MIAMI — When a Florida toddler went missing from a foster home for four months only to be found severely neglected in Wisconsin two years ago, it re-exposed a problem: the state didn’t keep good track of the children in its care.
So the state Department of Children and Families hired six regional coordinators and a director, spending about $1 million, to better track the children.
Two years later, improvement is being seen — the percentage of missing children has dropped by about a third. Of the 19,710 children in foster care in July, 308 or about 1.5 percent, were missing. That’s a record low and down from the 2.3 percent who were missing two years ago.
Protesters peaceful at new abortion clinic
NAPLES — More than 60 abortion opponents stood peacefully outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic that began offering abortions for the first time Monday.
Abortions have not been available for 13 years in Collier County, a conservative stronghold on Florida’s southwest Gulf Coast. The last private doctor who performed abortions stopped in 1996 when opponents of the procedure demonstrated outside of his practice and home.
“It became clear that no private provider was going to provide services in the county,” said Char Wendel, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Collier County. “We wanted to provide the full range of reproductive and sexual health care services.”
The clinic, which has provided reproductive health services in Collier since 1975, will perform abortions one day a week. Monday’s schedule for abortions was full, she said, “reflecting the need in the community.”
Protesters — many from nearby Ave Maria University, a new and conservative Catholic school — arrived at 7 a.m. Others arrived later, carrying signs that said “God Loves Your Baby,” and “We Can Help!”
Ex-officer pleads not guilty in Tampa officer slaying
TAMPA — A former police officer has pleaded not guilty to charges in the slaying of a Tampa police officer.
A public defender was appointed Monday to represent 34-year-old Humberto Delgado Jr. He pleaded not guilty to several charges, including first-degree murder and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.
Also during the hearing, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Denise Pomponio told attorneys that her husband had been a Tampa police sergeant. A hearing to allow both sides to discuss whether that is a potential conflict of interest is set for Sept. 21
Police say 38-year-old Cpt. Mike Roberts was shot once after confronting Delgado, who was pushing a loaded shopping cart on the street in a high-crime area of the city.
Authorities: Diver found dead off Miami
MIAMI — Authorities say a diver died while exploring waters off southeast Miami-Dade County.
The Coast Guard said 24-year-old Antonio Gonzalez died Sunday while he was out with two other divers going to see the Brewster Reef. Authorities say the trio was free-diving, which uses snorkels and masks instead of an air tank.
Miami-Dade police say all three surfaced in the area of the Fowey Rock Lighthouse off Key Biscayne around 2 p.m. Police say the weather was getting rough, so the men decided to swim back to their boat. After only two made it to the boat, they called for help. The missing diver was found nearby about an hour later.
Detectives are conducting a routine investigation.
6,000 gallons of fuel stolen from gas station
CLEARWATER — Police say 6,000 gallons of fuel — valued at $14,000 — were stolen from a Clearwater gas station.
No arrests have been made. Police say the robbery happened late Saturday night.
Authorities were called to the scene due to a strong smell of gasoline. When officers arrived, they found a pool of gas on the pavement and the tops of the underground storage tanks removed.
— Herald wire services