October 2005


in this issue
  • A Note from Sheriff Judd
  • Hurricane Recovery Team Responds To Mississippi
  • New Northwest District Command Center To Open
  • Don't Become A Victim of Mail Theft!

    Hurricane Recovery Team Responds To Mississippi
    hurricane convoy

    PCSO hurricane recovery team members recently returned from the storm-ravaged area of Waveland, Mississippi, after spending more than a month offering local area law enforcement assistance and support following the catastrophic hit of Hurricane Katrina.

    The first wave of Polk emergency responders left in a convoy for Mississippi on Aug. 31. Upon arrival, the Polk team was assigned to assist in the area of Waveland, Mississippi, and immediately set up a staging area in the parking lot of a damaged Wal- Mart center. Polk team members encountered total destruction in the area, and worked to assist local law enforcement, who lost their police stations and equipment. As part of their mission, Polk recovery team members provided law enforcement services, search and rescue efforts, and humanitarian aid while stationed in the disaster area. The Polk team arrived on site fully self-sufficient - meals, extra tires, complete communication system, mobile command center, mobile shower facility, and more - so as not to drain needed resources from local law enforcement.

    "In times of natural disasters and catastrophes, it is of the utmost importance for law enforcement agencies to know they can count on each other to assist in providing support and assistance," said Sheriff Grady Judd. "We were committed to staying on site long enough to help local law enforcement re-group and re-establish their command and operations." To this end, the PCSO donated and transported 7 patrol vehicles to the Hancock County Sheriff's Office for their use following the loss of numerous patrol cars to the storm. Additionally, PCSO recovery team members helped transport a variety of donated items to the storm areas: over $300,000 worth of donated food, clothes and dry goods; and over half a ton of horse and dog feed. You can be proud of your outstanding PCSO members.


    New Northwest District Command Center To Open

    In a move to better serve the fast growing North Lakeland area, the Polk County Sheriff's Office is celebrating the opening of a new PCSO Northwest Central Command center this month. The new Northwest Command building is located at 1045 Wedgewood Estates Blvd. in North Lakeland (across the street from Best Buy). The new building boasts 12,620 square feet (that’s double the space of the former substation located near Sam's Club), and sits on a 2.27 acre-site. There is plenty of parking and room for future expansion to handle growth in the area.

    The new Northwest Central Command features a briefing room and improved office space for the more than 80 deputies, detectives,and administrative and support staff who serve the Northwest District area. Most importantly, the new command station features a large community room that will be available to the area residents and groups for meetings and other events, resulting in improved community interaction and partnerships. Citizens can call the new Northwest main office at 577-1600.


    Don't Become A Victim of Mail Theft!

    Given the recent arrests of a group of Lakeland suspects for a string of mailbox thefts and the operation of an identification counterfeiting scheme, we would like to take this opportunity to urge you to follow a few simple tips to help prevent falling victim to mail theft.

    Last month, PCSO deputies received information about a suspect vehicle reportedly stealing mail from mailboxes in the North Lakeland area. Deputies responded, and apprehended the suspects. During a search of the vehicle, detectives discovered a bag containing envelopes and checks stolen from at least 23 victims. The subsequent investigation revealed that the suspects were stealing mail and checks from Polk residents' mailboxes, and using that stolen information to create counterfeit checks, identification cards and driver licenses.

    We ask that you partner with us in fighting this type of crime by following a few mail theft crime prevention tips: Mail outgoing parcels - especially checks, currency and bill payments - at the Post Office or secure postbox only. Suspects have been known to cruise a selected neighborhood in search of those mailboxes with the flag up signifying outgoing mail. Suspects then sort through the outgoing mail, zeroing in on those envelopes that may contain checks, bill payments or credit card applications. Checks are stolen, altered and then cashed - and the victim often is not aware of the theft until notified that the check was never received by the intended company/person. Another target is credit card applications. Thieves often will intercept a “pre-approved” application/card being sent to a customer. Before the victim is even aware that he/she has received a credit card, a suspect may have used the card numerous times for purchases. Together, we can successfully prevent and discourage mail theft and identification fraud.


    A Note from Sheriff Judd
    Your support - as concerned and involved citizens of this county - is extremely important to us at the Polk County Sheriff's Office as we gear up to continue the quest for sufficient funding of one of our most successful and life-changing programs: the Juvenile Boot Camp.

    Each and every year, we work hard to secure continued support and funding from the State to keep our Juvenile Boot Camp up and running. On a positive note, we recently received encouraging feedback from a number of Legislators following a tour of the facility and program. Florida State House Representatives Joe Negron, Mitch Needelman, John Stargel, and Marty Bowen joined me for a tour last month of the Polk County Juvenile Boot Camp to learn about the program’s unique strengths and emphasis on education and vocational training.

    All these members, and our entire local legislative delegation, understand the importance of our Boot Camp and the importance of maintaining quality prevention and rehabilitation programs for juveniles in trouble with the law. I am glad they took the time to see first hand how innovative and effective our program is—and how valuable our education and vocational programs are.

    It is not enough to simply punish these kids; we have got to give them the tools they will need to be productive and lawful citizens. The Boot Camp is a tough love program that focuses on academic education, vocational education, and ethical and moral responsibility.

    We need your support. I encourage you to write or call our State representatives in support of this vital and productive program.

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    Your Donations Helping Young Mother More than $36,500 has been donated to the fund created to help assist Canesha Blackman, the woman who had been living in a Polk County shelter when she was featured in a local newspaper for returning a lost bag containing valuables and cash belonging to a Polk Sheriff’s Office detective. Following publication of the newspaper article (The Ledger, Friday, Aug. 19, 2005 edition) spotlighting Ms. Blackman’s selfless act, numerous concerned members of the public donated money and needed items to help Ms. Blackman as she faces the challenges of rebuilding her life.