First Responders Save Life at Charlotte High Soccer Game

Published: December 20, 2019

On December 12, 2019 Officer Chris Owensby, a School Resource Officer at Charlotte High School was working an extra-duty detail for a boys soccer game. Officer Terry Chow, a School Resource Officer at Punta Gorda Middle School, was attending the game off-duty. During the game the referee collapsed on the field. Both Officer Owensby and Officer Chow, along with a medical professional who had also been attending the game, called for the Fire Department and EMS to respond and rushed to the patient. While attending to the patient he stopped breathing and Officer Chow began administering CPR with assistance from the medical professional. An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) was used and one shock was administered to the patient who began breathing, but remained unconscious. The Punta Gorda Fire Department and Charlotte County EMS responded and transported the patient to the hospital.

Officer Terry Chow & Officer Chris Owensby

The patient remains in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery thanks to the quick actions of first responders.




Holiday Safety Tips

Posted: December 6, 2019

The holidays are a time for joy and giving, but unfortunately can create ideal circumstances for criminals. Shoppers rushing around stressing to find the perfect gifts, purchased left in vehicles, and people traveling or away from home for holiday events can fill criminals with holiday joy as well. In addition, holiday parties tend to lead to an increase of drinking and driving.

To help ensure that everyone has a safe and happy holiday season the Punta Gorda Police Department will be providing increased holiday patrols throughout the month of December. This will include increased police presence downtown and in our commercial shopping districts, as well as dedicated DUI patrols. Here are some of the things you can do to keep safe and avoid becoming a victim this holiday season:

When You Are Shopping:

  • Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings;
  • Park in well-lit areas making sure that gifts and valuables are out of sight and your vehicle doors are locked;
  • If shopping with children make sure they have been taught to seek out a store clerk, security guard, or police officer should they become separated from you;
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash when shopping. Pay with credit cards or checks when possible.

When You Are Away From Home:

  • Get an automatic timer for your lights;
  • Have mail and newspaper delivery stopped while you will be away;
  • Ask a neighbor to keep an eye out for unexpected packages, flyers, etc. Having items sitting outside your home for an extended period of time is a sure indicator to criminals that your home is vacant;
  • Be very careful about what you post on social media and who can see it. Criminals have become very savvy using social media. Posting information or photos about your travel plans can inform criminals that your home is unoccupied.

When You Are Out for the Evening:

  • Make sure that doors and windows are closed and locked;
  • Leave lights and a TV turned on so it appears that someone is still home;
  • Keep gifts and valuables where they cannot be seen through windows or make sure that window coverings are closed;
  • If you may be drinking alcohol while you are out designate a sober driver, plan on calling a taxi, or utilize a ride share service. Never drive when you are intoxicated, even buzzed driving is drunk driving.

Other Safety Tips:

  • The holidays are the ideal time for package thefts. Have packages delivered where someone will be able to receive them such as your workplace or a neighbor or family member’s house. You can also ask the post office to hold your packages until you are able to pick them up yourself;
  • After the gifts have been open avoid advertising the valuables inside your home by putting out packages for televisions, computers, or other expensive items. Instead break down boxes and packaging and put them in garbage bags or cans;
  • Criminals often prey on people’s generosity during the holiday season by soliciting for “charitable donations” either door-to-door, by phone, or online. Only do your holiday giving directly to legitimate charitable organizations that you know and trust.

We hope that everyone has a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!




City Launches Alert Punta Gorda

Posted: October 22, 2019

The City of Punta Gorda has implemented Alert Punta Gorda, a new public safety emergency alert and community notification system. Alert Punta Gorda will allow the Punta Gorda Police Department and Punta Gorda Fire Department to contact the community in emergency situations that require the public’s immediate attention such as:

Natural Disasters (hurricanes, floods, fires, etc.)
Man-Made Disasters (chemical spills, gas leaks, etc.)
Search and Rescues (missing children, endangered adults, etc.)
Public Safety Issues (escaped criminal, bank robbery, etc.)

In addition to emergency alerts, users can also choose to receive non-emergency community notifications such as:

Sexual Offender Notifications
• Missing Person Notifications
• Traffic Advisories
• Police Activity Notifications

Alert Punta Gorda Logo

You can sign up by visiting www.AlertPuntaGorda.com and creating an account. Once your account is created you can choose whether you want to want to receive alerts through a home or business phone call, mobile phone call, email, text message, or through the Everbridge mobile phone app (available through the Apple App Store or Google Play). You will automatically be signed up to receive emergency alerts and can sign up to receive non-emergency alerts based on your preferences. You can change your contact information and notification preferences at any time or can stop receiving alerts simply be removing your information from your account.

We encourage all of our residents to sign up to ensure that they receive important information in a timely manner. Also, if you signed up when the system was initially launched, we encourage you to log into your account to make sure that you have selected any non-emergency notifications that you may want to receive.




Punta Gorda Police and ABT Team Up for Underage Alcohol Sales Sweep

Posted: October 21, 2019

Punta Gorda Police Detectives and State Investigators from the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT) Bureau of Law Enforcement teamed up on Thursday, October 17, 2019 for an enforcement sweep in the City of Punta Gorda targeting the sales of alcoholic beverages to minors. The operation included compliance checks at fourteen local commercial establishments in the City of Punta Gorda licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. Thirteen of the fourteen establishments were found to be in compliance.

Florida ABT & Punta Gorda Police

The commercial establishments that were found to be in compliance and did NOT sell alcohol to a minor were:

  • Antar’s Food Mart / Marathon (1002 Tamiami Trail)
  • PGI Liquor (615 Cross Street)
  • Old Town Convenience (311 West Marion Avenue)
  • Circle K / Shell (3035 Tamiami Trail)
  • 7 Eleven (3139 Tamiami Trail)
  • Walgreens (3795 Tamiami Trail)
  • Circle K / Mobil (3949 Tamiami Trail)
  • Publix (3941 Tamiami Trail)
  • Sunoco (10001 Burnt Store Road)
  • Wal-Mart Liquor (5001 Taylor Road)
  • Murphy Oil (29359 Jones Loop Road)
  • CVS (1949 Tamiami Trail)
  • Publix (2310 Tamiami Trail)

The commercial establishment that was found NOT to be in compliance and DID sell alcohol to a minor was:

  • Dollar General (1300 Tamiami Trail)

This operation was the result of a continuing partnership between ABT and the Punta Gorda Police Department to curb the illegal sale of alcoholic beverages and tobacco to minors. The Punta Gorda Police Department, along with Drug Free Charlotte County and ABT, will continue to work constructively with local retail establishments where violations occur to ensure that employees are educated regarding Florida law. Operations like this one will continue.

Chief Pam Davis urges all individuals to report the illegal sale of alcoholic beverages and tobacco to law enforcement. Violations within the incorporated city limits of Punta Gorda can be reported to the Punta Gorda Police Department by calling 941-639-4111.




Police Investigating Multiple Vehicle Burglaries and Stolen Vehicle in Punta Gorda Isles (Updated)

Original Post: September 26, 2019 @ 10:00 a.m,
Last Updated: October 1, 2019 @ 10:30 a.m.

The Punta Gorda Police Department is currently investigating several vehicle burglaries and a vehicle theft that occurred last night in Punta Gorda Isles.

At approximately 2:45 a.m. officers located a pickup truck behind Bal Harbor Plaza that had been listed as stolen out of Estero, Florida. At approximately 6:45 a.m. officers began responding to reports of several vehicle burglaries and a vehicle theft in the area of Ryan Boulevard, including St. Kitts Court, Carupano Court, and Aruba Court. Currently officers have responded to four vehicle burglaries. It is believed that these crimes and the vehicle recovered behind Bal Harbor Plaza are related.

PGPD Crime Scene Van on St. Kitts Court

All of the vehicles that had been burglarized had been left unlocked so no forced entry occurred. It has been reported that several small items or change had been taken from those vehicles.

The stolen vehicle, a 2018 white in color Volkswagen SUV, was taken from the 5000 block of La Costa Island Court. The vehicle is believed to have been unlocked with the keys inside the vehicle. The stolen vehicle was last seen in the Fort Myers area near Interstate 75 and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

UPDATE (October 1, 2019): The Punta Gorda Police Department received reports of a total of thirteen vehicles that had been entered that night. The vehicle stolen from Punta Gorda was recovered in Fort Myers, Florida and has been processed for evidence. Also, a resident in the area caught the suspects attempting to open their locked vehicle on their security camera.

Burglary Suspects

Detectives and Crime Scene are continuing to investigate. Anyone with information on these crimes are encouraged to contact Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-780-TIPS or by visiting www.southwestfloridacrimestoppers.com. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward for information leading to an arrest.




Police Looking for Missing and Endangered Adult

Original Post: September 27, 2019 @ 1:10 p.m.

The Punta Gorda Police Department is attempting to locate 70 year old missing and endangered adult, Clarence Cole, who left his apartment on the 1200 block of Taylor Road in Punta Gorda on September 22, 2019 and has not returned. Cole suffers from a medical condition, which could be life threatening without proper treatment.

Clarence Cole / Missing and Endangered Adult

Cole is 5’ 7” and weighs approximately 200 pounds. He has short gray hair and was last seen wearing a white shirt and tan shorts. Cole was seen driving the 2019 maroon Ford rental sedan pictured below in the Fort Myers area and may still be in the Lee County Area, possible North Fort Myers.

2019 Maroon Ford Sedan

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




Punta Gorda Police Department Awarded Federal Body Worn Camera Grant

The Punta Gorda Police Department is one of only thirty-two agencies, in its category, nationwide awarded the Body Worn Camera (BWC) Policy and Implementation Program to Support Law Enforcement Agencies from the U.S. Department of Justice. The grant funding of $67,019 will be used to offset the cost of the budgeted body camera program scheduled to be implemented in 2020.

The police department began working last year toward developing a body worn camera program and has budgeted $134,038 over the next five years to fully implement the program. The grant would cover 50% of the entire cost of the program, which is the maximum amount allowed under the grant specifications.

Body worn camera programs have been successful in agencies across the county and have proven to help improve the prosecution of criminal cases and can assist officers in de-escalating situations by neutralizing defiant attitudes and behaviors by individuals who know they are being recorded.

“We also believe that body worn cameras will help increase transparency and ensure that our officers continue to maintain the high level of professionalism that our community has come to expect,” says Chief Pam Davis.

Body worn cameras can also help agencies improve tactics, communication, and customer services by providing training opportunities and identifying areas where additional training may be necessary.

The police department has been researching several camera options and are currently testing the body camera by Axon Enterprise, Inc., the same company that developed Taser.

Punta Gorda officer wearing one of the cameras being tested.




Missing and Endangered Man Located Safe

Original Post: September 7, 2019 @ 6:00 PM
Last Update: September 7, 2019 @ 9:40 PM

The Punta Gorda Police Department is attempting to locate twenty-three year old Luis Jose Fonseca, a missing and endangered adult who escaped from Riverside Behavioral Center in Punta Gorda around 3:45 p.m. this afternoon. Fonseca is 5’ 10” tall and was last seen wearing a gray “Cheech and Chong” t-shirt and black jeans.

There is no reason to believe that Fonseca is any danger to the public. It is believed that he has family in Port Charlotte and may be headed back to that area. If seen, please contact your local law enforcement agency. If you have any information about his whereabouts, please contact the Punta Gorda Police Department at 941-649-4111.

UPDATE: The missing individual has been located and is safe.

Luis Jose Fonseca / Missing Adult




Punta Gorda Police Department’s New Narcan® Program Revives Overdose Patient

Original Post: August 3, 2019

On Sunday, September 1, 2019 Officer Russell responded to an address on Mediterranean Drive in reference to a possible overdose. Upon arrival he found a 48 year old male slumped over on the couch, unconscious and barely breathing from a believed overdose of fentanyl. Luckily, just weeks ago, Officer Russell received training and began carrying Narcan® (naloxone) Nasal Spray, a potentially life saving medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Officer Russell administered the medication and the patient regained consciousness. The patient was treated by the Punta Gorda Fire Department and Charlotte County EMS before being transported to the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

“With the increase of dangerous opioids such as fentanyl coming into the country, every community needs to be prepared for an increase in overdose cases.”

Pam Davis, Chief of Police

While Punta Gorda has not seen the large number of overdose cases that are all too commonplace elsewhere in Florida and across the United States, it is certainly not immune from the effects of the opioid epidemic. This is why, earlier this year, Chief Davis made the decision to begin a Narcan® program.

PGPD Officer with Narcan® Nasal Spray
Officer holding Narcan® Nasal Spray

“With the increase of dangerous opioids such as fentanyl coming into the county, every community needs to be prepared for an increase in overdose cases,” said Chief Davis. The program, which has been implemented entirely through grant funding from the Florida Department of Health’s HEROS Grant, has allowed each patrol officer to carry Narcan® Nasal Spray on their utility belt so they will always be prepared when they encounter a potential overdose victim. Narcan® Nasal Spray is administered much like any other nasal spray so it can be administered by officers prior to the arrival of medical personnel.

Lieutenant Dylan Renz stated, “Our officers are often the first responders on scene and, in an overdose situation, every second counts. Being able to administer the medication right away may mean the difference between life and death.”

Overdose cases are also not limited to those using drugs recreationally. Patients who are prescribed opioid medications for legitimate health conditions, may inadvertently take an extra dose or may have an adverse reaction to a new medication or dosage.

The instance this weekend was the first time Punta Gorda Police Officers have administered Narcan® Nasal Spray since implementing the program last month. You can find more information on Narcan® Nasal Spray by visiting the manufacturer’s website at www.narcan.com.




Hurricane Dorian Update

Original Post: Friday, August 30, 2019
Latest Update: Saturday, August 31, 2019 @ 5:30 PM

5:00 PM Update from NWS (August 31, 2019)

August 31, 2019 @ 5:30 PM: The forecast for Hurricane Dorian continues to show the storm tracking to the east and well away from Southwest Florida. The Punta Gorda Police Department in continuing to prepare should we be called upon for assistance in any of the communities on the east coast that may be impacted by the storm.

11:00 AM Update from NWS (August 31, 2019)

August 31, 2019 @ 11:30 AM: This morning’s update brings more positive news for Florida. The current forecast shows Punta Gorda outside the five-day cone and the worst side of the storm missing Florida all together. While this means we can all breathe a little easier, it also shows how drastically forecasts can change. If you have not yet finished preparing or planning, we encourage you to continue to do so in case things change again. We are still not even midway through hurricane season, so even if we have little impact from Hurricane Dorian, you will be ready for the rest of the season.

August 30, 2019: Today the Punta Gorda City Council passed an Emergency Ordinance authorizing the City Manager to declare a “State of Local Emergency” for the City of Punta Gorda in preparation for possible impacts from Hurricane Dorian. City staff, along with police and fire department leadership, met this afternoon to review the current forecast and storm predictions and continue with preparations. They will meet again on Sunday afternoon to reevaluate conditions. Leadership of the police and fire departments also attended the emergency management meeting held at the Charlotte County Emergency Operations Center. Our residents can be assured that their public officials are doing everything possible to make sure that we are ready to serve our community and deal with any impact from this storm.

Important Information

  • Residents can receive the latest storm information from the City of Punta Gorda by visiting www.cityofpuntagordafl.com or through any City of Punta Gorda or Punta Gorda Police Department social media outlet including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and NextDoor.
  • Residents can register with the CodeRed emergency notifications system by clicking here.
  • For specific needs please dial 2-1-1 or 941-833-4000. In the event of an emergency dial 9-1-1.
  • Residents can follow Charlotte County Emergency Management to receive important emergency information by clicking here.
  • Local radio stations: WCCF AM 1580, WIKX FL 92.9, WENG AM 1530, WBCG FM 98.9, WCVU FM 104.9, WINK FM 96.9, and WCKT FM 100.9.
  • Local television stations: Weather-31, Wink-5, WBBH-2, WZVN-7, WXLT-10, WFTX-4, and SNN-6.
  • Local newspapers: Charlotte Sun, Herald Tribune.
  • Sand bags are being offered at the city-owned parcel on West Henry Street near the dog park. A limit of 10 bags per City of Punta Gorda resident are available to be self-filled.
  • More information available in the City of Punt Gorda Weekly Highlights Report (see below).

While the most recent reports may seem positive for our area, there is still a great deal of uncertainty and we encourage all of our residents to continue making final preparations and ensure that they have a plan in place should the storm impact our area or an evacuation becomes necessary. All Floridians know that when it comes to hurricanes, you plan for the worst and hope for the best.