July 10, 2023 - The Key West Police Department and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office are teaming up for another National Night Out family event. On Tuesday, August 1st, from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m., we invite the community to come meet our first responders who keep us all safe. The Lower Keys event will be held at Bayview Park in Key West. Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will also host events at the Aviation Hangar in Marathon, Founder’s Park in Islamorada, and at the Key Largo Community Park.
This national annual event is aimed at increasing awareness about assets and resources in the community. There will be an exciting array of displays and equipment used by police, firefighters, as well as our military and community partners. There will be everything from special teams, fire trucks and boats to dogs, horses and more at this great family event. The kids will love the animals from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Farm! There will also be music, free food and beverages.
The Bayview Park National Night Out is a convenient location for residents of all ages to come see what we do and meet your local first responders. It dovetails with events held across the nation, including those hosted by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in the Upper and Middle Keys.
On Friday, May 19th the community paid tribute to those brave men and women in law enforcement who have fallen in the line of duty. The annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service was held at Bayview Park in Key West.
Hosted by the Key West Police Department and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the ceremony included a traditional laying of the wreath, Taps, and a 21-gun salute.
Bishop Derrick Anderson gave the invocation. Key West Vice Mayor Samuel Kaufman read the City of Key West proclamation recognizing both National Police Week, and the Memorial. County Commissioner Jim Scholl read the county’s proclamation. Then, MCSO Capt. David Smith and KWPD Capt. Randy Smith read the names of the officers lost in the line of duty in Monroe County.
Nationally, 246 officers died in the line of duty in 2022. In Florida, seven officers were killed in the line of duty. Monroe County did not lose an officer in the line of duty during 2022.
“Our community has been blessed for another year in not adding names to the national roster of lost lives,” said Key West Police Captain Randy Smith. “And we honor those members of the Key West Police Department and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office who, in years past, made the ultimate sacrifice so we could be here today.”
The names of Keys officers who have died in the line of duty were read as a special remembrance during the ceremony:
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Capt. David Smith praised the officers who put their lives on the line each and every day.
“We also pay a very special tribute to the surviving family members who are still with us today,” he added. “I want to encourage everyone to keep telling the stories of our fallen heroes so, their light will always shine.”
The Gardens Hotel owner Kate Miano presented the Key West Police Mounted Unit with a check for over $3,000 -- funds raised in the May Derby Day fundraiser at the hotel.
Miano has hosted this annual fundraiser since 2017. Each year she has generously donated to the Mounted Unit after hosting the event that coincides with the Kentucky Derby.
The Mounted Unit is one of the most popular units of the Key West Police Department. These equestrian officers provide a daily presence that is particularly beneficial downtown and with crowds.
The Ashbritt Foundation today made a generous donation to the K9 Relief Fund of Key West. County Commissioner Holly Raschein, on behalf of Ashbritt, presented Chief Sean Brandenburg with a check for $16,000.
The fund was founded by philanthropists Becca and Tom Ahrensfeld to support the working dogs of the Key West Police Department. Since there is no retirement plan for police dogs, this fund helps the officers with the expenses of owning a dog after it retires.
“We are thrilled to accept this generous donation on behalf of the K9 Relief Fund,” said Chief Brandenburg. “And we are grateful to the Ahrensfelds for their amazing support of our K9 Unit. As a former handler myself, I can attest to the importance of caring for these dogs when they retire.”
K-9 officers are a vital part of the department, assisting with suspect pursuits, narcotics investigations and more. A canine has the ability to smell over 100,000 times stronger than a human, so a properly trained police dog can save a department some 600 to 1000 man-hours every year. The dogs face dangers just like their human counterparts including potential gunshot risks or other injuries, and life-threatening exposure to fentanyl and other dangerous substances.
There is no retirement plan for police dogs although they can, in retirement, experience a variety of health issues including separation anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. A full 100 percent of a retired dog’s expenses fall on the handler. That includes all food, medication, and vet bills.
The current City of Key West dogs are Jigsaw, a German shepherd born in Slovakia on December 17, 2017 and handled by Officer Tommy Anglin; Mango, a yellow Labrador retriever born in Mexico and handled by Sgt. Jesse Hammers; and Dexter, a German shepherd born in Florida in 2014 and handled by Officer Matt Hansell.
The fund is managed by the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys. For more information, check out their website at cffk.org/K9.
In the photo: Standing: Lt. Billy Vazquez, Commissioners Mary Lou Hoover, Lissette Carey and Jimmy Weekley, Chief Sean Brandenburg, Mayor Teri Johnston, Vice Mayor Sam Kaufman, Capt. Jason Castillo, Commissioners Clayton Lopez and Billy Wardlow, and Chief’s Executive Assistant Floyd Jenkins. Kneeling: Officer Ivan Golovanov, Sgt. Joe Stockton, Sgt. Karl Malsheimer, K9 Officer Matthew Hansell, and Communications Supervisor Jack Burns.
May 4, 2022 - Mayor Teri Johnston and the Key West City Commission, during this week’s meeting, proclaimed May 19th as Police Officers’ Memorial Day and the week of May 15th as Key West Police Week.
“As a City we rely on law enforcement officers to keep our neighborhoods safe, enforce our laws, and respond in times of crisis,” reads the proclamation. “These men and women sustain peace and order in our community. They routinely put their lives on the line to defend ours, and the price of bravery may result in injury, disability, or death.”
During this week, the nation honors the extraordinary service and sacrifice by law enforcement officers and memorializes those fallen heroes whose selfless acts have left behind safer streets and stronger communities.
On Friday, May 19th the community will have the opportunity to pay tribute to those brave men and women who have fallen in the line of duty. The annual Law Enforcement Day Memorial Service begins at 5 p.m. at Bayview Park in Key West.
April 6, 2023 - For many people in our community, they’re nameless, faceless voices. Some of us are lucky enough to never have to talk to them. But when we need them, they're always there. These voices calmly extract information from people whose lives are suddenly turned upside down. These voices ensure that help arrives quickly. They are the unsung heroes behind all emergency responders: the telecommunicators.
Next week – April 9th through the 15th -- is National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. These dedicated professionals are on hand 24 hours a day to ensure that any emergency or crisis is dispatched quickly. Every day they calmly and professionally ensure that help is on the way.
“This week is a chance for the community to thank these men and women who work tirelessly during emergencies,” said Key West Police Chief Sean Brandenburg. “Please take a moment to thank these important members of the community who deal with each crisis with dedicated professionalism.”
April 3, 2023 - The Key West Police Department is proud to support the Autism Society of the Keys (ASK) to help advocate, educate, and support their mission of helping families affected by autism.
The organization’s current campaign? Selling 250 stuffed toy replicas of our K9 Jigsaw, named for the puzzle pieces that represent autism. Jigsaw came to the department with the financial support of Tom and Becca Ahrensfeld approximately three years ago.
The community can also help support ASK by purchasing KWPD autism awareness patches and challenge coins. Hope Haley, the wife of Lt. Matt Haley, is leading this drive. Both the patches and coins are available on eBay.
“Our officers are all trained to understand the special needs of people with autism,” said Chief Sean Brandenburg. “Each vehicle carries a sensory box to help improve communications during a stressful situation. With this training and equipment, we are able to help in any number of scenarios, whether the individual is prone to run or even non-verbal. Our school resource officers’ cars are wrapped with the autism awareness puzzle pieces and, during April, our officers wear a blue badge and autism patches, all to improve community awareness.”
Chief Sean Brandenburg last week swore in a newly promoted lieutenant and a newly promoted sergeant. Lt. Bill Vazquez was promoted from Special Investigations Sergeant to Night Watch Patrol Lieutenant. Sgt. Karl Malsheimer was promoted from General Case Detective to Night Watch Sergeant.
Both gentlemen were born and raised in Key West. Lt. Vazquez joined the department in 2012 and is following in his father Alfredo Vazquez’s shoes in law enforcement. Capt. Alfredo Vazquez retired from the Key West Police Department after 30 years of service.
Sgt. Malsheimer came to the department in 2011 and has served with distinction. Both he and Lt. Vazquez have garnered numerous commendations, including the Life Saving Award.
“Lt. Vazquez and Sgt. Malsheimer have earned these positions,” said Chief Brandenburg. “I’m proud of their service and have full confidence in their leadership of the men and women of the Key West Police Department.”
Key West Police Chief Sean Brandenburg on Monday promoted Lt. Dave Black to the rank of Captain, an honor signifying his last day with the department after more than 25 years of dedicated service.
Capt. Black joined the department in May of 1998 after serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2002 and to lieutenant in 2006, serving as the commander of the Special Operations bureau.
In this role he oversaw the Marine Unit, the Motor Unit, the Special Response Team, the Dive Team, and the Mounted Unit. He served for many years as the lieutenant of the Detectives Division.
Capt. Black’s dedicated commitment and work as an officer led to the formation of the K9 Unit as well as the Special Response Team.
The crowd that turned out for his promotion ceremony was a testament to the close bonds Capt. Black has built with his colleagues and with the community.
“It has truly been an honor to serve with Dave Black,” said Chief Brandenburg. “He is a dedicated leader who has mentored many officers in this department. He leads by example. We wish him well in his future endeavors, but he will be missed by the Key West Police Department.”
The Key West Police Department is honored to be awarded the Key West Business Guild's President's Award. The award was presented in recognition of the department's dedication to the protection and support of the LGBTQIA+ community.
“We are humbled by this honor,” said Chief Sean Brandenburg. “The men and women of the Key West Police Department are dedicated to serving our One Human Family.”
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