year they spend countless hours collecting supplies, organizing applications, and tagging bags for delivery.

“The backpack drive without a doubt would not be as organized or as successful without the help of these two compassionate ladies,” said Captain Angie Hogeboom.

Hogeboom is the Captain over the Criminal Investigations bureau, which acts as ground zero for the effort, with backpacks scattered all over the upstairs offices of WCSO’s North Administration building.

“They genuinely love to help others and were committed to making this event memorable for the children every single year,” said Hogeboom.

Times are tough for many families in Walton County; evident in the applications that came piling in for this year’s drive.

Armstrong knows that all too well, serving as the victim’s advocate for the agency over the past seven years. Many call Foushee a “jack-of-all-trades” in her role of Administrative Assistant for CIB taking phone calls, doing research, and handling any other tasks investigators throw her way.

 

The community answered the call for help with haste. Several local businesses and community members donated a number of backpacks into double digit numbers with a grand total of 318 bags donated, not including supplies.

“We had so much support this year,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “Everyone made it their mission.”

Typically, Foushee and Armstrong stay behind the scenes making sure the effort runs smoothly. But, this year was the first they delivered backpacks and put a face to so many inked names on applications.

“That’s why we do it,” said Foushee. “It’s the ultimate reward.”

The final tally of students who received backpacks during the WCSO Backpack drive is 284. More backpacks are available for those who need them. Click here to learn more and apply.

 

 

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OPERATION BLUE BIRD; WCSO PREPARES FOR START OF SCHOOL YEAR

Operation Blue Bird 2

For Immediate Release

August 7, 2017

Walton County, Fla— Thursday will mark the start of a new school year in Walton County.

Walton County District Schools will begin classes on Thursday, August 10th. To help ensure a safe start Walton County Sheriff’s Office will be executing Operation Blue Bird.

Operation Blue Bird will run from August 10th to August 25th.  The focus is to provide school zone safety for students as they head back to school.

During this operation deputies will run radar and perform traffic enforcement in all school zones. The plan also calls for assistance from the Walton County Sheriff’s Office Posse in the areas of South Walton High School and Emerald Coast Middle School.  The DeFuniak Springs Police Department will be supporting us on Walton Road and Florida Highway Patrol is also participating in this operation.

In addition, investigators in unmarked cars have been assigned to specific schools to follow school buses.  Their goal is to follow the bus along its route and help enforce any traffic violations that may occur.

“These buses are responsible for transporting this county’s most precious assets,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “It’s our responsibility to protect them.”

Message boards will be placed in the area of Paxton School, Walton High School, Freeport Elementary, Butler Elementary and Emerald Coast Middle School to begin the operation and to educate the public on the ongoing activity.

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DEPUTIES PURCHASE FOOD FOR ELDERLY DEFUNIAK SPRINGS WOMAN

trioThings got tough for Mrs. Burgess after the passing of her husband several years ago.

The 63-year-old Walton County resident didn’t have family close by to help her and she had been struggling to live on her own when she called the Walton County Sheriff’s Office for help.

When deputies went to her home on July 16th they discovered she didn’t have any food that was edible, her home was very dirty and in disarray, and she hadn’t been able to bath in some time due to being unable to get in and out of her tub.

The woman had been eating peanut butter and honey.

Deputies contacted the Abuse Hotline and also contacted the Department of Children and Families.

But, that wouldn’t be the only thing deputies would do for Mrs. Burgess.

Walton County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Cory Webster and Deputies Ethan Laird and Kallie Wright would come together that night to turn things around for Mrs. Burgess.

They would purchase food and assist her in cleaning old, rotting food from her refrigerator.

Deputy Laird kept Mrs. Burgess company for several hours while Sergeant Webster and Deputy Wright made the trip to Walmart to buy food. The three would spend time helping clean and dispose of the food that was no longer edible.

“I believe Sergeant Webster and Deputies Laird and Wright went above the call of duty to help Mrs. Burgess in her time of need,” said Lieutenant Ryan Brown. “Needless to say, I am very proud to have them on my squad.”

“Their actions speak volumes about their character and willingness to serve,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “This is what Walton County Sheriff’s Office is about.”

Since that time the Walton County Council on Aging and Department of Children and Families have come in to assist.

 

 

 

 

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CRIME STOPPERS WEEKLY WANTED

 

The Walton County Sheriff’s Office is currently seeking information on the following subjects wanted out of our jurisdiction;

William Brian Harnish– White male, 38 YOA, 5’7”, 145 lbs., Brown hair, Hazel eyes.   This subject is wanted on a Felony Violation of Probation for the original charge of Possession of a Controlled substance w/out a Prescription and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.  He was last seen in Walton County Florida.

Brittney Lanell Sanders– Black female, 30 YOA, 5’05”, 150 lbs., Black hair Brown eyes.  This subject is wanted on a Felony Violation of Probation for the original charge of Trafficking in Counterfeit Credit Cards and Create, Use, or Possess W/Intent to Use Counterfeit Personal Information.  She was last seen in New Orleans Louisiana.

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MAN IN CUSTODY AFTER SHOOTING INTO NEARBY HOME WITH CHILDREN INSIDE

childFor Immediate Release

August 3, 2017 

Santa Rosa Beach, Fla—A man fires a shotgun into a neighboring home with children inside. Now, he’s behind bars at the Walton County Jail.

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Ian Thomas Allen, 49, fired a .12 gauge shot gun numerous times from his second floor balcony on 101 Dogwood Street into a neighboring residence during a drunken rage.

The window that was struck at 282 West Grove Avenue is just feet from where two children were asleep in a bedroom.

The incident was reported to WCSO at 8:15am when the residents of the home woke up and noticed the damages to the window. Deputies then made contact with Allen who admitted to firing the shot gun several times sometime between 11pm and midnight while intoxicated.

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Several shotgun casings were found on the balcony and in the yard below it.

“There were higher powers at work here protecting those children,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “We are grateful no one was injured.”

Allen was subsequently arrested and charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling and reckless discharge.

 

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UPDATE: SILVER ALERT CANCELLED, FREEPORT MAN FOUND SAFE

thumbnail_Garrett, KennethUPDATED RELEASE

August 2, 2017 

Freeport, Fla—The Silver Alert issued for 80-year-old Kenneth Garrett has been cancelled.

Mr. Garrett was located safely in Andalusia Alabama. The family is on the way to pick him up.

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August 1, 2017

A Silver Alert has been issued for an 80-year-old Freeport man and Walton County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in locating him.

Walton County Sheriff’s Office is currently on scene on Kylea

thumbnail_Garrett, Kenneth 2

Laird Drive in reference to Kenneth Garrett, 80, who has been missing since this afternoon.

Garrett was last seen at 15:30 headed west on State Highway 20 from Freeport driving a white 2011 GMC Sierra, standard cab, with Florida tag Y24MAX. He was last seen wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans.

The situation has met the criteria for a Silver Alert to be activated.

If you have any information on Grant’s whereabouts please contact Walton County Sheriff’s Office at (850)-892-8111.

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DEAR RENTERS, TAKE YOUR GUNS WITH YOU WHEN YOU GO

thumbnail_DSC_0002For Immediate Release:

July 31, 2017

Walton County, Fla— The Walton County Sheriff’s Office has a message for those vacationing in our beautiful stretch of paradise.

Take your guns with you when you go.

Over the weekend, Walton County Sheriff’s Deputies picked up seven guns found by cleaning crews at rental properties across the county. Since Memorial Day weekend, 20 guns have been turned into WCSO and listed in found property. This is an alarming number for more than one reason.

The first, it’s only a matter of time before a cleaning crew does not discover the weapon left by previous renters. When new vacationers check-in with children in tow the outcome could be tragic.

Secondly, the weapon could end up in the wrong hands and a crime committed.

We are looking at these instances as an opportunity to spread education to those coming to enjoy our beautiful beaches. Please encourage those who rent from you or those you may know coming on vacation to double check for possessions before departing. If you own a gun, LEADS ONLINE is a great resource for storing valuable information about handguns and other possessions in the event it is lost or stolen.

Of the seven guns left from over the weekend, two individuals have reached out to us to be returned. Guns held past 90 days are sent to be destroyed or are used for training purposes.

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Florida Sheriffs Association Names New Board Leadership

FLORIDA SHERIFF’S ASSOCIATION

JULY 26, 2017

The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA), one of the largest and most successful law-enforcement associations in the nation, is pleased to announce its leadership for the coming year. Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson has been elected President of FSA. Sheriff Adkinson will be responsible for presiding over the association, working with the staff and board of directors to guide the efforts and direction of FSA and its 67 Sheriffs.

“I am thrilled and honored to serve in this once-in-a-lifetime role,” Sheriff Adkinson said. “I hope to make the association and our community proud.”

Sheriff Mike Adkinson is a native of Walton County and is now in his 24th year of working in law enforcement. He has previously worked with the Florida Department of Corrections, Bureau of Parole, the Tallahassee Police Department, and the DeFuniak Springs Police Department. Prior to being elected sheriff, he was appointed as City Marshal/Chief of Police for the DeFuniak Springs City Police Department in September 2005.  Sheriff Adkinson and his wife of 17 years actively raise awareness for Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes and have established a support group, Emerald Coast Type 1, to educate and support their community.

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Sheriff Adkinson is a graduate of Walton Senior High School and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology from Florida State University and a Master’s of Criminal Justice Administration from St. Leo University. He is a graduate of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Chief Executive Seminar #40.

“The association could not have a better leader taking the reins,” said Orange County Sheriff and Immediate Past President Jerry Demings. “Sheriff Adkinson loves his county, his state, his country, and his fellow sheriffs. I am honored to work with him and make his transition seamless.”

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Other FSA board appointments are:

  • Vice President: Sheriff Mark Hunter, Columbia County
  • Secretary: Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Pinellas County
  • Treasurer: Sheriff Bobby Schultz, Gilchrist County
  • Immediate Past President: Sheriff Jerry Demings, Orange County

“Each year, the Florida Sheriffs Association elects a new board of directors to lead our efforts for the coming year and through the legislative session,” said FSA Executive Director Steve Casey. “I have no doubt that the sheriffs elected by their peers to take on this role will lead with the honor and integrity that is the foundation of our association.”

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OVERNIGHT STRUCTURE FIRE DESTROYS FREEPORT MOBILE HOME

For Immediate Release

July 28, 2017

Freeport, Fla— An overnight residential fire destroys an unoccupied mobile home and threatens a nearby camper with residents inside.

At approximately 11:20 PM Thursday night, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office received a call about a mobile home fire on North Street in Freeport. The resident stated that his neighbor’s singlewide mobile home was on fire. The neighbor quickly ran to a camper that was next to the burning mobile home to warn the residents of the nearby structure fire. All occupants managed to escape unharmed.

Walton County Fire Rescue and WCSO deputies arrived on scene to find the mobile home fully engulfed in flames. WCFR firefighters were able to contain the fire within 9 minutes and keep the camper from catching on fire, but the mobile home was completely destroyed.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is currently investigating the cause of the fire, and American Red Cross was called out to assist the residents of the disintegrated mobile home.

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TEXAS TEENS ARRESTED FOLLOWING HIT AND RUN, BURGLARIES, AND THEFT

For Immediate Release

July 26, 2017

Santa Rosa Beach, Fla— Two teenagers who drove from Woodlands, Texas to Walton County are behind bars following a multi-day crime spree beginning early Monday.

At 6am Wednesday multiple residents in the Nature Walk subdivision reported their cars had been burglarized and items missing. In addition, a model home in the community had been vandalized.

While canvassing the area deputies located burned AAA papers in front of 27 Cinnamon Fern Lane near one of the victim’s property. Also located at the rear of the residence was a club head cover identified by a victim as possibly belonging to him.

Parked in the driveway behind the home was a vehicle with damage to the left rear fender. The vehicle matched the plate and description of a car involved in a hit-and-run on Interstate-10 early Monday morning.

Mark Billiot, 18, and Donovan Estrada, 18, were taken into custody from the home. During interviews both admitted to the burglaries.

Further investigation revealed, the two had used “Snapchat” to highlight their activity since arriving in Walton County. In the videos, Billiot and Estrada showoff multiple pairs of Ray-Bans sunglasses, which they claim to have purchased while in Panama City Beach. A Walton County Sheriff’s Office crime analyst discovered the same sunglasses had been stolen from suspects matching the description of Billiot and Estrada from Sunglass Hut at Pier Park in Panama City Beach. Panama City Beach Police was contacted and is following up on the case.

“These two were arrested within hours of the initial call,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “That’s great police work.”

Billiot and Estrada were arrested for burglary; multiple counts of vehicle burglary, criminal mischief over $1,000, and grand theft. More charges could be forthcoming.

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