Man arrested for arson following early morning fire on Lemon Avenue

SARASOTA, FL. – January 16, 2017   – 11:30 a.m.

Joe Thompson, 39, of Sarasota, has been arrested and charged with arson following a fire that occurred at approximately 1:30 a.m. in the 400 block of Lemon Avenue, Sarasota, today, Monday, January 16, 2018.

Officers were on patrol in the area of the 400 block of N. Lemon Avenue when they observed thick black smoke coming from the rear of 428 North Lemon Avenue.  When officers pulled into the parking lot, they observed large flames.

Once on scene, officers observed Thompson sitting in a chair facing the fire.  Sarasota County firefighters responded and put out the fire.  A perimeter was set up by law enforcement and the fire department for safety reasons.  The State Fire Marshal’s Office responded and determined the fire was started by a lighter and no suspected accelerant was used.  The fire damaged a phone injunction box and the wires connecting to it. 

Thompson was transported to the Sarasota County Jail.


Joe Thompson, 39

Joe Thompson, 39

Sarasota Police K9 Team Places First in K9 Competition

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SARASOTA, FL. – January 8, 2017   – 2:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Sarasota Police K9 Officer Jake Nelson and his K9 partner, Bronson, competed in the inaugural Gulf Coast K9 Competition at Sun Splash Family Waterpark in Cape Coral hosted by the Cape Coral Police Department.

Officer Nelson and K9 Bronson were one of 19 teams from throughout the state of Florida who competed in various competitions that displayed K9 handling skills including an Obstacle Course, Hardest Hitting Dog Competition and Fastest Dog Competition.  Other law enforcement agencies included the Cape Coral Police Department, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, North Port Police Department, Coral Gables Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol.

Officer Nelson and K9 Bronson won first place in the Obstacle Course section.  The course consisted of up and over maneuvers, jumping through tunnels, shooting simulations and taking on a balance beam, both Officer and K9.

“Officer Nelson and K9 Bronson are an excellent team.  They train hard and work diligently to catch criminals and keep the City of Sarasota safe,” said Sergeant Bruce King, supervisor of the Sarasota Police Department K9 Unit.  “It’s nice when others get to see their bond and discipline get put to a test like the competition in Cape Coral this weekend,” said Sergeant King.

All proceeds and donations from the Gulf Coast K9 Competition will benefit the Cape Coral Animal Shelter, Paw for Patriots Foundation and Holidays for Heroes Foundation.

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SRQ Cartel II Narcotics Dealer Arrested Sunday Night

SARASOTA, FL. – January 8, 2017   – 10:30 a.m.

In an attempt to combat multiple reports of open air narcotics transactions in the area of 23rd Street and Leon Avenue, Sarasota Police Patrol Officers formulated a plan to make contact with individuals who frequently loiter in the area.

On Sunday at approximately 11:15 p.m., Sarasota Police Officers made contact with Irvin Brown, 30, of Sarasota, at the corner of 23rd Street and Leon Avenue.  Officers attempted to place Brown into custody for violation of City Code 5-21, open container.

Brown began to resist Officers and was placed into custody.  In a search incident to arrest, Officers located 37 pieces of crack cocaine in Brown’s left pocket (photo attached).  Officers also observed the crack cocaine was so fresh it was still wet from the cooking process.  There is a community church and a community park both located within 1000 feet of where Brown was arrested.  The crack cocaine tested positive for the presence of cocaine and was placed into property.

Brown was arrested and charged with:

·         Cocaine possession with intent to sell 1000’ feet within a church (felony)

·         Resisting a Law Enforcement Officer without violence (misdemeanor)

·         Possession of drug paraphernalia (misdemeanor)

·         Open container (misdemeanor)

Brown was arrested during the SRQ Cartel II roundup in 2014.  He was released from prison in June 2017 for Trafficking in Cocaine 400g-150kg, Trafficking in Cocaine 28g-200g and Cocaine Sale. 


Two teenagers arrested in Sarasota after stealing vehicle in North Port

SARASOTA, FL. – January 4, 2018   – 8:30 a.m.

A 16-year-old male has been arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, fleeing to elude and stolen vehicle, all felony charges, after Sarasota Police Officers tried to stop the stolen vehicle he was driving at approximately 6:45 a.m. Wednesday near South Lido Beach.  The passenger, a 13-year-old female, was also arrested and charged with motor vehicle theft, a felony. 

Sarasota Police Officers were dispatched to the area of 12th Street and North Washington Boulevard (US 301), Sarasota, in reference to a stolen vehicle report from the North Port Police Department.  Officers from the North Port P.D. tracked the stolen vehicle to the area of South Lido Beach and requested assistance.

Sarasota Officers spotted the stolen vehicle in the 1500 block of Benjamin Franklin Drive, Sarasota.  Officers attempted to stop the vehicle with emergency lights activated but the vehicle fled.  The vehicle continued fleeing ending up in the northbound direction of the southbound lanes of South Boulevard of the Presidents.  Before Officers knew the vehicle was traveling in the wrong direction, they set up stop sticks in the northbound lanes at the intersection of Polk Drive and South Boulevard of the Presidents. 

As Officers were repositioning themselves, they observed the vehicle headlights heading towards them.  They were approximately 2-3 feet from the vehicle’s front bumper.  Officers threw the stop sticks at the vehicle engine hood area and leaned back against the rear driver side of their marked patrol vehicle to avoid being struck.  The vehicle was stopped sticked at the intersection of North Washington Drive and John Ringling Boulevard. 

The female was arrested on scene.  The male was arrested as his home Wednesday afternoon.  The two are facing additional charges from the North Port Police Department.


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New Year’s Eve Celebration Safety Reminders & Road Closures

SARASOTA, Fla. -- December 22, 2017 -- 2 p.m.

The men and women of the Sarasota Police Department are working to make sure our community can enjoy a safe start to the New Year.  To make sure our community stays safe, Officers are encouraging people to avoid driving while intoxicated and refrain from discharging weapons in the air as a way of celebrating the arrival of 2018.  The annual Pineapple Drop will be held in downtown Sarasota at Lemon Avenue and Main Street.  The Sarasota Police Department is asking those planning to celebrate to please leave backpacks, coolers and alcohol at home.

Some individuals celebrate the arrival of the New Year by firing a weapon into the air.  This is known as celebratory gunfire and is dangerous and illegal.  “What goes up, must come down.”  A bullet fired into the air will come down and the unintended consequences can be tragic.  It is against the law to fire a weapon in the City of Sarasota; Violators can expect to be arrested. 

If part of your holiday celebrations include consuming alcoholic beverages, plan ahead by not driving while impaired.  There are safer and less expensive ways of travel:  Use a designated driver, take a taxi or take advantage of the free ‘Tow to Go’ service offered through AAA.  Tow to Go will be offered  now until 6 a.m. on January 2, 2018.  For Tow to Go in Sarasota, you can call 1-855-2-TOW-2-GO (1-855-286-9246) The Sarasota Police Department will be out in full force and there will be no tolerance for the dangerous act of drinking and driving.

Several roads will be closed for the annual Pineapple Drop on December 31, 2017.  Vehicles not removed by the posted time will be towed at the owner’s expense.  For information on towed vehicles, please call Upman’s Towing at 941-365-6823.  A map is attached.

·         6 a.m., Saturday December 30, 2017 – January 1, 2018 at 9 a.m.: 

o   Central Avenue closed from First Street to Main Street.

o   Pineapple Avenue closed from First Street to Main Street.

o   First Street closed from Central Avenue to Pineapple Avenue.

o   Lemon Avenue closed from Main Street to State Street.

o   Orange Avenue closed from Main Street to Central Avenue.

o   Lemon Avenue closed from Main Street to First Street.


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Reward increased to $50,000 for information about Jabez Spann

SARASOTA, Fla. -- December 21, 2017 -- 1:30 p.m.

The Sarasota Police Department, FBI Tampa Division and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is now offering a $50,000 reward for information about the disappearance of Jabez Spann, 14.  This is an increase from the reward issued on October 10, 2017.  Anyone with information is asked to call Sarasota Crime Stoppers at 941-361-TIPS (8477) or 911.  An updated reward poster is attached.

Jabez Spann has been missing since September 4, 2017.  He was last seen in the area of 22nd Street in Sarasota wearing a turquoise shirt.  Jabez is a black male, 5’09” and 120 pounds.  This investigation remains active and ongoing.  Sarasota Police Detectives have received numerous tips and Detectives remain in daily contact with Jabez’s family.  Unfortunately there is no new information in this case at this time.

The FBI is contributing $44,000, FDLE is contributing $5,000 and the Sarasota Police Department is contributing $1,000 for a total of $50,000 in reward money.  Anyone with information on this case is asked to call Sarasota Crime Stoppers at 941-366-TIPS or online at