Some local media outlets are questioning whether the Collier County Sheriff’s Office is sharing information about suspicious encounters between children and strangers too quickly.
The inquiries came after an investigation determined that an Aug. 24 encounter between an adult motorist and a boy on 44th Terrace Southwest in Golden Gate was a misunderstanding. The encounter took place around 8:30 a.m. as the 10-year-old boy was riding his bike to Golden Terrace Elementary School. The man stopped his car beside the boy and spoke to him in both English and Creole. The boy believed the man was trying to lure him into the car and reported the incident to the school staff.
CCSO issued a press release and a composite sketch of the adult in question at 3:45 p.m. the same day. The release asked that anyone with information contact the Collier County Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers of Southwest Florida if they had information.
A witness to the encounter came forward after seeing the press release and composite and told detectives that the driver was actually asking the boy where the school drop-off was located. The press release and composite were instrumental in determining that the driver did not have criminal intent when he spoke to the boy.
CCSO will continue to investigate all suspicious encounters and partner with the community as appropriate to determine whether there was criminal intent, Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said Tuesday. The community also expects and deserves transparency from law enforcement, he added.
“We are the safest metropolitan county in the state, and that doesn’t happen by accident,” Sheriff Rambosk said. “Our partnerships with businesses, organizations and the individual members of our community are a key part of our success.”
Sheriff Rambosk said he has no greater priority than the safety of the community’s young people.
“We will never jeopardize the safety of our children or anyone else,” he said.