TIME Florida

Families of Missing Florida Teens Plead for Help

Perry Cohen (L) and Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old.
U.S. Coast Guard—AP Perry Cohen (L) and Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old.

Overturned boat was found Sunday, two days after 14-year-olds took it out

The families of two teenage boys who went missing while fishing off the coast of Florida pleaded for help Monday, asking people to scour the shores for debris or any clues that might lead to their sons.

The 19-foot white single-engine boat that Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, took out off the coast of Jupiter late last week was found Sunday, roughly 67 miles off the shore of Daytona Beach. There was no sign of the teens in the boat, according to the Coast Guard.

“We want everybody, once again, from Palm Beach all the way up the coast of…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Florida

NFL Great Joe Namath Joining Search For 2 Missing Florida Teens

Missing Teen Fishermen
AP This combination made from photos provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows Perry Cohen, left, and Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old.

The boys headed off for a fishing trip on Friday. They have not been heard from since

Former NFL great Joe Namath is appealing to the public for help in finding two 14-year-old boys, who have been missing at sea since Friday.

“We’re all praying,” Namath, flanked by the boys’ families, said at a press conference on Sunday in Tequesta, Fla., according to Fox News. “We got a lot of people out on the water and in the air looking for them. We’ll stay out there until we find them.”

The boys, Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, embarked on a fishing trip in a 19-foot boat in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday. They were last seen buying fuel on Friday afternoon near Jupiter, Fla.

Perry is the son of Namath’s neighbor.

The boys’ families are offering a $100,000 reward for their safe return.

 

TIME Florida

Woman’s Body Found in Pond 25 Years After She Disappeared

"It's good for us to be able to provide that type of closure for them. It's been a long time coming"

A vehicle pulled from a pond near North Fort Myers, Fla. solved a 25-year-old mystery, according to a local NBC affiliate.

Officials in Florida identified the body of Rita Sue Zul after pulling a barely recognizable red Datsun from the pond on Monday. Zul had reportedly gone missing on Jan. 15, 1990 after failing to return home from the restaurant where she worked.

A man looking for metal objects using a fishing pole with a magnet attached to the end found the car. When a tow truck pulled it to the surface, human remains were found inside. The medical examiner’s office identified the body using dental records.

“It’s good for us to be able to provide that type of closure for them. It’s been a long time coming,”Sergeant John Desrosier of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office told the NBC affiliate.

 

 

TIME Florida

Black Bear Eats 20 lbs of Dog Food and Falls Asleep in Woman’s Yard

The bear rolled over several times during its nap

A Florida homeowner peered out her window this past weekend and saw her backyard—complete with a snoozing black bear.

Bob Cross, of Lake Mary in Seminole County, was called to the scene on Saturday for his expertise in dealing with “nuisance critters,” but even he was stumped as to what to do.

“That’s a big bear. That’s a huge bear,” Cross recalled thinking, according to WFTV.

The bear had apparently dragged a 20-pound bag of dog food from a garage to a tree, which doubled as the location of his catnap after he ate the food.

“(It) repositioned three or four times and stretched out,” Cross laughed. “It just laid there.”

In the end, Cross let the animal go on his merry way. Neighbor Art Fischer hoped no one would shoot the sleepy bear.

“They were here before we were,” he said.

TIME 2016 Campaign

Jeb Calls For ‘Disrupting’ Government

Jeb Bush
John Locher—AP Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the Maverick PAC conference in Las Vegas on July 17, 2015.

His ideas: veto spending bills, cut government workers, restrict lobbying

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush pledged to challenge the ways of “Mount Washington” Monday, highlighting his record in Tallahassee and how he hopes to “disrupt” the federal government by challenging a “culture of spending.”

“The overspending, the overreaching, the arrogance, and the sheer incompetence in that city – these problems have been with us so long that they are sometimes accepted as facts of life,” Bush said of Washington, D.C. “But a president should never accept them, and I will not. We need a president willing to challenge the whole culture in our nation’s capital – and I mean to do it.”

In remarks outlining a portion of his domestic policy agenda, Bush reiterated his call for sustained 4 percent annual economic growth and hinted at forthcoming tax policy and entitlement reform proposals.

“The ultimate disruption of Washington is to reject, as I do, the whole idea of a government forever growing more, borrowing more, and spending more – beyond anyone’s ability to control or even comprehend,’ he said.

Bush embraced a federal Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution to limit government spending, and said he supported efforts by House Ways and Means Committee Paul Ryan to give presidents a line-item veto over expenditures. “It’s time to revive Veto Corleone,” referencing the nickname he earned in Florida for cutting down spending bills.

Bush suggested a “three out, one in” rule for federal workers in a bid to cut government payrolls, with exceptions for national security jobs. “This policy can, on its own, reduce the size of the federal bureaucracy by 10 percent within 5 years,” he stated.

Calling for broad reforms to civil service laws, Bush said he wants to bring federal pay in line with private sector pay, eliminate across-the-board raises for workers, while making it easier to fire under-performers.

Highlighting lobbying reforms he signed in Florida, Bush said he hoped to sign similar legislation in Washington, saying the definition of “lobbyist” should be expanded to those who work as ‘government relations’ and ‘government affairs’ specialists, and that their meetings with lawmakers should be publicly disclosed online.

Bush also endorsed an extension of a ban on lobbying by former members of the House and Senate to six years, while saying he would support legislation tying lawmaker pay to their voting attendance — a veiled swipe at the Senators running for the White House who have missed votes on the campaign trail.

“A bill to dock the pay of absentee members might not pass the House or Senate,” Bush said, “but at least it would get them all there for a vote.”

Bush has long had government largess in his sights. In his second inaugural address in 2003, he rhapsodized about his dream of gutting government. “There would be no greater tribute to our maturity as a society,” he declared on the steps of the state capitol, “than if we can make these buildings around us empty of workers–silent monuments to the time when government played a larger role than it deserved or could adequately fill.”

TIME Florida

Baby Dies After Being Left in Hot Car in Florida

The family forgot the child in the car for about an hour

A baby died Wednesday night after being left in a hot car while the rest of the family unloaded groceries.

According to CBS, the 11-month-old’s parents and four siblings were taking groceries out of their SUV in Florida and forgot to get the baby out of the car. They realized their mistake about an hour later, but the infant was already unresponsive. The child was pronounced dead Wednesday evening at the hospital.

“The family is very, very upset. The entire family. The children, the parents. But they are cooperating with us and at this point it looks like it’s going to be a very, very tragic accident,” Lauderhill police spokesman Gregory Solowsky told CBS Miami.

[CBS]

TIME Disney

Here’s Why Disney Is Removing This Statue From a Theme Park

Cosby has been accused of sexual assault

Disney is removing a statue of Bill Cosby from a theme park in Florida after the Associated Press forced the release of a 2005 testimony from the embattled comedian in which he admits to obtaining a drug to give to women with the intent of having sex with them.

The bronze statue has been on display in Disney’s Academy of Televisions Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza in its Hollywood Studio theme park in Florida. On Tuesday night Disney said it planned to remove the statue after the park closes.

Dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual assault in recent months. In the past year, an online petition was started to remove Cosby’s bust from the theme park, garnering nearly 300 signatures.

“In light of recent circumstances it is prudent that the bust of actor Bill Cosby be removed from Disney’s Florida theme park,” the Change.org petition reads. “The Disney name is synonymous with family-friendly entertainment and with Mr. Cosby in the media daily facing accusations of sexual assault with the number of victims ever-climbing, it is inappropriate for Disney Parks to have a replica of Mr. Cosby’s likeness on display.”

The 77-year-old comedian and actor has seen his shows and live appearances on networks — and services such as Netflix — postponed or canceled due to the allegations.

Bill Cosby bust
Tony Winton—APA bust of actor and comedian Bill Cosby at Hollywood Studios theme park in Orlando, Fla.

TIME Crime

Sheriffs Are Lonely Holdouts as Police Body Cameras Grow in Use

Deputies-Body Cameras
Nick Ut—AP A body camera is displayed at a news conference at the Sheriff's Headquarters in the Monterey Park section of Los Angeles on Sept. 22, 2014.

Some cite costs, others question their effectiveness

In Illinois, only four of the state’s 102 sheriffs have adopted body cameras. In Florida, just two of its 66 sheriffs have implemented them. And in other states across the country, many other sheriffs are hesitating before outfitting their officers with a technology that other departments and police chiefs are widely embracing.

As law enforcement agencies increasingly purchase body cameras as a way to build trust with the citizens they police—and provide transparency following several recent high-profile police-related deaths—sheriffs are emerging as one of the lone hold-outs. More than 7,000 of the 18,000 police departments around the U.S., which includes sheriffs’ departments, have adopted cameras, but only a fraction of the 3,000 sheriffs agencies have done so.

Vievu, a body camera manufacturer that counts more than 4,000 police agencies as clients, says only 100 of its customers are sheriffs, while TASER International, which includes 3,000 police department clients, says only about 360 are sheriffs. Cost is the main issue for many, especially for those who maintain a small force with a handful of officers. In states where public records are easily obtained, privacy issues are a concern. Some are waiting for their legislatures to decide on statewide body cam policies, while others have simply come out wholly opposed to their effectiveness.

Sheriffs generally serve a broader constituency than police chiefs, and often reside over rural areas that don’t have the same demographics or internal patterns of racial segregation as the big metropolitan areas that have tended to adopt cameras in lock-step. And because they’re directly elected, sheriffs don’t have to answer to a mayor or city council members, who may be feeling political pressure from the community to adopt cameras.

“They’re far more difficult to influence, far less pressured because they can always make an appeal directly to the public, whereas a police chief can’t do that,” says Dennis Kearney, a John Jay School of Criminal Justice professor. “They can resist better than a police chief can, and they’re going to feel probably a good deal more support and less criticism from the populations they serve because they’re elected.”

Sheriff Ricky Adam of Hancock County, Miss., says the costs associated with the cameras and the storage required to keep hours of video data are too much for his department, which includes just 50 deputies.

“We haven’t been able to buy a new patrol car going on four years,” Adam says. “I don’t know how I possibly have the money to spend on cameras.”

Many Illinois sheriffs are waiting to see whether Gov. Bruce Rauner will sign legislation to clarify the state’s dual-party law, which requires two-party consent for any recording. Greg Sullivan, executive director of the Illinois Sheriffs Association, says his organization has been working with lawmakers to determine when a suspect can be recorded, whether it can be done without verbal consent, and whether the cameras can be turned on and off while officers are on patrol.

Similarly, sheriffs in Florida have had to grapple with the state’s public records laws, often considered the most transparent in the country. In May, the governor signed into law a measure that would exempt body camera footage from public records requests involving recordings inside someone’s home, in a hospital or at the location of a medical emergency.

A number of sheriffs have simply decided the cameras aren’t necessary. Late last year, Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner in South Carolina wrote a public letter saying video would catch “good people on their worst days” and invade their privacy. It would also “unnecessarily expose investigative crime scene techniques,” he said, while citizens would be more reluctant to speak with deputies about problems if they’re on camera.

“Our sheriffs are very independent thinkers,” says John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs Association. “They don’t have to answer to any one individual.”

While TASER’s Smith says only a small part of their business is from sheriffs, he’s seen a recent uptick in interest thanks to what he believes is heightened focus on body cams and public pressure. And Thompson says a number of sheriffs he’s talked to are interested in adopting them, but many are waiting for more data to show their effectiveness.

“The majority who I’ve spoken to, they say it’s a good idea and they’re going to look into it,” Thompson says. “But we can’t get into this knee-jerk reaction that everybody has to have them. Not one shoe fits all.”

TIME NFL

The Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul Injured His Hand in a July 4 Fireworks Accident

NFL: Green Bay Packers at New York Giants
Reuters/USA Today Sports—Brad Penner New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul runs back an interception against the Green Bay Packers for a touchdown during the fourth quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium on November 17, 2013.

The injury will likely not prove "career threatening" however

Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end for the New York Giants, reportedly injured his hand while lighting fireworks at his Florida home on the night of July 4.

The NFL confirmed the incident on Sunday evening, noting that it could “potentially impact Pierre-Paul’s future with the Giants,” but Dan Graziano and Adam Schefter at ESPN later tweeted that his injuries — burns on his palm and three fingers, and possible nerve damage — likely will not prove “career threatening” and that the “prognosis is not terrible.”

On Sunday afternoon, as reports of the accident began making the rounds, Deadspin posted a string of tweets from Pierre-Paul’s neighbors documenting a “whole Uhaul van of fireworks” parked outside of his house. Pierre-Paul himself had posted a video to Instagram of himself and his infant son near to what appears to be the van.

Pierre-Paul, who turned 26 earlier this year, has played for the Giants since 2010, when he joined the team as the fifteenth overall pick in the NFL draft. His “prodigal talent,” as ESPN described it in 2009, when he was at the University of South Florida, has been an asset to the Giants’ defensive line, in spite of the team’s shaky record overall in the past few years.

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