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Public Information Office 

The Public Information Office is responsible for sending out news releases; handling all media inquiries; releasing public records in compliance with the Florida Public Records Law; composing and sending out Crimestoppers bulletins; scheduling and conducting news conferences; coordinating agency crisis communications; creating and distributing two monthly newsletters for both internal and external customers; developing news items for the Sheriff’s News Network, an electronic bulletin board for internal and external customers; and handling numerous other special projects as requested by the Sheriff and PCSO senior management.

The Public Information Office operates within the Office of Communications. The Public Information Office is staffed with two Public Information Officers (PIOs) who share the 24-hour on-call responsibilities. Both PIOs work Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., in the office. Every other week one will be on-call after hours and on weekends for news-breaking or emergency situations, at which times they can be reached via cell phone. Please see our On-Call Policy listed with our On-Call Calendar for more information.

PIO Carrie Eleazer Horstman began her career at the Sheriff’s Office in 1999 working for the Law Enforcement Colonel. Prior to working at PCSO, she spent 6 years in the U.S. Air Force as a Cryptologic Arabic Linguist. She joined the PIO office in 2002. She has a Bachelor's degree from Troy University in Criminal Justice, and an MBA from Southeastern University. She also holds a Certified Public Manager certification from Florida State University. Carrie is the Treasurer and past President of the Florida Law Enforcement Public Information Officers Association (FLEPIOA). Carrie can be reached via email at carrie@polksheriff.org, or in her office at 863-298-6217. For more information about FLEPIOA, visit www.flepioa.org.

PIO Michele Cash began her career with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in July 2015 as a Crime Prevention Specialist. She was promoted to Accreditation Manager in 2016, and joined the PIO office in 2017. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from East Stroudsburg University (PA), and a Master's Degree in Public Relations from Rowan University (NJ). Michele can be reached via email at mcash@polksheriff.org, or in her office at 863-298-6631.

PIO Brian Bruchey began his career at the Sheriff’s Office in 2007 as a patrol deputy, following graduation from Polk State’s Kenneth C Thompson Institute of Public Safety. Prior to working at PCSO, he worked as a radio and television broadcaster for 19 years, mostly in the Dayton, Ohio area. In Florida, he’s worked for WDBO in Orlando, WONN, WLKF, Max 98.3, and 97.5 WPCV in Lakeland, and as a writer for Today & Tonight Magazine. Brian joined the PIO Office in 2017. Brian can be reached via email at bbruchey@polksheriff.org, or in his office at 863-298-6341.

All news releases are put into News Release on the PCSO website, and are also distributed electronically to all local media and law enforcement agencies.  News releases are later archived in the News Room area of the website.

Check out our News Room for a database of news releases, pictures, and sound clips dating back to 2000. 

Public Information Office On-Call Policy:

The Public Information Office strives to be responsive and professional, acting in compliance with the Florida Public Records law and in the best interest of the agency, the news media, and the people of Polk County. Routine media inquiries and records requests are handled as expeditiously as possible during normal business hours. After hours and on weekends, a PIO is always on-call for emergencies and for significant breaking news events.

After hours, the on-call PIO will generally not have information regarding non-fatal car crashes, routine arrests, crimes not resulting in death or critical injury, or the status of cases that are not considered breaking news.

Written records, including arrest affidavits and event reports, are not made available to the PIOs after hours or on weekends, however, arrest reports can be obtained by the media from the jail at Central Book-In in Bartow. 

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office Public Information staff maintains the PCSO social media sites which include Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and YouTube.  These sites were established in an effort to provide the community immediate access to information about breaking news, special events, crime prevention and public safety.

Social Media Posting Policy:     

Thank you for following the Polk County Sheriff’s Office on social media! We welcome you to share your thoughts and feedback with us, and we ask that you please be responsible and courteous in your comments and replies. We reserve the right to hide/remove any comments or ban any users who violate our policy. Comments that contain obscene, indecent, or profane language; contain threats or defamatory statements; are bullying, intimidating, or harassing any user; contain personal attacks; contain hate speech; promote or endorse services or products; suggest or encourage illegal activity; are multiple, repetitive off-topic posts by a single user (spam); are not topically related to the particular posting; violate a legal ownership interest of any other party; or imbed links to other Internet sites may be hidden/removed. Users who violate this policy may be banned. We also do not allow the general public to share posts, websites, videos, or images on our page.

Our rules of decorum are in place to encourage civil discourse and to prevent a poster from disrupting dialog in a way that prevents or impedes the accomplishment of the purpose of our social media sites.  Our purpose is to convey important public safety information, increase our ability to quickly, effectively, and efficiently reach Polk County and Central Florida residents to help us find criminal suspects, find missing and/or endangered persons, communicate public safety alerts, and further our mission of preventing, reducing, suppressing, displacing, solving, and fighting crime in Polk County.