Date: September 16, 2002 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact:

Michal Shanley, 863 534-6631 or 819-0397 pager

Carrie Rodgers, (863) 534-6217 OR (863) 819-1856, Pager

Polk County Sheriff's Office Auto Theft Task Force Recognized

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office recently received the good news that the agency’s Auto Theft Task Force will be recognized on Tuesday, September 17, 2002, by the Florida Anti-Car Theft (FACT) Committee at their “Summit on Auto Theft in Florida”.  The summit will be held at the Wyndham Harbour Island hotel, 725 S. Harbour Island Blvd., in Tampa.  The PCSO’s Auto Theft Task Force (ATT) was chosen by the FACT 2001 Annual Awards Program as a winner from among several nominees across the state.

The FACT is comprised of representatives from different Florida law enforcement agencies.  Each year, FACT recognizes law enforcement members and agencies in three different award categories: Individual Member, Individual Agency, and Task Force.  The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is the sole recipient of the Task Force Award, chosen by a panel of insurance representatives and Chief John Czernis of the Florida Highway Patrol.

The PCSO Auto Theft Task (ATT) Force was developed 9 years ago in response to a growing trend in Florida of auto thefts and auto-theft related crimes.  The Sheriff’s Office applied for and received federal grant funding, which, among other things, pays the salaries of 3 full-time detectives and a crime analyst.  The Task Force must fulfill certain grant requirements, such as public awareness and training; anti-auto theft education; VIN etching programs; location and identification of “chop shops”; and long-term investigations into illegal activities, such as racketeering.  One major component of the success of the ATT is that there is one Assistant State Attorney dedicated to prosecuting all cases brought forward by the Task Force.

Colonel Gary Hester, Major Richard Sloan, Sgt. Garry James, who oversees the Task Force, and the detectives and analyst who comprise the Task Force, will be in Tampa on Tuesday to receive the award.  Although grant funds will no longer be available to fund the ATT after this fiscal year, the Sheriff’s Office plans on continuing to man the Task Force due to its highly successful impact on crime in Polk County.

Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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