74ºF

Brevard detectives to monitor social media for drugs, violence

175 attend 2-hour meeting at Satellite High School

photo
(Florida Today)

SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. – Odd items discovered hidden in a child's bedroom, like disassembled lithium batteries. Peculiar text messages referring to somebody or something named "molly." A Facebook photo of a classmate holding what looks like a bag of weed.

Monitoring kids today isn't easy. That's why when parents stumble upon such clues of possible drug use -- particularly on social media platforms, which confuse many adults -- they should report the information to law enforcement, Satellite Beach Police Chief Jeff Pearson said.

In that vein, a Satellite Beach detective and a detective in neighboring Indian Harbour Beach have teamed up to monitor social media for criminal behavior, Pearson said.

And when these detectives see suspicious posts, Pearson vowed, "We're going to go knock on people's door."

"Just knock on the door and say, 'Look, I just want you to see what your kid posted on social media. It's not going to mean I'm going to arrest someone right now. I'm just telling you, though: These are the kinds of things that are going to be put on our radar,' " Pearson said Tuesday night during a crime-trend town hall.

Local 6 News partner Florida Today reported that about 175 people attended the two-hour meeting at the Satellite High Auditorium. Pearson and other Space Coast law enforcement officials briefed parents on popular illegal drugs -- K2, molly, heroin and the like -- and asked for clues to crack down on crime.

Tuesday's town hall stemmed from, but did not directly address, a pair of violent crimes that rattled many in typically sleepy Satellite Beach.

On Feb. 19, three teens savagely attacked a 17-year-old Satellite Beach teen with a crowbar. Detectives said the attack was based on revenge for marijuana theft. The next day, in an unrelated case, the body of a 32-year-old woman was found at a Shell Street construction site. Her death remains unsolved.

State Attorney Phil Archer serves on the Central Florida Crimeline board of directors. During the past 365 days, he said the anonymous tipline organization received zero calls reporting drugs in Satellite Beach -- a statistic he labeled "amazing."

However, Satellite High freshman Pearl Suarez countered that she had never heard of Crimeline. She said some students get high in the bathrooms, then return to class -- and she asked why Tuesday's evening town hall was geared for parents, rather than the student body.

Archer said he will arrange to distribute Crimeline information at the school.

One attendee said her child believes 80 percent of Satellite High students are doing drugs. Senior Max Hoffman said he is annoyed by the community perception that his school is "full of potheads," and he said parents need to separate perceptions and rumors from the truth.

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey asked how many parents in the audience knew their kids' Facebook passwords. He also asked how many parents were Facebook friends with their kids.

"Quite frankly, you are the chief law enforcement officer in your child's life," Ivey said.

He also encouraged attendees to go home and search their kids' rooms.

Indian Harbour Beach Police Chief David Butler announced that his department will post a drop-off box for prescription drugs within 30 days. Residents will be able to deposit drugs around the clock to be destroyed.