M.C.S.O. - Tips for Visitors
Law Enforcement in the Keys
If you are visiting the Florida Keys, or are planning to visit, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office would like to welcome you to our beautiful island chain. Our agency is the primary law enforcement presence in the Keys, and we're here to protect both the residents of the county, and visitors as well.
Along with the Sheriff's Office, there are other law enforcement groups who operate in the Florida Keys. The Florida Highway Patrol is the agency primarily responsible for accidents which occur in the county. The Department of Environmental Protection patrols our waters, and takes care of boating accidents, and other incidents on the water. They also take care of law enforcement in our many beautiful state parks.
The city of Key West and the city of Key Colony Beach are the only municipalities with their own police forces. The Key West Police Department enforces state law and city ordinances within the confines of the southernmost city, and the Key Colony Beach Police Department handles incidents occurring in that city, which is located at the north end of Marathon.
The City of Marathon and the Village of Islamorada both contract with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office to provide police services for their respective residents.
Crime in the Florida Keys
We are lucky here in Monroe County because the incidence of violent crime is low, and crime overall in the county is not a major problem. A large number of the crimes which do occur here are tourist related, however. Unfortunately, any major tourist destination also attracts people who prey on tourists.
Most tourist related crime is easily preventable. Here are a few safety tips to keep yourself and your family from becoming crime victims:
- When you leave your car for any reason, lock it and place your valuables in the trunk where they can not be easily seen.
- If you are staying in a hotel or motel, lock your doors even when you are in the room. It tempting to leave the balcony doors open at night to enjoy the tropical breeze, but doing so is an invitation to burglars. Lock your valuables in the hotel safe when you leave the building.
- If you go out at night, stay in lighted, populated areas. Although we have very few areas which are considered to be dangerous after dark, it is best to take these precautions just in case.
- If you are shopping for souvenirs, don't flash large amounts of cash and keep a firm grip on your wallet or purse. Again, robberies are not common, you can never be too careful no matter where in the world you go.
Driving in Monroe County
If you are planning to drive to the Keys, you will be traveling on highway U.S. One, or as it is referred to here, the Overseas Highway. It is the main highway into and out of the Keys, and traverses the length of the island chain. It is a gorgeous drive, but be careful to pay attention to the road while you are enjoying the scenery.
Highway U.S. One is primarily a two lane highway, so give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going. The speed limit is mostly 50 miles per hour, but slows to 35-45 at the approach to the many small communities along the way. Take your time and pay attention to the speed limit signs to avoid getting an expensive speeding ticket.
You can monitor traffic conditions as you travel by visiting to active calls page on this web site on your mobile device or by downloading our app, the links for which are located at the bottom of this page.
You will be crossing many bridges as you travel. If you choose to stop at one of those bridges, or anywhere along the road to see the sights, remember to make sure you lock your car doors and secure your valuables in the trunk, even if you are only getting our for a short time. Many Keys vacations have been ruined by criminals lurking near bridges just waiting for an unsuspecting sightseer to walk away from an unlocked car.
If your car breaks down, pull off to the side of the road and put your hood up to signal that you are having trouble. If you have a cellular phone, call the Sheriff's Office or the Florida Highway Patrol for help.
On Big Pine Key, which is located in the lower Florida Keys at mile marker 32, drivers should keep a sharp eye out for Key Deer, the small deer species found only in the Florida Keys. Deer frequently graze beside the highway, and have been known to dart out into traffic. Many deer are killed every year by motorists who are traveling too fast to avoid them. The speed limit on Big Pine Key is 45 miles per hour during the day, and 35 miles per hour after the sun sets.