The Special Victims Section is comprised of Special Victims Units, the Child Protection Referral Unit, Missing Persons Unit, Victim/Witness Advocates and the Special Victims Response Team.
Members assigned to this section investigate child physical and sexual abuse, adult sexual abuse, abuse of the elderly, runaway, and missing persons. They are also charged with locating and arresting sexual offenders and sexual predators who have failed to register, absconded or failed to maintain compliance with Florida Statutes. Their specialized training gives them skills and experience needed to carefully investigate these crimes and to arrest offenders in an effort to make our community a safer place in which to live.
All of the members of the Special Victims Section are dedicated to the investigation of cases that are, unfortunately, often both disturbing and distressing.
Missing Persons Unit
The Missing Persons Unit is comprised of two detectives, two sheriff’s service officers (SSO), and a sergeant. The detectives are charged with investigating selected missing person cases and alleged abuse cases occurring within juvenile institutions within the county.
One sheriff’s service officer is charged with the investigation of all missing person cases that are reported to the Sheriff’s Office. The other SSO acts as a liaision with the State Attorneys Office. The cases investigated by members of the unit include those involving runaways, missing persons, and missing and endangered persons. The Missing Persons Unit also coordinates with the agency’s own Computer Crimes Unit and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, providing help in the investigation of endangered missing juveniles and cases involving Internet enticement.
The Missing Persons Unit also uses the Internet extensively in searching for missing people and has been quite successful with its efforts. The most recent success was the location and return of an endangered juvenile from Greece.
Missing Persons Files
Child Protection Referral Unit
The Child Protection Referral Unit is comprised of five sheriff’s service officers and a sergeant. These members are charged with receiving reports of alleged child abuse from the Florida Department of Children and Families (DC&F) and reviewing those reports and consulting with child protection investigators of the DC&F regarding the allegations contained in those reports. They then forward substantiated, suspicious, or false reports to the Special Victims Units for follow up investigation and final disposition. They also forward previously unreported instances of domestic violence for investigation.
During their investigations, members conduct criminal background checks, warrant inquiries, and state and local checks on the parties involved in the referrals that they review. Sheriff’s service officers review some 300 to 400 referrals each month and generate reports to document their findings and for reference by detectives. The Child Protection Referral Unit works closely with other local, state, and local agencies to ensure the safety of all children and elderly adults within Polk County.
Special Victims Unit
The Special Victims Unit is comprised of thirteen detectives and two sergeants. Detectives assigned to the Special Victims Unit are primarily involved in the investigation of physical and sexual abuse against children, adult sexual abuse, and elderly abuse. Within the unit one detective is assigned as the liaison to the Office of the State Attorney to assist attorneys in the Special Prosecutions Division with further investigation, interviews, and in the preparation of cases for trial.
Victim/witness advocates provide services to those victimized due to criminal offences which have occurred within Polk County. Services include transportation to and from court proceedings, assistance with filing injunctions for protection, submission with victim’s compensation applications and distribution of 911 cell phones to domestic violence victims. These services are provided free of charge.
Special Victims Response Team
The Special Victims Response Team (SVRT) is comprised of two detectives, a data analyst and one sergeant. This unit is charged with locating and arresting sexual offenders, sexual predators and career offenders, who have either failed to register, absconded or failed to maintain compliance with Florida Statutes. Detectives conduct quarterly verification of all Sexual Offenders, sexual Predators and career offenders residing within the jurisdiction of Polk County.
Specialized Law Enforcement Response to Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office with grant funding through the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence will provide a Specialized Law Enforcement Response to Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking. This will be accomplished by enhancing the probability of prosecuting those individuals who commit the listed offenses thus making the offenders accountable for their actions and providing direct services to victim/survivors to allow them the needed support and a sense of empowerment. Additionally, The Intimate Violence Enhanced Services Team (INVEST) is a unique program designed to provide intensive service management and assistance to individuals identified to be in potentially lethal situations. INVEST's unique model allows law enforcement and domestic violence centers to work together to identify victims at high risk for homicide and to enhance their possibility of receiving safety from further victimization.
Access to these services may be reached by contacting: Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863-298-6200 or 1-800-226-0344;
Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence- Florida Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119 or TDD (800) 621-4202; and/or
Peace River Center 24 hour Domestic Violence Crisis Hotline 863-413-2700/Sexual Assault Crisis Hotline 863-413-2707