January, 2021 | Issue 1
ANIMAL RESCUE OWNER ARRESTED ON 25 COUNTS OF ANIMAL CRUELTY
On January 13, 2021, CCSO officials arrested animal rescue owner, Robert Allan Schweickert Jr., on 25 counts of cruelty to animals with additional charges pending.
Schweickert, who owned and also operated Out of the Box Animal Rescue located in Floral City, FL, failed to correct prior citations issued by officials.
After inspecting the facility, officials found animals in kennels far below the county mandated 80 sg. ft. as well as animals in tarp wrapped kennels with rotting, urine-soaked floorboards.
Due to deplorable conditions throughout the rescue, a total of 43 dogs, 3 hens, and 1 pig were removed and transported to the Citrus County Animal Shelter.
CCSO EMPLOYEES OF THE MONTH
WEST SIDE PATROL
Stephen Quinn
COMMUNICATIONS
Brian Ledford

EAST SIDE PATROL
Sgt. Laura Anstead &
Tommy McGill
January Traffic Initiative
Throughout the month of January, members of the CCSO Motor Unit have been cracking down on distracted driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety, distracted driving caused nearly 3,000 traffic fatalities in 2018.

CCSO deputies will continue working to reduce distracted driving on our roadways to help make Citrus County the safest community in Florida!
Community Outreach
Recently, the Citrus County Sheriff's Office partnered with Crime Stoppers of Citrus County to place warning signs at donation drop off points of several non-profit stores across the county.

These signs warn any potential thieves that theft from the donation area is a FELONY, no matter the value of the item, per Florida State Statute 810.02(4).

CCSO wants to thank our partners at Crime Stoppers for working alongside our deputies to assist these organizations that work diligently to give back to our community!
ARTICLE OF THE MONTH: LEADERSHIP
FROM SHERIFF MIKE PRENDERGAST
2020 was certainly one of the most memorable years of them all, and not for good reasons. Some of the most shattering events took place during 2020, from the devastating Australia and California bushfires to the emergence of the deadly coronavirus. But one thing still remains for certain from the passing of this catastrophic year – our office is steadfastly committed to the safety of our residents and visitors right here in Citrus County; no matter the hurdles along the way. While to some, those hurdles may be too much to bear, but to the many great leaders here at CCSO who took an oath to protect and serve, there is nothing we cannot handle.

If you recall, in November’s letter to the editor I spoke about how today's law enforcement professionals must wear a multitude of "hats." I mentioned how these “hats” are truly the variety of roles our deputies must fulfill to safeguard our county and that statement still holds true today. I also highlighted the ever-evolving needs of our citizens regarding mental health issues and how at the end of last year CCSO created a Community Impacts Section to address this specific need. While this may seem like an easy solution to help address an existing issue, there were numerous components to consider prior to executing this strategy. This is where the great leadership of our CCSO professionals assist. The resilient leaders that make up CCSO, from upper administration, to sworn and support staff alike, work endlessly to maintain a strong foundation to keep our operations moving forward.

Moving forward starts with one of the most important attributes of leadership, the ability to listen. More so, the leaders here at CCSO not only listen to citizens about issues plaguing our community, but act quickly to resolve them. When I first took office, there were so many sound-offs and complaints regarding traffic. Rightfully so, as traffic-related issues and accidents were on a steady rise, with no achievable solution in sight – or so some thought. After reviewing the primary cause of such issues, my team leaders and I went to work creating an effective campaign with a zero-tolerance policy for aggressive and distracted driving - #JustDriveCitrus.

By the end of 2019, our office decreased the number of traffic fatalities by nearly half, 40.54%. We didn’t stop there, we continued to listen. As we heard, drugs were another huge concern for the majority of citizens. Through the same determination, Operation Coin Toss was established and successfully resulted in 147 total arrests carrying 307 felony and 105 misdemeanor charges this past year. 

Your Sheriff’s Office has accomplished many more of these successes in its endeavor to make Citrus County the safest community in Florida. And guess what, we don’t plan on slowing down this year. Serving into 2021, I, along with the great leaders and dedicated professionals of CCSO will remain unwaveringly committed to delivering excellence in public service to our citizens. In today’s world of public transparency, multifaceted community needs, and the other myriad of challenges that seem to present themselves, we will continue to strive for positive change for a better Citrus. Our best approach for this positive change starts with the full cooperation and support of you, our community members. I look forward to continuing to serve as your Sheriff this New Year. 
WE ARE HIRING!
The Citrus County Sheriff's Office is looking for a few good men and women to join our team of Communications Officers in the 9-1-1 dispatch center. Communications Officers start at $15.23 an hour and receive incredible benefits including PAID TRAINING! No experience needed, experienced supervisors train all new Communications Officers. Those interested in the position can check out the application here! You can also contact our Recruitment Deputy, Jason Boyer, at (352) 341-7452.
Looking for a career centered around helping the vulnerable members of our community? If so, the CCSO Victim's Resource Advocate position is just right for you! Duties include: Assisting those who have been victims of crimes by providing short-term crisis counseling, recommending community resources, attending court hearings and interviews with law enforcement. Check out the application here, or contact our Recruitment Deputy, Jason Boyer, at (352) 341-7452.