Threatening Emails Sent to Florida Voters

Posted: October 20, 2020
Updated: October 22, 2020

We have received multiple phone calls from local residents regarding threatening emails received by democratic voters allegedly from the “Proud Boys.”

These emails appear to have been sent in an attempt to intimidate voters. Residents are advised not to click on the link included in the email or respond to the email.

This has been an issue throughout the State of Florida and the FBI is actively investigating.

If you receive an email like this, the FBI has requested that reports be made directly to their Threat Tips Operations Center by calling 1-813-253-1000 and selecting option #3.

UPDATE: John Ratcliffe, the Director of National Intelligence, announced that Iran was responsible for the voter intimidation emails received by local residents and voters throughout Florida.

MIssing adult

Published: September 30, 2020

Punta Gorda Police are looking to check on the wellbeing of missing adult Thomas Paul Samsel, a 21 year old white male who left a residence unexpectedly on San Massimo Drive in Punta Gorda on the evening of September 24, 2020. Samsel was last seen wearing blue shorts, maroon t-shirt, socks, and sandals. Samsel is approximately 6′ 2″ tall with sandy brown hair and beard, blue eyes, and a slender build. It is believed that Samsel may be attempting to walk to New Jersey.

Thomas Paul Samsel Photo
Thomas Paul Samsel

If you have any information on this case please contact the Punta Gorda Police Department at 941-639-4111 (reference case #20-02971). If you locate Samsel, please contact your local law enforcement agency.

Punta Gorda Police Department to Host Community Presentation & Discussion

Posted: August 25, 2020

Dr. David Thomas, Florida Gulf Coast University

The Punta Gorda Police Department has partnered with the NAACP to bring the training course The Cost of Bias and its Impact on Policing/Community to our officers. This training will be conducted by Dr. David Thomas, a professor at Florida Gulf Coast University and renowned author of The State of American Policing: Ethics, Implicit Bias, and Credibility.

As part of this process Dr. Thomas will be conducting a community presentation and discussion prior to the officer training in order to answer questions community members have regarding why officers use force, officer and agency accountability, biased policing, internal affairs complaints, and police/minority relations and how these issues relate to the Punta Gorda Police Department and our community.

The community presentation and discussion will be held at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Due to social distancing requirements seating will be limited, the event will be open only to Charlotte County residents, and advanced tickets are required for admission. Tickets will be available at no cost starting on Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. by visiting www.eventbrite.com and will be provided on a first come, first serve basis.

This training is being provided through the George and Mary Chapoutot Trust / Punta Gorda Police Department Endowment Fund in cooperation with the Charlotte Community Foundation and Charlotte State Bank.

Teacher Arrested for Sexual Encounter with Student

Posted: July 10, 2020

Brendan William Toop, a teacher at Charlotte High School, was arrested on a warrant from the Punta Gorda Police Department after turning himself in to the Charlotte County Jail earlier today. Toop was charged with Sexual Battery by Custodian (Victim between 12 and 18 Years of Age) stemming from an investigation of allegations that he had a sexual encounter with a 17 year old female student in his classroom in 2017. The investigation uncovered another alleged victim who did not wish to pursue criminal charges and a possible unknown third victim. He was released on $150,000 bond.

Brendan William Toop

The probable cause affidavit can be downloaded below. Please note that for the protection of the vicims’ identities, names and personally identifying information have been redacted in accordance with Florida public records laws.

If you have any additional information regarding this case, please contact one of our detectives by calling 941-639-4111.

Police Searching for Missing and Endangered Adult

Posted: June 17, 2020
Updated: June 18, 2020

Police are searching for missing and endangered adult , Rosy Luz Almodovar, who suffers from early onset Alzheimer’s. Almodovar rode her bike to the Publix, located at 3941 Tamiami Trail, earlier today. She is seen on camera leaving the store at approximately 3:00 p.m., but never returned to her home on Candia Drive and has not been seen since. Almodovar is believed to be without money or her medication.

Rosy Luz Almodovar

Almodovar is described as a 43 year old Hispanic female, approximately 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing between 150 and 160 pounds. She has short black curly hair. She was last seen wearing a gray short sleeved shirt and black pants.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Rosy Luz Almodovar, please contact the Punta Gorda Police Department at 941-639-4111. If you locate her please contact your local law enforcement agency or dial 9-1-1.

UPDATE: The missing woman was located safe and was returned to her home.

Statement from Chief Davis Regarding Upcoming Protest

Posted: June 3, 2020
Updated: June 5, 2020

In light of recent events throughout our nation of protests that have begun peacefully and ended with rioting, looting, and violence, as well as rumors that have been circulating locally, I felt it was important to address our community regarding the protest that is planned for the evening of Friday, June 5, 2020 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. here in the City of Punta Gorda.

We want our community to know that we fully support and encourage the peaceful protest of our citizens. We have been in close contact with the event organizers and have assured them that we will be present to ensure the safety of those peacefully protesting and to ensure that their constitutional right to gather and protest is not infringed upon.

The organizers of this event have stated, “We are organizing an entirely peaceful protest, therefore no actions of vandalism or violence are permitted in our activities.” We have every reason to believe that they are being sincere. The organizers understand that we too will not condone criminal acts of any kind and they have expressed their support for and cooperation with the police department should we need to intervene in order to protect the safety of the public and those peacefully protesting. We also addressed concerns that citizens have expressed regarding the Vietnam Memorial Wall at Veterans Park. The organizing team responded, “Our message is in no way related to veterans, and we have no intent of even passing by the memorial.”

“We are organizing an entirely peaceful protest, therefore no actions of vandalism or violence are permitted in our activities.”

Protest Event Organization Team

The protest will begin at Laishley Park and will travel down Nesbit Street turning right on East Retta Esplanade. The protest will cross Tamiami Trail North (US 41 North), travel through Downtown Punta Gorda on West Retta Esplanade, cross over Cross Street (US 41 South), and end in the rear parking lot of Punta Gorda City Hall.

The organizers of this event have said that they want to make it clear that to them “Black Lives Matter” is not an “anti-police” philosophy. They believe that “Black Lives Matter” simply means that racial injustice must be eliminated in this country in order to ensure that black lives are always given the same value as others. Treating our citizens with fairness, respect, and impartiality and ending racial injustice are philosophies that I wholeheartedly believe in and I will accept nothing less from my officers.

We have a very special community here in Charlotte County and I am proud to be a part of it. It is important that our citizens know that the Punta Gorda Police Department is dedicated to continuing to listen to our community, work with our community, and stand with our community to keep it that way. In order to show solidarity with our community and those exercising their rights, I plan on walking with the protesters on Friday.

UPDATES: We would like to address several rumors regarding tonight’s planned protest that have been spreading via Nextdoor and other social media platforms.

First, there have been reports of “bricks” located in Downtown Punta Gorda and speculation that they may have been “planted” by groups or individuals hoping to incite rioting and vandalism during the protest. This is NOT accurate information. A small number of pavers had been removed from the sidewalk and set aside as part of an ongoing Florida Department of Transportation project. These pavers were not located on the protest route and have been removed.

Second, there has been a good deal of social media posts about people being “bussed” into Punta Gorda from outside of the area and outside of the state for the protest. We have found no credible information regarding this and it appears to be speculation at this time.

Finally, there has been information being spread that threats have been made toward the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Veterans Park. Additionally, there have been reports that the police department has stated that we will not protect the wall and that we have “called for citizens” to come out to protect the wall. We have found no credible evidence that any threat has been made toward the wall and we have NOT “called for citizens” to come protect the wall. We have spoken with the event organizers regarding this concern. They have assured us that they have no intentions of even going to the wall.

UPDATE: I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers of tonight’s protest as well as to everyone who participated for making this a peaceful, respectful, and meaningful event. I would also like to thank the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, Punta Gorda Fire Department, and Charlotte County Fire & EMS for their assistance in helping to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Official Joint Statement from NAACP, CCSO, and PGPD

Posted: June 2, 2020

Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell, Punta Gorda Police Chief Pam Davis, and President of the Charlotte County branch of the NAACP Reverend Louis Anderson, met recently to discuss our community’s response to the situation that has developed nationwide as a result of the killing of George Floyd by a former Minneapolis police officer.

The group discussed agency policies and procedures, training, and accountability reviews pertaining to use of force, de-escalation, protests, and internal affairs. The protection of the constitutional rights and safety of peaceful protesters was also discussed.

All three agencies, which have been working closely together for many years as members of the Community Task Force, have renewed their commitment to communication and cooperation for the betterment and protection of our community.

“It is so important that we continue to keep those lines of communication open with our community leaders during this difficult time.”

Chief Pam Davis, Punta Gorda Police Department

Chief Davis says, “Our partnership with Reverend Anderson and the NAACP has had a very positive impact on the police department’s relationship with our community. It is so important that we continue to keep those lines of communication open with our community leaders during this difficult time.”

It is important for the community to know that we hear you. We believe in your constitutional right to peacefully protest and we understand the pain our nation is feeling. Our goal is to keep the peace while your voices are being heard.

We live in a wonderful community with leaders who collaborate to discuss the concerns of our community members. Our job as law enforcement is to protect and serve all members of this great community.

“We are committed to protecting the constitutional rights of every community member and believe in the strength that our community has shown time and time again. Our hope is that we can come together as one and demonstrate what a unified community is capable of. Our strength is in our people,” states Sheriff Bill Prummell.

“Our goal is to achieve the equality of right and eliminate race prejudice among all citizens of our community,” says Reverend Anderson. “With this transparency between our law enforcement agencies, I am confident that we will have positive change moving forward. Let us continue to pray as we strive together to make a difference.”

Statement from Chief Davis Regarding the Death of Mr. George Floyd

Posted: May 30, 2020

On behalf of the entire Punta Gorda Police Department, I want to let the community know that we are appalled over the actions of the officers involved in the death of Mr. George Floyd. I want to ensure all of our community members that the Punta Gorda Police Department does not train our officers to use any tactics that involve kneeling or applying pressure on the neck of an individual. Purposely using these tactics would be considered deadly force. Our department’s organizational values; integrity, excellence, teamwork, fairness and impartiality, and respect are deeply entrenched within our agency at every level. We strongly believe in treating everyone as human beings. We value the sanctity of human life and we have incorporated de-escalation and the duty to intervene within our policies and training over the past few years. We will continue to hold ourselves accountable in the protection of the constitutional rights of everyone we serve and in treating everyone fairly.

Our hearts go out to the families and friends of Mr. Floyd. His death was senseless and wrong. Our profession has been tarnished once more because of the actions of these officers. I have spoken with our local NAACP President, Reverend Louis Anderson, and we will be meeting in person to further discuss this situation. I ask that our community members continue to partner with us to maintain the highest level of trust and that we work together to make sure the needs of our community are being met.

Beware of Coronavirus Scams

Posted: March 26, 2020

Many scammers are taking advantage of concerned and frightened citizens during the coronavirus pandemic. It is important that everyone remain extra diligent to ensure that they do not fall victim to any of these scams. Here are some tips that will help you protect your money and your identity:

  • Beware of emails claiming to offer information from Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other health and medical sources. For the most up-to-date statewide and local information visit the Florida Department of Health at www.floridahealth.gov, for national information visit the CDC at www.cdc.gov, and for international information visit the World Health Organization at www.who.int.
  • Do not respond to emails, phone calls, or text messages about stimulus checks from the government. These are only attempts to gain your personal information.
  • Many scammers are selling fake vaccinations, medications, remedies, cures, and test kits for coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Don’t fall for these offers! At this time there are no FDA authorized home test kits for coronavirus. For more information visit www.fda.gov.
  • Buy from reputable online sellers. Many online scammers are offering hard to find cleaning and sanitizing products or health and safety equipment such as masks and gloves. These items may be fake or you may pay and never receive your items at all. Make sure you know who you are buying from.
  • Do your homework regarding charitable donations. Many scammers take advantage of people’s generosity during times of crisis. If you want to help, donate to legitimate and established organizations and never make donations by sending cash, purchasing gift cards, or by wiring money.

If you believe you may have been the victim of a coronavirus scam, please call the Punta Gorda Police Department at 941-639-4111 or your local law enforcement agency.

Punta Gorda Police Department’s Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted: March 24, 2020
Update: June 1, 2020

The Punta Gorda Police Department is taking action to minimize the risk for both emergency personnel and the public as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. First responders make contact with many people through the day, respond to medical calls, and are at a much higher risk of infection than the general public. Not only is it important to minimize the risk to first responders in order to keep them available, but also to minimize the interactions they have with the public to avoid unintentional transmission to our most vulnerable population. Effective immediately the police department has enacted the following changes to our procedures:

  • The public safety building lobby is open only for emergency situations or when other means of contact are not available. We ask that community members needing to make a non-emergency report call 941-639-4111 rather than coming to the police department. If possible, please call during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.) For emergencies, dial 9-1-1 anytime.
  • Non-emergency reports that do not require an in-person officer response will be handled over the phone to eliminate unnecessary social contact.
  • When an in-person officer response is necessary, officers will be asking that callers step outside to make the report whenever feasible. This will reduce the chances of transmitting illness. Officers will only enter residences and businesses when absolutely necessary.
  • We will no longer be responding to certain public services such as VIN verifications. These can be completed by any licensed auto dealer, tax collector or FLHSMV employee, or notary public.
  • We will no longer be responding to minor parking lot crashes. Florida allows most minor crashes to be self-reported either online or by mail. For more information and instructions, please visit www.flhsmv.gov/traffic-crash-reports.
  • The police department’s records unit window will be closed. Records requests can be made online by visiting www.pgpdrecords.com or by mailing your records request to PGPD Records Unit, 1410 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda, FL 33950.

We appreciate all of the support we have received from the community and for everyone’s cooperation and understanding during this difficult time.

UPDATE: As of June 1, 2020 the Punta Gorda Police Department lobby is open to the public. However, we encourage anyone utilizing the lobby to wear a mask and practice social distancing whenever possible. We will still not be able to provide fingerprinting services due to CDC guidelines.