A Message from Punta Gorda Public Safety

Posted: October 3, 2022

The Punta Gorda Police & Fire Departments are working hard to address the public safety needs of our city residents. We have been working around the clock to respond to calls for service, check on the welfare of our citizens, respond to medical calls, and deter criminal activity that will inevitability occur as a result of a natural disaster.

Both the police and fire departments have all personnel working without days off to ensure we can address the needs of our community in this very difficult time. We would like to remind you to be good neighbors by checking on each other. Be patient. Resources are limited and there will be long lines.

As power is restored, many businesses will be able to re-open including gas stations, so it will get better. If you do not need to be on the streets, please remain home to help workers restore our infrastructure. There is still a curfew in place, which will be strictly enforced and violators will be subject to arrest.

Many of our first responders have not been home or seen their families. They are working hard to keep you safe and we will continue to work hard throughout this trying time.

Be cognizant of scams and unethical people offering to repair your homes. You should use reputable licensed contractors. Contact our non-emergency number at 941-639-4111 if you have any questions about scams. Please do not run generator inside your home or any enclosed area.

We are all in this together and we are Punta Gorda strong!

Homestead Police Department Arrives to Assist in Punta Gorda

Posted: September 30, 2022

A team from the Homestead Police Department arrived at the Public Safety Complex this morning to provide support to the Punta Gorda Police Department and community in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Residents may see Homestead police officers when they call the police department for service or are out in the community while we continue recovery efforts. The officers are functioning as Punta Gorda police officers during the State of Emergency.

“We are extremely grateful to Chief Rolle, the Homestead Police Department, and the Florida Police Chief’s Association for their immediate and generous response,” said Chief Davis. Before the storm had even passed I received a call from Homestead letting me know that help would be coming. There support will help the department and community immensely as we continue our post-storm response.”

Emergency Services to be Suspended During Storm

Posted: September 27, 2022

When we begin seeing sustained winds in excess of 45 miles per hour or higher in our area, all emergency services in the City of Punta Gorda will be suspended. Emergency and non-emergency phone lines will still be open for calls, but police and fire response will not be possible until the storm has passed. Once it is safe to resume emergency response calls will be answered in order of priority. There may be serious delays in response even after the storm has passed depending on damage, road blockage, and flood waters.

Investigation Determines No Specific Threat to Charlotte High School

Posted: August 19, 2022

Last night the Punta Gorda Police Department received several calls from parents regarding a Facebook post that stated that a student had threatened to “shoot up” Charlotte High School today. This potential threat was immediately investigated by the Punta Gorda Police Department with the assistance of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. After a thorough investigation it was determined that the threat was unfounded and that no specific threat had been made against Charlotte High School or any specific individual.

“We take any threat against our schools incredibly seriously. We will always investigate potential threats thoroughly and will take any action necessary to protect our students and school staff. We want to again remind students, school personnel, and parents to always report potential threats or suspicious activity to law enforcement,” said Chief Pam Davis.

Suspicious activity or threats can be reported directly to law enforcement or through the FortifyFL tip line.

Punta Gorda Police Department Receives Eighth Reaccreditation and Fourth Excelsior Award

In April of 2022 the Punta Gorda Police Department hosted a team of assessors from the Commission on Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA). Law enforcement accreditation is the certification by an independent reviewing authority that the police department is in compliance with approximately 235 prescribed standards. These standards help to ensure that agencies are using best practices in their policies and procedures. Every three years accredited agencies undergo an assessment where all aspects of the police department are examined to ensure compliance.

On June 16, 2022, the Punta Gorda Police Department went in front of the CFA in Orlando, Florida, who voted unanimously to reaccredit the police department. As this was our eighth reaccreditation without conditions the department also received our fourth Excelsior Award. The police department was first accredited in 1998 and has remained accredited since that time. We believe that accreditation is important for the department and our community and are proud to be an Excelsior Agency.

Officer Richards and K9 Sasha represent the K9 Team during the static display.
Members of the Volunteer Bike Patrol discussed their equipment and services they provide the community.
Officer Gorman representing the Uniformed Patrol Section to the assessors.

Fourth of July Traffic

Posted: June 28, 2022

This year’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration will be held at Laishley Park on Sunday, July 3rd. There will be several traffic changes implemented Sunday night in an effort to minimize traffic congestion after the fireworks display as follows:

  • Traffic leaving from the areas east of Tamiami Trail (US-41 North), including Laishley Park, will be directed south to East Olympia Avenue (US-17 East) and then east to I-75. Traffic can then go north or south on the interstate. Traffic leaving from this area will not be able to access Tamiami Trail (US-41).
  • Traffic leaving from the areas west of Tamiami Trail (US-41 North), except as specified below, will be directed to Cross Street (US-41 South). Traffic may then continue south toward Fort Myers or will be allowed to turn east onto Carmalita Street, north on Cooper Street, and east on East Olympia Avenue (US-17 East) toward I-75. Traffic man then go north or south on the interstate.
  • Traffic leaving from City Market Place will be directed north on to Tamiami Trail (US-41 North) toward Port Charlotte.
  • Traffic leaving the Herald Court Center parking garage will not be permitted to turn right toward Tamaimi Trail (US-41 North). Traffic will need to turn left towards Taylor Street and will be directed one of two ways depending on traffic congestion. Traffic may be directed to West Olympia Avenue (US-17 East) toward I-75 where traffic may go north or south on the interstate. Traffic may also be directed to West Marion Avenue (US-17 East) toward Cross Street (US-41 South) where traffic may then continue south toward Fort Myers or will be allowed to turn east onto Carmalita Street, north on Cooper Street, and east on East Olympia Avenue (US-17 East) toward I-75.

Please keep in mind that thousands of people come into Punta Gorda to see the fireworks display and most people are trying to leave at the same time. These changes are meant to minimize congestion, but there is no way to eliminate it. We do expect substantial delays that can last one to two hours after the fireworks display ends, so please plan accordingly!

In addition to the traffic changes it is also important to note that the Laishley boat ramp will be closed beginning 30 minutes prior to the fireworks display. However, the Ponce Park boat ramp will remain open until midnight to provide an alternative to residents and visitors.

We hope that everyone has a safe, happy, and fun Independence Day!

Welfare Check on Individual Sleeping in Vehicle Leads to Drug Trafficking Arrest

Posted: May 13, 2022

On May 13, 2022, just before 4:30 a.m., officers conducted a welfare check on an individual that was found sleeping in their vehicle in the parking lot of Downtown Gatorz, located at 502 King Street. The individual, later identified as Jeremy Allen Jones of Port Charlotte, acted suspiciously and pulled out a large amount of cash tied in rubber bands from the center console when asked if he had identification.

Jones consented to a search of his vehicle. Officers located a gym bag in the backseat area of the vehicle behind the center console. When the bag was opened, an unknown powdery substance blew into an officer’s face. The officer was transported to the hospital for evaluation. Upon further inspection the bag was found to contain more than 497 grams of methamphetamine and 133 grams of crack cocaine packaged in individual bags for resale. In addition, the bag contained more than 65 grams of marijuana, four hydrocodone pills, an unknown brown powdery substance, an unknown multicolored substance, digital scales, cellphones, and small plastic bags. During a search of the rest of the vehicle officers located more than $7,600 in cash in small bills packaged and separated by denomination in rubber bands.

The officer was not injured during the incident and was released from the hospital after observation. Jones was placed under arrest, transported to the Charlotte County Jail, and charged with Trafficking Methamphetamine, Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Sell, Possession of a Controlled Substance without a Prescription, Possession of Marijuana, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. The unknown substances will be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime lab for analysis.

Five Arrested for Fentanyl After Search Warrant

Posted: May 3, 2022

After a several weeks long investigation, the Punta Gorda Police Department, with the assistance of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit, executed a search warrant on the home located at 7541 Coco Plum in Punta Gorda. During the search warrant, more than seven grams of fentanyl was located throughout the home.

Seven grams of fentanyl located in the home.

Five individuals, Scott Fraser Baer, Jr. of Punta Gorda, Jamie Erin Michael of Fort Myers, Scott Anthony Starkey of Sarasota, Katie Rose Buongiorno of Port Charlotte, and Sean McHugh Baer of Punta Gorda were arrested and charged with Possession of Fentanyl and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Scott Baer was also charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance for other illegal drugs found in his possession. All individuals were booked into the Charlotte County Jail.

UPDATE: It was discovered that Jamie Erin Michael had originally provided officers with her sister’s name and identification. Once at the jail it was discovered that she had a warrant for her arrest for Violation of Probation regarding a DUI charge. She was charged on the warrant and an additional charge of Providing False ID to a Law Enforcement Officer.

Beware of Anti-virus Software Scams

Posted: February 22, 2022

The Punta Gorda Police Department has been receiving multiple reports of an anti-virus scam email that has been circulating recently. In this scam, the victim receives an email stating that their anti-virus software is scheduled to automatically renew and that the victim’s credit card will be charged for the renewal (typically $500.00). The email then states that if the victim does not wish to renew the software they should call a listed phone number. When victims call the number an individual posing as a software employee talks them into providing access to their computer. Once the scammer has access to the computer they find personal information on bank, investment, or credit card accounts that they use to steal money from the victim.

If you receive an email like this, please delete it. If you are an established customer of an anti-virus software company and are unsure if the email is legitimate, please go to your software company’s website and use the information found there to contact them to confirm. Never click on any link or call any telephone number you receive in an unsolicited email.

Motorcycle Crash Fatality in Punta Gorda

Posted: February 16, 2022

On February 15, 2022 at approximately 6:45 p.m. officers responded to the intersection of Tamiami Trail North (US-41 North) and West Retta Esplanade in reference to a traffic crash between a pickup truck and a motorcycle. The driver of the motorcycle, 29 year old Austyn Marquis Richards of Port Charlotte, was transported to Shorepoint Health Punta Gorda where he was pronounced deceased. There were no other injuries reported.

The crash is still under investigation by Traffic Homicide Investigators and further details are unavailable at this time.