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Trooper of the Month
January 2006

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Trooper Pope
Trooper Edward Pope
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Congratulations to Trooper Edward Pope for being selected as the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper of the Month for January 2006, for his relentless investigative efforts in recovering a stolen vehicle and equipment from a suspect who also committed insurance fraud and for responding to a BOLO, arresting another suspect for felony possession of marijuana.

On Tuesday, January 17, 2006, Trooper Pope was operating stationary radar on Midway Boulevard in Charlotte County when a citizen informed him that there was a stolen black pickup truck with an Ohio license plate parked on the shoulder of Eagle Street in Port Charlotte. Trooper Pope located the suspect vehicle, and conducted a check on the tag and VIN. The vehicle had been stolen out of Fairfield County, Ohio.

Trooper Pope made contact with an individual at the residence where the stolen vehicle was parked. The individual stated that the driver of the pickup, Melvin Blackburn, was not at home. The individual gave Trooper Pope Permission to check the sheds in the backyard to ensure that the driver was not on the premises. In one of the sheds, Trooper Pope located a large quantity of generators and power tools. When a serial number check on the generators was conducted, one of the generators came back stolen.

During follow-up interviews with witnesses, Trooper Pope learned that Mr. Blackburn had allegedly stolen a trailer from a Home Depot in Ohio, and was using it in his business here in Florida. On January 21, 2006, a witness led Trooper Pope to the trailer at one of Mr. Blackburn’s job sites. The witness stated that a majority of the tools inside the trailer were also stolen. The VIN had been removed from the exterior of the trailer. No hidden VIN was obtained from the trailer. Trooper Pope obtained and executed a search warrant for the trailer.

During the investigation Trooper Pope stayed in contact with the investigators in Ohio. They confirmed they had open investigations regarding stolen tools and a trailer from a Home Depot in Ohio. Trooper Pope forwarded the photographs and information on the tools to the investigators and continued to work in conjunction with the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office on this case.

While conducting interviews with witnesses, Trooper Pope also learned that Mr. Blackburn and the previous owner of the Ford pickup are friends. The witnesses stated that Mr. Blackburn had bragged about being paid two thousand dollars to steal the Ford pickup because the owner could not afford the payments anymore. The authorities in Ohio are now pursuing Insurance Fraud on Mr. Blackburn and the owner of the Ford pickup thanks to Trooper Pope’s investigative work.

In a separate incident, which occurred on Saturday, January 21, 2006, Trooper Pope received a BOLO for a black BMW traveling from Tampa to Charlotte County via I-75. This vehicle was alleged to be carrying a large quantity of cocaine. The BOLO supplied a name of a white male that was supposed to be traveling in the BMW. Trooper Pope ran the subject’s name using D.A.V.I.D. and obtained an address in Charlotte County.

Trooper Pope traveled to the address to investigate the BOLO. Upon his arrival, he observed the black BMW in the driveway. Deputies from the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office were at the address investigating a burglary at the residence. Trooper Pope informed the deputies of the BOLO and the possibility that the BMW had a large amount of cocaine in it. The Sheriff’s Office had their K-9 unit respond to attempt a track on the burglary suspect. While on the premises, the K-9 alerted to the BMW. The owner of the BMW would not give Trooper Pope consent to search the vehicle, so Trooper Pope obtained and executed a search warrant for the vehicle. While conducting the vehicle search, Trooper Pope located approximately half a pound of marijuana. He arrested the owner of the vehicle for felony possession of marijuana and seized the vehicle.

Trooper Pope is to be commended for his hard work, relentless efforts, and investigative skills during these two incidents.

Trooper Pope acted in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol, and is hereby commended for his actions. Again, congratulations on being selected as Trooper of the Month for January 2006!

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