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News and Investigations

News & Investigations

News Releases and Public Information

Welcome to the Polk County Sheriff's Office News Room, where the Public Information Officers (PIO's) post all of the information that they release to the news media. PIO's act as liaisons between news media organizations and the Sheriff's Office. The PIO's routinely release timely and accurate information and Crime Stoppers bulletins, and respond to routine and "breaking news" media inquiries. News releases and Crime Stoppers information can be found on this page.

PCSO's full-time Public Information Officers are Brian Bruchey, Carrie Horstman, and Alicia Manautou. The Public Information Officers can be reached by sending an e-mail collectively at

The recent news releases sent out by the PIOs can be found here, and archived releases (older than 2017) can be found here.

Feb 12, 2024

Winter Haven man arrested for DUI and other charges after abandoning an airboat in front of PCSO substation

Media Contact: Brian Bruchey, PIO

An airboat that fell off of a trailer being towed by a truck was abandoned in the roadway in front of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Southeast District and Polk County Fire Rescue Station #44 on Sunday, February 11, 2024. This led to criminal charges for a Winter Haven man.

A PCFR Captain notified dispatch at around 9:17pm Sunday about the boat blocking Thompson Nursery Road near Lake Wales, in front of the entrance to the Sheriff’s Office substation on Sgt. Mary Campbell Way. The Captain reported that the driver of a dark Ford F150 that had been hauling the boat appeared intoxicated before he drove away from the area.

43-year old Jonathan Whitesides, the owner of the boat, returned to the scene with another man to retrieve the vessel.

Mr. Whitesides began yelling at the other man, criticizing him about how he was attaching the boat to the trailer. A deputy sheriff on scene told Whitesides to calm down. At that time, Mr. Whitesides became irate with the deputy, took an aggressive stance towards him, charged in his direction, pushed his chest out at the deputy with his fist balled up, began yelling in the deputy’s face, and ignored the deputy’s commands.

Deputies noted that Mr. Whitesides’ eyes were bloodshot and watery, his speech was slurred, and he had balance issues.

Mr. Whitesides was arrested and taken to the Sheriff’s Processing Center and charged with DUI (M1), Assault on a LEO (M1), and Resisting without Violence (M1).

Two breath samples were obtained by Mr. Whitesides. The breath-alcohol content measured 0.334 G/210L and 0.307 G/210L (the legal threshold is 0.08 G/210L).

Whitesides is employed by the Polk County School Board as a mechanic.

“One of Mr. Whitesides breath samples showed him to be four-times the legal limit. I’m not sure how he was walking, let alone driving. He made some very poor decisions that night—he decided to drink and drive, and then he decided to become aggressive towards the deputy on the scene. Both those decisions earned him a trip to jail.”Grady Judd, Sheriff.