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5 Points with Sheriff Rick Ramsay

July 01, 2015

The job of Sheriff, once thought of as a local position, now requires a global focus. In addition to fighting the effects of crime in their communities these men and women must work with other law-enforcement agencies on a statewide, federal and even international level to strike at the roots of the problems. We recently sat down with Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay to learn a little more about him and what is happening in his community.

Check out 5 points with Sheriff Ramsay

1. What are some of the most pressing public issues that face your county (or our state), and why?

I would say homelessness is one of the most pressing issues for our county. It is a complicated issue and not an easy one to find a solution for. There are financial concerns, both with housing and caring for the homeless from a community perspective and with the cost of incarcerating homeless people when they are arrested and in jail. Many of our inmates who are homeless come into our facilities with special medical needs and require treatment that adds significantly to the normal daily cost of incarceration. While not all homeless people are violent, we also see a higher incidence of violent crime in the homeless population. And of course there is the issue of mental illness among the homeless – an issue which just serves to complicate things further.

2. What is it about your county that makes it special for visitors?

Monroe County, Florida – the Florida Keys – is a safe, laid back and comfortable place to live, work and visit. Our crime rate is very low, with most crimes being those common to tourist areas – vehicle burglary, theft, fraud. Since we are a chain of islands, our water based activities are one of the things that set us apart from other places. Our reefs are spectacular for snorkeling and diving and the fishing here is tremendous. Couple all of that with weather that is beautiful all year long. It doesn’t get any better than that.

3. Other than law enforcement, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

In my spare time, when I have some, I enjoy the water here in the Florida Keys. Boating, spearfishing and other water activities are what I love to do when I am relaxing.

4. What accomplishments have been made during your service as Sheriff?

During my years as sheriff, I am most proud of the continued reduction in our crime rate here in the Keys. Crime has been going down consistently for 25 years and it has continued to do so during my time a Sheriff. 

My philosophy of making our community cleaner, safer and better through community involvement is also extremely important to me. I believe if we take care of the small issues before they can become big issues, we all benefit. We hold frequent community clean ups and my officers have standing orders to paint out graffiti within 24 hours of seeing it. We have many ways for community members to reach us and we are responsive to their needs, whether it be crime related, or a quality of life issue.

We are also professionally accredited by five different agencies and have recently been awarded “Triple Crown” status by the National Sheriff’s Association. This entails achieving accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement (CALEA), the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections (ACA) and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHA). We are one of only 38  sheriff’s offices in the United States to have attained this status. 

5. Is there a criminal case that still affects you from your years of service? If so, why?

Without singling out a specific case, I have to say there are two types of crimes I feel most strongly about. Crimes against children are simply inexcusable and unforgivable. Those who prey upon our youngest and most vulnerable are the lowest of the low in our society. They destroy young lives, affecting both victims and their families forever.

Narcotics crimes are also of major concern to me. Those who sell drugs and those who are addicted to these illegal substances affect so many aspects of our community. They corrupt the lives of those around them; they often commit more crimes to feed their habits. Illegal drugs affect children, families and our society as a whole. And, if you arrest one drug dealer or user, another one pops up to fill the void. There never seems to be an end to it and it affects all of us in one way or another.