During an off-duty security detail at the International Market World in Auburndale on Saturday, February 10, 2007, Polk County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Bellamy noticed a man driving a black Ford Crown Victoria with tinted windows, with a ball cap that said “Police” on it in the rear window, outfitted with mounted red and blue lights.
Suspicious that the man was not a law enforcement officer, Deputy Bellamy approached the driver and asked for identification. He obtained consent to search the vehicle from the man, later identified as Michael Lee Ware, DOB 2/28/71, of 2009 North Combee Road in Lakeland, and found that the lights were wired, mounted, and fully functioning, and that Ware also had in the car a laptop computer on a stand, similar to how Sheriff’s deputies have their laptop computers.
Further search of the vehicle produced a straw with a white powder in it which field-tested positive for methamphetamines. Further search of Ware’s identity revealed that he is on probation out of Volusia County for 2nd Degree Murder. Ware was placed under arrest without incident and booked into the Polk County Jail on no bond on charges of Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Unlawful Display of Blue Lights, and VOP.
Sheriff Grady Judd reminds citizens that, even though these lights are sold in retail stores, they are still against the law, according to Florida State Statute 843.081:
“It is unlawful for a person to use in or on any nongovernmentally owned vehicle or vessel any flashing or rotating blue light unless such person is a law enforcement officer employed by a federal, state, county, or city law enforcement agency or is a person appointed by the Governor pursuant to chapter 354”;
“For the purposes of this section, the term "flashing or rotating blue light" includes all forms of lights which display a blue light source or which were designed with the intent of displaying a blue light source whether or not such light is actually in use.”