The Criminal Investigation Division contains a number of units responsible for follow-up investigation of the various types of crimes committed in Pasco County. These units process crime scenes, collect evidence, serve victims, recover stolen property, seize criminal assets and arrest law violators.
Units in this division include:
The Major Crimes Section has a total of three sergeants, 22 detectives and three secretaries. The unit is divided into three squads, which includes the Missing Persons Unit.
The Major Crimes Unit is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and investigates homicides and other deaths, sexual batteries, domestic violence, robbery, arson (involving injuries to persons), crimes against the elderly, and crimes against children (both physical and sexual), as well as child pornography. Two detectives are designated as the Missing Person’s Unit and are responsible for all runaway, missing children/adults, and child custody cases. The Unit is also responsible for various secondary assignments, such as the Missing/Abducted Child (MAC) Team and Project Lifesaver.
In July 2004, the Major Crimes Unit was awarded the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) STOP Violence Against Women grant. This grant has been renewed for the past seven years and pays for a detective to address the needs of the underserved Pasco County citizens who are victims of sexual and domestic-related crimes.
In April of 2009, a Major Crimes sergeant and two detectives became members of the Florida Attorney General’s Tampa Bay Area Cybercrime Task Force, which investigates child pornography cases, both within the county and throughout the state and federal jurisdictions. As part of the task force, they receive special training and dual certification under the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and their Blue Lightning program.
Two detectives from each of the Major Crimes squads are also members of the Tampa Bay Child Abduction Response Team (CART), which is coordinated through FDLE. This task force assists local agencies with child abduction investigations, such as the Jessica Lundsford and the Sara Lunde cases.
As part of its missing person responsibilities, Major Crimes also oversees Project Lifesaver. Project Lifesaver is a proactive program that allows electronic tracking of lost special needs adults and children through the use of small transmitters. The Pasco Sheriff’s Office is equipped with receivers to track the transmitters, which are usually worn on the rist like a watch. The PSO was the first in the Tampa Bay region to participate in this program and only the fourth in the state.
The Major Crimes Unit often works with other agencies including the FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, State Fire Investigators, U.S. Marshals, Child Protection Investigators and the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office.
The Victim Advocate Unit is made up of four advocates and is supervised by a Major Crimes sergeant. Victim advocates are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, responding to victims of crisis and violent crimes. Victim advocates provide support services throughout every stage of the criminal justice process including accompanying victims to trial. The victim advocates assess the needs of victims and their families to ensure they receive the proper help from other social service agencies.
The Property Crimes Section is made up of two squads, each serving a side of the county. There are two sergeants, 19 detectives, two secretaries and one clerk. The Property Crimes Unit is responsible for latent investigations involving burglary, theft, dealing in stolen property, felony criminal mischief, pawn violations, auto theft and miscellaneous crimes related to motor vehicles. The unit is also responsible for salvage yard inspections, pawnshop compliance and investigations involving second-hand metal recyclers.
The Property Crimes Unit investigates approximately 3,000 crimes a year. The Economic Crimes Unit is comprised of nine detectives and one sergeant. Several volunteers also serve this unit and help provide administrative support to detectives and victims.
Some of the criminal activity investigated by the Economic Crimes Unit includes identity theft, credit card and check fraud, forgery, exploitation of the elderly, computer-related crimes, internet-based crimes and schemes to defraud.
Due to the complexity of these investigations and jurisdictional issues, investigators work very closely with other agencies including the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspectors, the Florida Attorney General’s Office and the FDLE. Two Economic Crimes detectives are also members of a Counterfeiting Task Force, investigating counterfeit currency in Pasco County with the assistance of the U.S. Secret Service.
The Economic Crimes Unit’s mission is dedicated to aggressively pursuing individuals and/or entities that commit financial crimes against the citizens of Pasco County. By partnering with state and federal law enforcement, victim resource agencies, local businesses and the community, we are committed to serving citizens in the most professional and efficient manner.
The Economic Crimes Unit Computer Forensics Lab provides technical and investigative support in computer and internet crime investigations where computer systems or other digital evidence are the target of criminal activity or utilized to further any crime.
The Sex Offender Unit is composed of a sergeant, three detectives, a crime analyst and a registration clerk. The unit is responsible for the registration, monitoring, and investigation of registered sexual offenders, predators and career offenders throughout the county. The unit is also responsible for the registration of convicted felons as required by law. Detectives conduct multiple home visits on each sex offender and predator each year, verifying their address, employment and other required information. This tracking helps the offenders stay in compliance with their requirements to register, so we may keep the public informed of the location and identity of these individuals.
In 2010, the SOU made 44 arrests, 28 of those arrests were sex offenders who failed to register. The Sex Offender Unit detectives conducted 2,746 sex offender home address verifications. The unit also completed 1,992 sex offender registrations, 1,488 felon registrations, and nine career offender registrations.
The Vice & Narcotics Section is tasked with initiating and conducting covert investigations of crimes related to drugs, gangs, racketeering, terrorism, prostitution and gambling. Detectives assigned to the Vice & Narcotics Section also specialize in pharmaceutical diversion cases, work with federal (DEA) and local agency task forces, maintain sophisticated electronic equipment, gather intelligence regarding criminal activities, and provide information to agency members and the public.
In 2010, the unit initiated 2,342 cases resulting in the arrest of 1,254 subjects compared to 1,853 cases initiated and 849 subjects arrested in 2009. The unit dismantled 12 clandestine labs to include the largest Psilocybin lab ever discovered on the east coast of the United States. The unit also seized 13,385 grams (30 lbs) of powder and crack cocaine as well as 2,817 grams (7 lbs) of methamphetamine and ice. The unit realized the most drastic increases in the area of prescription pill-related offenses. In 2010, the unit seized 28,412 doses of pills as compared to 13,958 in 2009. Prescription pill-related cases accounted for 64% of all cases initiated by the unit in 2010.
The work of the Gang Unit resulted in the conclusion of a 16-month-long investigation into the criminal activities of the Lock Street Gang. As a result, 30 members and associates were arrested on 72 felony charges. Four members were federally indicted on drug trafficking and gun charges, resulting in the seizure of 44 firearms, 500 grams of cocaine and 545 grams of methamphetamine.
The School Resource Section is responsible for a variety of school-related services. The School Resource Officer (SRO) Unit is composed of two squads that provide law enforcement services to schools countywide. SROs also provide educational and crime prevention activities, law-related counseling, and positive interaction with students, staff and parents. The School Resource Officers are involved in the Crime Stoppers Program of Tampa Bay. This program is an avenue for students to be able to provide information regarding possible criminal activity in their school, anonymously and without fear of retaliation. Under this program, the students may be eligible for a reward.
The Youth Diversion Program, coordinated by the Youth Services Specialist of the Sheriff’s Office, operates in partnership with the Department of Juvenile Justice. The program accepts youth, ages 7-17, who have committed a misdemeanor or a third degree non-violent felony offense.
The program administers sanctions to the youth as a consequence for their crime including, but not limited to community service, mandatory school attendance, monitoring of school behavior and grades, restitution (if applicable), education classes, drug testing, and counseling (targeting various needs of the youth and family–anger management, drug counseling, etc.). The program can last from six to 12 weeks, depending on the needs of the youth and the family.
The Youth Services Specialist also coordinates the application process for the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranch. The Youth Ranch program is a voluntary program for troubled or dependent children that lasts six months to one year, depending on the needs of the child. Applications for the program are processed through the Youth Services Specialist for consideration by the Youth Ranch case coordinator for Pasco County.
The Middle School squad is composed of a sergeant and 13 SROs who serve 12 middle schools. These SROs coordinate and implement a variety of school-based programs including Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) for 6th graders.
The High School squad is composed of a sergeant and 15 SROs. These SROs are responsible for a wide variety of school-based initiatives, including mentoring, law-related career counseling and student campus patrol programs. One SRO is also in charge of the agency’s Explorer Program for those aged 14-21 interest in exploring the career of law enforcement.
During school holidays and summer break, SROs receive needed training, attend related conferences, and engage in special assignments to assist other agency units and the community. The School Resource Unit is partially funded by and operates under contract with the District School Board of Pasco County.
The SRO Unit also includes two grant-funded Officer Friendly positions that focus on lower-income areas of eastern Pasco County. As community-policing practitioners, these deputies strive for positive change in the communities they serve, particularly on quality-of-life issues for children. Each Officer Friendly maintains an office and children’s activity area where they engage children in positive and educational enrichment activities. They organize and empower residents to improve their neighborhoods, hold special community events for kids, and assist in preventing crime and improving the appearance and safety of their assigned areas. The Officer Friendly Program operates in cooperation with the Pasco Housing Authority.
The School Crossing Guard Unit is comprised of three civilian supervisors and 59 part-time civilian School Crossing Guards and Traffic Control Officers and substitutes stationed throughout the county. This unit is overseen by the Middle School Resource Officer sergeant. These civilians are responsible for the direction and control of pedestrian and vehicular traffic around schools to facilitate the safe and efficient passage of children to and from school. There are 55 posts serving 24 schools in unincorporated areas of the county. The unit is funded by the Sheriff’s Office and Pasco County. The Pasco Sheriff’s School Crossing Guard program was honored by Governor Jeb Bush as Florida’s School Crossing Guard Program of the Year in 2003.
The Forensic Services Section(FSS) is a uniformed component of the Criminal Investigations Division. It is comprised of 16 members, all serving countywide from their office located in Land O’Lakes. The section has 11 forensic investigators, two latent fingerprint examiners, one Section Chief and a secretary.
The duties and responsibilities of the members of the FSS are varied. By far, the most important duty performed by the FSS is crime scene documentation and evidence collection. Each forensic investigator must be skilled in the use of digital and video photography, crime scene assessment, evidence recognition and proper collection procedures, latent fingerprint identification and lifting techniques, the casting of tire and footprint impressions, sketching and measurements of interior and exterior scenes, blood stain assessments and collection, the use of alternate light sources and chemical developers, and a host of other skills needed to process a crime scene. Advances in technology and science help us solve more crimes every day and the importance of forensic investigators continues to grow. In recent years, calls for service by the Forensic Services Section have increased dramatically. The Intelligence-Led Policing Section is comprised of a lieutenant, a supervisor, a strategic analyst, six intelligence analysts, a crime analyst and an analytical support specialist. The primary functions of the analysts are to 1) develop timely and relevant intelligence products that address the tactical, operational and strategic information needs of the Sheriff’s Office, and 2) to develop and maintain in-depth awareness of and familiarity with evolutions in the criminal environment throughout Pasco County and, as needed, throughout the world.
The principal role of the analysts assigned to the section is to gather and interpret information on the criminal environment in a variety of ways, seeking to identify and evaluate emerging and existing trends. This information is continuously presented to the command staff to help determine personnel placement and specific strategies to employ. Some of the specific duties of ILP analysts within the Pasco Sheriff’s Office include:
- Actively gathering, reviewing and analyzing existing data on allcitizen-generated calls for service to determine existing and emerging trends affecting overall call volume. This is beneficial as the intelligence product created allows management to strategically place patrol deputies in areas where crime is most likely to occur, when it is most likely to occur based on a multitude of factors examined such as crimes reported, citizen-generated calls for service, etc.
- Maintaining a database providing investigative supportregarding, and tracking all prolific career offenders as a means to prevent recidivism and reduce crime.
- Actively maintaining liaison with and analyzing information oncriminal activity from non-traditional sources such as schools, businesses, health care providers, etc. The intelligence products created also help serve to determine patrol deployment strategies and prevent crime. It also assists investigative units significantly in a variety of ways from identifying specific suspects to identifying trends to assist with crime prevention efforts.
- Gathering, maintaining and analyzing data from the Department ofHealth Prescription Drug Monitoring Database to identify offenders operating in or affecting Pasco County.
- Maintaining liaison with internal components of the agency suchas the Detention Bureau to provide non-specific and specific information received from inmates on offenders, trends, etc. This information is added to and weighed against other information received to provide investigators with substantive leads.