Volume 1 Number 13
March 29, 2004










Text-Only Version

 

 


Investigators with the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations study new trends in arson forensics.


Division of Insurance Fraud Captain Simon Blank (left) and Investigator Raimund Manzo demonstrate an arrest technique in a March training program.

 


LAW ENFORCEMENT DIVISIONS TRAIN TO HANDLE THE UNEXPECTED

I had the privilege last week of speaking to the Florida Highway Patrol’s 106th graduating class. For many visitors, these individuals often will be their first contact with Florida law enforcement. Ironically, many of the new troopers come from other states themselves and have committed to serve the citizens of Florida. 

Left to right: Chief Silvester Dawson, FHP Training Academy; David F. Westberry, Deputy Executive Director, DHSMV; Fred Dickinson,
 Executive Director, DHSMV; Tom Gallagher, Chief Financial Officer, State of Florida; Col. Christopher Knight, Director Florida Highway Patrol.

On average, Florida gets 800 new residents a day. This kind of
influx creates new challenges and new demands for all of us who serve the public.  And, for law enforcement, the events of September 11, 2001, added to what already was a heavy responsibility.

CFO Gallagher addresses the graduates in the 106th class.

Our department’s two certified law enforcement units know this well and are continuously training and preparing for their heightened responsibilities. 

The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is responsible for the investigation of arsons and arson-related offenses, which puts these investigators at the forefront of responding to and investigating explosions. Our cause-and-origin investigators, including six trained bomb technicians, are recognized as among the best in the nation. The bureau is trained in handling the aftermath of most explosive incidents and has trained more than 2,000 state and local agency and civilian personnel in explosive device recognition, bomb threats, physical security, and post-blast investigations. 

The State Fire Marshal’s Bureau of Forensic Fire and Explosives Analysis, one of only three in the nation, analyzes thousands of fire samples every year submitted by law enforcement agencies throughout the state. Together, the fire lab and bureau are responsible for investigating nearly 8,000 suspicious fires every year.

The Division of Insurance Fraud is responsible for investigating fraud in all lines of insurance.  Investigations frequently involve complex and organized crime schemes and require in-depth understanding of computer science, interstate law and criminal organizations. 

The department’s law enforcement divisions frequently work together on cases involving burning to defraud and work closely with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. For several years the division has led the nation’s insurance fraud bureaus in arrests and convictions and holds an anti-fraud conference every year that draws hundreds of investigators and prosecutors from around the country.

Both of these fully sworn divisions are required to maintain their training and be prepared to respond to any kind of criminal act that may be discovered during the course of carrying our their duties.  Required training includes defensive driving, firearms defense tactics, arrest techniques and other high-liability areas specific to law enforcement officers.  The department law enforcement divisions also participate in the state’s mutual aid agreement to respond to any natural or man-made disaster.

These men and women are on the front lines every day protecting Floridians’ lives and property.  On behalf of the people of Florida, I salute you and your families for accepting this call to serve.


 

                                        



CFO Tom Gallagher and Sen. Victor Crist discuss legislation at a press conference in the Capitol on March 24.

 

FLDFS CONSUMER SERVICE
1-800-342-2762

 

 

 

FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMISSION
OFFICE OF FINANCIAL SERVICES

GALLAGHER, LAWMAKERS ASK FOR GREATER AUTHORITY TO CURB ABUSIVE PRACTICES USED BY DEBT COLLECTORS

Harassing phone calls at all hours, abusive language and threats of incarceration and physical harm are the impetus for Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher joining state lawmakers, including Senate President Jim King, to promote legislation giving regulators the authority to stop such practices used increasingly by debt collection agencies.  Senator Victor Crist and Representative Gus Bilirakis are sponsoring the legislation (SB 2430/HB 1371).  HB 1371 was passed unanimously today by the House Subcommittee on Banking and Securities.

CFO Gallagher, Sen. Crist and Rep. Gus Bilirakis at the press conference.

“Under this new legislation, collection agencies using abusive tactics to collect consumer debt will no longer be tolerated,” said Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who serves as agency head for the Department of Financial Services (DFS).  “Consumers who contact the department for assistance should not be turned away because there is a lack of enforcement authority to protect them.” CONTINUED


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Consumer Advocate Elsie Crowell and CFO Tom Gallagher in 2002.

FLORIDA COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN CELEBRATES WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH

Members of the Florida Cabinet and Legislature joined the Florida Commission on the Status of Women to celebrate Women's History Month on Monday, March 22, 2004 in the Capitol Rotunda. The event commemorated the accomplishments of Florida's women and celebrated the many ways women strengthen and enrich Florida. The event included the reading and presentation of Governor Jeb Bush's proclamation recognizing March as Women's History Month and remarks from members of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women."

The Florida Commission on the Status of Women is proud to honor and celebrate the many achievements of Florida's women. Women mean so much to our state and our history," says Dr. Patricia Clements, Commission Chair.

The Florida Commission on the Status of Women is a nonpartisan board, statutorily created in 1991 consisting of 22 appointed members. The Commission, through coordinating, researching, communicating and encouraging legislation, is dedicated to empowering women from all walks of life in achieving their fullest potential, to eliminating barriers to that achievement, and to recognizing women's accomplishments. Additional information on the Commission is available from its web site at http://www.fcsw.net.

FOUNDING FCSW BOARD MEMBER ELSIE CROWELL RETIRES FROM THE STATE

Elsie Crowell, Insurance Consumer Advocate in the Department of Financial Services, is being honored this month upon her retirement from public service. Ms. Crowell was appointed by Treasurer Tom Gallagher to the Florida Commission on the Status of Women in 1991, and was elected Commission Chair in 1993, serving two consecutive terms as Chair and eight years on the Commission.

For the past 37 years, Elsie Crowell has been a devoted public servant to the citizens of Florida, Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University, Florida State University, the Departments of Health and Rehabilitative Services, Professional Regulation, Insurance, and Financial Services. CONTINUED


3 ARRESTED FOR $1.5 MILLION IN INSURANCE FRAUD

Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and Attorney General Charlie Crist announced today the arrests of three South Florida residents on charges that they defrauded Chubb Insurance Company with false claims netting more than $1.5 million.

"These greedy individuals deserve to be prosecuted," said Crist.  "We must ensure that Floridians won't have to foot the bill in the form of increased insurance premiums for this type of theft."

"It is estimated that insurance fraud costs the average Florida family as much as $1,400 a year in higher premiums and higher costs for goods and services," said Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Division of Insurance Fraud within the Department of Financial Services.  "This kind of cost can have a devastating effect on the economy, making it harder for families to make ends meet and harder for employers to maintain jobs and benefits." CONTINUED