Skip navigation links
Sheriff Grady Judd
News Room
Inside PCSO
Fugitives & Offenders
Careers
Animal Control
Citizen Info
Crime Prevention
Inquiries
Contact Us
Stop Graffiti
Skip navigation links
Chief of Staff Biography
Office of Communications
Director of Office of Communications Biography
Crime Prevention
Public Information Office
PIO On Call Calendar
Chaplaincy Corps
Office of Legal Affairs
Office of Professional Compliance
Administrative Investigations Section
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.  Carrie joined the Public Information Office in 2002.  She spent 6 years in the U.S. Air Force as a Cryptologic Arabic Linguist, and has a Bachelor's degree from Troy University in Criminal Justice. 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 Donna Wood began her career with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in December 1994 as a Crime Prevention Specialist.  She has served as a community liaison the duration of her tenure and served nine years as the Crime Prevention Administrator.  She holds a Certified Public Manager certification from Florida State University, a Bachelor’s Degree, Mass Communications (Public Relations) - University of South Florida, Tampa, and a Masters of Science in Management from Troy University, Tampa.  She is the 2011 Past President of the Dick Pope/Polk County Florida Public Relations Association.  Donna can be reached via email at dcwood@polksheriff.org, or in her office at 863-298-6631.

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:   

We encourage you to share your thoughts as they relate to the topic being discussed.  You are fully responsible for the content of your comments.  We welcome your comments, but we expect comments generally to be courteous, follow our rules of decorum, and be related to the posting being discussed.  To that end, we have established the following policy and we reserve the discretion to remove 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.  In short:  be nice.  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 Facebook site.  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.