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‘Very least we can do’: Fla. sheriff vows to return $2 million worth of pot to rightful owner

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A sheriff in Florida has taken to social media in an effort to “return” more than 700 pounds of marijuana worth millions to the owner.

The comic post on Facebook from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department says that the law enforcement agency is only attempting to “do the right thing.”

“Since at the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office we always strive to do the right thing, our Narcotics Agents are trying to identify the rightful owner of the approximately 770 lbs of marijuana that was seized from a mini-storage facility in Viera,” noted Sheriff Wayne Ivey. “I mean, trying to identify the rightful owner of the property is the very least we can do, especially since it has a street value of roughly two million dollars!!”

“Once we properly identify you as the rightful owner we will gladly return your property and also make sure that both you and your property are kept in a secure area so that no one can try to rip you off!!” Ivey noted further, going on to offer the owner(s) a “staycation” and for the person or persons to consider “exactly how much your lost property means to you.”

(Credit: Florida Today)

Ivey has become known locally and throughout the state for his clever, creative use of social media to stay connected to residents of his county, earning the moniker of “the most politically incorrect sheriff in the country” while using goofy, funny posts to engage the public.

He posts YouTube videos featuring several humorous initiatives that highlight certain cases and aspects of the job to include his “Wheel of Fugitives,” featuring several wanted subjects that he spins to find out who the “fugitive of the week” will be, Florida Today

“Debuting in Fall 2015, the roughly three-minute video ‘show’ has flashy graphics, a rock soundtrack and an image of a spinning roulette wheel festooned with mugshots of up to 10 fugitives,” the outlet reports. “Special episodes of women only fugitives, called ‘Wheel of Fugitive: Ladies Night,’ have fewer.”

In an informational video, Ivey said that the Wheel Of Fugitive program results in “about 88 percent of suspects you see on the wheel … during the shows either turn themselves in or are taken off the streets from citizens’ tips [and] hard work by our fugitives unit.”

He went on to say that when suspects do turn themselves in, they are placed on the department’s Facebook page and held up as having done the right thing. “They took the first step in finding closure in this part of their life and moving forward,” he said.

For those who don’t turn themselves in, Ivey said that within 15-20 minutes after posting each weekly spin citizens are calling his department with tips on suspects listed on the wheel.

“Some of them pan out, some of them don’t, but our fugitive unit’s gotten really accustomed to getting good information from our citizens,” he noted.

Florida Today noted further: “Ivey was among the first politicians and police to recognize that social media could be a powerful tool for law enforcement officials as they tried reach people with tips to avoid being victims of crime or needed help solving one.”

The outlet said by far, the Wheel of Fugitive has been a “runaway hit” having been featured in news stories and reports around the country since it debuted.

But, critics note that not all of those featured on the wheel are fugitives — Ivey runs that disclaimer at the bottom of the videos during each weekly episode, though legal experts say that “doesn’t give Ivey a pass to portray people as fugitives who aren’t,” Florida Today reported.

Jon Dougherty

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