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A Modernized Crime Prevention Strategy

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Each of the past five years, I have proudly shared with our community that Seminole County has the lowest crime rate in our now 108-year history.

Each of the past five years, I have proudly shared with our community that Seminole County has the lowest crime rate in our now 108-year history.

While we are witnessing historically low crime rates, crime trends constantly shift, and it is essential for law enforcement to modernize and focus resources where they are most beneficial to the community. The most significant thing we can do about crime is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. As such, the Sheriff’s Office will continue to address the underlying conditions that lead people down a road of criminal activity.

While we are certain that crime knows no jurisdictional boundaries, a proactive approach to reducing crime offers the best opportunity to keep the community safe, focusing on prolific offenders, hot spot enforcement, and neighborhood policing.
To that end, in July 2019, Seminole County law enforcement leaders created the In-Progress Crime Unit (IPCU) to focus on the smaller number of offenders who commit a majority of crime, respond to and diligently follow up on significant criminal events in our community, and reduce victimization. This initiative concentrates on prolific offenders – those individuals who are documented as repeat offenders with the greatest propensity to commit crimes in our county. As a supplement to our uniformed deputies and municipal police officers, the IPCU provides the necessary follow-through for these crimes, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries within Seminole County.

Imagine a series of retail thefts to which deputies and police officers respond with minimal leads. Rather than continuing a reactive approach to these crimes, the IPCU gathers information and intelligence about the thefts, offering a better idea of when and where the next crime will occur. Armed with the latest intelligence information throughout the county, region, and state, IPCU members are commonly able to identify the offender(s), conduct undercover surveillance, build a strong case, and arrest those involved. The IPCU also works directly with many of our adjacent law enforcement partners in Orange, Lake, Volusia, and Brevard counties.

What started as a property crime unit has evolved into a more strategic unit, addressing more serious crimes, such as drug and firearm arrests. We feel strongly these apprehensions make a big difference in our community as prolific offenders are believed to be committing upwards of 95 percent of local crimes. This proactive approach modernizes the way we solve 
crime while enhancing our day-to-day operations serving the community. Additionally, the response and immediate follow-up by this team deliver results that help to reduce crime and victimization.

As I’ve said before, crime is usually a symptom of another problem. Most individuals do not wake up one day and decide to begin a life of criminal activity. More than likely, there is a root cause for these actions that can often be traced back to substance abuse or mental-health issues. Due to the unintended consequences of COVID-19, Seminole County witnessed a 60-percent increase in drug overdoses from 2019 to 2020. The IPCU works closely with our opioid response team – Seminole Collaborative Opioid Response Efforts – to assist in ending the opioid crisis. In 2020, the IPCU made 36 narcotics-related arrests and seized 31 illegal firearms.

Creating focused units like the IPCU helps the Sheriff’s Office and municipal police departments strategically prevent crime and has added to our low-crime-rate success. We appreciate the support of our community, the police departments, and other sheriff’s offices who have contributed to our accomplishments. Our modernized approach to crime-solving affords Seminole County citizens with highly specialized services to enhance their quality of life.

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