The Criminal Investigations Section is tasked with investigating crimes against persons and property throughout the county. These crimes include burglaries of homes, businesses and vehicles, robberies, grand thefts, aggravated assaults, battery, sex crimes, fraud and homicide. Detectives are assigned cases on a daily basis and investigate them to their conclusion. Cases are closed in several ways; they may conclude with an arrest, the filing of a Probable Cause Affidavit, a Waiver of Prosecution, or by deactivating the case. Sometimes detectives find that a crime did not actually occur. These cases are reclassified as unfounded or civil in nature.
The Sheriff’s Office drug laboratory performs testing on the drugs seized during arrests made by all of the law enforcement agencies in Sarasota County. Quantitative and qualitative testing is done using state-of-the-art analysis equipment. The laboratory’s equipment was originally funded through a grant from the Selby Foundation.
The Forensics Section is a vital link in the investigation of crimes committed in Sarasota County. This small, technically oriented unit utilizes the latest in available crime scene technology. The team is highly trained to document crime scenes and items of evidentiary value, and collect evidence. Once collected, items are processed in the forensics laboratory and turned over to the property office where they are stored pending criminal proceedings. The Forensics Section also handles all fingerprint evidence, which is stored in the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and evaluated by latent print experts. The Forensics Unit photo lab processes and prints all crime scene photographs that are subsequently used in investigations and courtroom proceedings.
The Intelligence Section is dedicated to gathering, analyzing and disseminating criminal intelligence to assist with the agency’s law enforcement mission. Data collected includes organized crime and extremist activities and specific tactical intelligence relating to day-to-day law enforcement. The section works closely with surrounding law enforcement agencies and other state and federal partners. Homeland Defense is an important aspect of this cooperative effort. Successful counter-terrorism activities are a combination of federal law enforcement initiatives and the grassroots efforts of local law enforcement agencies. It is this section’s mission to detect, deter and mitigate threats to America’s homeland. Crime analysis is a pivotal part of the Intelligence Section. Crime Analysts are tasked with the development of crime trends in the community and utilize various technical resources to accomplish this goal.
The agency’s Special Investigations Section is responsible for conducting narcotic and vice investigations in the county. These detectives work in an undercover capacity in order to accomplish their assignments. They utilize informants, citizen information and surveillance techniques to investigate illegal drug distribution. As part of this section, the Pharmaceutical Diversion Investigative Unit focuses on the illegal distribution of legal medication. This effort is in response to the growing illegal use of pharmaceutical drugs for recreational purposes and the crime problem that coincides with addiction.
The Special Victims Unit is a component of the Investigative Bureau. This unit is tasked with follow-up investigations of crimes against children, child death or injury cases and crimes against the elderly such as abuse and/or exploitation. The unit works closely with Florida Department of Children and Families Child Protection Investigators and Adult Protection Investigators. Detectives within the unit attend frequent training dealing with child interviews, family dependency issues and neglect or fraud relating to the elderly. Also within the unit is a detective specifically assigned to investigate internet crimes against children that are initiated through internet contacts or file sharing of explicit materials depicting the exploitation of children.