Most people may wonder what happens to a crime once it has been reported. After a deputy writes a report about an incident, the report is sent to records where it is entered into the computer system and then forwarded to the Investigations Unit. The Investigations Unit will then review each report and prioritize them based on the amount of solvability factors that are present, especially serious crimes. Once the screening process is complete, the cases are then assigned to investigators who conduct follow up investigations.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Unit is currently comprised of seventeen investigators and ten civilians who provide a wide spectrum of investigative services including criminal investigations, crimes against children, crime scene investigations, victims advocacy, and crime analysis. Investigators are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to respond to emergency investigative needs but are normally available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. to provide assistance where needed.
General criminal investigations includes such crimes as assault, robbery, fraud, and homicide. An investigator may be assigned a homicide investigation one day and a forgery case the next. Investigators work the crime scene thru the investigation and into the courts. Crime scene investigators are responsible for the collection and preservation of crime scene evidence. They process all the evidence and photography for the crime scene as well as maintain the property and evidence submitted by officers. Like other investigators, crime scene investigators are also available for call out 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
There are currently two investigators assigned to cases in which a crime has been committed against a child, one of whom is an executive board member for the Emerald Coast Child Advocacy Center in Niceville. They investigate all cases involving exploitation, neglect, abandonment, and physical or sexual abuse against a child. They also handle all cases concerning elderly abuse. They work with Child Pornography Task Force members from local law enforcement agencies, FBI, U.S. Customs, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement in investigating such things as internet child pornography. If you know of a child who is being abused in any way, call the Sheriff’s Office at (850) 651-7400 or the confidential abuse hotline toll-free at 1-800-96-ABUSE.
Investigations also has a Crime Analysis Unit which collects, analyzes, and disseminates information within the Sheriff’s Office and to outside agencies such as The Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The Crime analyst receives and reviews a great volume of information every day and provides statistical analysis of current topics of concern which have an impact on the county.