February 2006
Thank you for taking the time to read this e-mail newsletter to find out what's new here at the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Feel free to share with us any thoughts or ideas you may have on how we can better serve you as well. Enjoy this latest edition of the Cyber Star!
in this issue
  • A Note from Sheriff Judd
  • Polk County Crime Rate Hits Record Low!
  • Arrest Made With Help From Crime Stoppers Cards
  • PCSO Welcomes New Volunteer Services Supervisor

    Polk County Crime Rate Hits Record Low!
    crime rate

    Polk County's crime rate in the unincorporated areas continues to decline, according to the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) statistics reported annually to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The chart seen here depicts how the crime rate is lower now than ever recorded.

    The crime rate, which is the number of crimes per 1,000 residents, was 3.17% in 2005, down from 3.21% in 2004. This is the lowest crime rate ever measured in unincorporated Polk. Reliable crime statistics in Polk County start in 1971, when the crime rate was 4.16%.

    "Thanks to the hard-working men and women of the Polk County Sheriff's Office and the community partnerships we continue to seek and strengthen," says Sheriff Judd, "the people of Polk County are safer than they have been in the past three decades."


    Arrest Made With Help From Crime Stoppers Cards

    Last month we told you about a coordinated effort between the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Crime Stoppers to reach out to inmates with a deck of playing cards that feature most wanted fugitives and unsolved cases. That effort recently paid off with the arrest of a man wanted for a 2004 murder.

    In October 2005, a Polk County Jail inmate recognized 36-year-old Thomas Wayne Grammer, who was shot to death on May 7, 2004, inside his home in Lakeland during a robbery, on one of the playing cards that featured Grammer's photo and information about the unsolved homicide. After the inmate recognized Grammer's case in the deck of cards, he asked to speak to an investigator and provide the name of a man who claimed to have killed Grammer. With that information, investigators were able to pull information from another witness and eventually settle on two suspects, Jason Seawright, 29, and 33-yearold Reggie Williams, who were later charged with Grammer's murder.

    Under Sheriff Grady Judd’s direction, the Sheriff’s Office partnered with Polk Crime Stoppers to create and produce two decks of Crime Stoppers playing cards that are handed out to inmates in the jail system. The arrests marked the first time the playing cards solved a Polk County homicide, and it could be the first time in the nation where playing cards featuring homicide victims have solved a killing, said Wayne Cross, executive director of Polk County Crime Stoppers.

    “The goal of this effort is to reach out to the inmate population, offer them a cash reward, and hopefully increase the number of Crime Stoppers tips about crimes and wanted criminals,” said Polk Sheriff Grady Judd. “These recent arrests prove that this innovative idea works, and we are excited about the prospects of putting even more criminals behind bars with information gained from inmates."


    PCSO Welcomes New Volunteer Services Supervisor

    Linda Holewski recently joined the Sheriff's Office family to supervise the volunteer program, which includes the agency's volunteer chaplains; deputy sheriff reserves; retired/alumni members; and the highly popular Citizen's Assisted Patrol (C.A.P.) program.

    Since the inception of the Sheriff’s Office C.A.P. program in 2004, there has been an overwhelmingly positive response and demand from communities all around Polk County. C.A.P. is a volunteer program designed to enhance Neighborhood Watch and reduce criminal activity. As part of the C.A.P. program, the Sheriff’s Office provides a 10 hour training course to citizens wanting to implement this successful program in their neighborhood, covering a variety of areas including: how to identify suspicious activities; keeping deputies informed of suspicious activities; and report writing. Upon completion of training, volunteers receive a C.A.P. t-shirt, communication equipment, a specially marked golf cart or patrol car with which they use to patrol the neighborhood and assist Sheriff’s deputies.

    Currently in Polk County there are 17 C.A.P. communities and over 800 volunteers, so as you can see, Linda has her work cut out for her! Linda is assigned to the Crime Prevention Unit and she can be reached at 863-534-6683 should you have any questions about the volunteer programs she supervises.


    A Note from Sheriff Judd
    Effective communication is difficult with any large organization. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is no different. I get internal feedback regarding communication all the time: “I didn’t know about that event,” or “I had no idea we did that,” or “How come nobody told me?” We are trying to do better. Hey, it’s hard for me to keep up with everything going on, too.

    We are taking communication to the next level at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office! You’re probably familiar with traditional methods of communication in large organizations: memos, newsletters, bulletin boards, e-mail (lots and lots of e-mail), and, in our case, our Internet and Intranet site—we at the Sheriff’s Office have traditionally used these word-based mediums to communicate with each other inside our agency. Now, thanks to an advanced technology demonstration grant, we will be using video to increase our ability to communicate with each other, and with the public.

    Academic studies have shown that most people today prefer to get their news and information on television. We are going to make use of this fact to further enhance our ability to get information to our members and to those who visit our facilities: we are launching our own television information network.

    We will also have a “public channel” at each of our facilities where there is a public reception area. We will provide members of the public important information: such as where to go for public records and answers to commonly asked questions. I look forward to seeing you on the Sheriff's News Network, coming soon!

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