By ELGIN JONES
COCONUT CREEK — A Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) detective caused a standoff with Coconut Creek Police after he sent a text message to his estranged wife threatening to kill himself.
But instead of being taken into custody via the state’s Baker Act, Det. Rodger Caron was released into the care of BSO brass who arrived on the scene.
Caron, who is assigned to the BSO Bomb Squad, was released to Broward Undersheriff Tom Wheeler.
Wheeler did not respond to calls and text messages sent while the incident was unfolding.
Judy Couwels, a BSO psychologist, was also called to the scene. When contacted at the scene, Couwels asked how the South Florida Times knew about the incident and obtained her cell phone number. She then abruptly ended the call.
Caron’s wife Wendi, from whom he is separated, called 911 around 4:30 p.m. on May 9 to report the suicide threat. Coconut Creek police arrived at his apartment and began mobilizing. His wife showed them a text message that read, “I’m done. You win. I’ll kill myself.”
A perimeter was set up and police efforts to reach Caron inside his apartment by phone were unsuccessful. After receiving no response, officers contacted BSO and Wheeler responded to the apartment, and called Couwels and Caron’s supervisor, Sgt. Chris McCoy, to the scene.
After some time, McCoy was able to talk Caron out of the apartment.
Police seized all of his weapons from the apartment. Couwels evaluated him and determined he was not a danger and the Baker Act was not invoked.
Enacted in 1971, the law, formally known as Florida’s Mental Health Act, allows for individuals who exhibit certain behavior whereby they may appear to be a threat to themselves or others to be involuntarily taken into custody and undergo a mental evaluation for up to 72 hours.
This week, officials with the Coconut Creek Police Department referred questions to the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Asked why the Baker Act was not invoked, Jim Leljedal, director of BSO’s Media Relations Department, said, “Coconut Creek contacted the Broward Sheriff’s Office regarding one of our employees. The Undersheriff, Col. Tom Wheeler, responded to check on the well-being of the employee. Other BSO personnel were present and worked in cooperation with the Coconut Creek Police Department to appropriately handle the matter.”
According to a police report about the incident, Caron initially volunteered to be taken to a hospital for evaluation but Wheeler asked that he be released into his custody instead.
*Pictured above is Broward Undersheriff Tom Wheeler.