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F.A.Q.

Crime Scene / Evidence

What are the duties of a crime scene and (or) evidence investigator? 

There are numerous fields under the umbrella of “crime scene”. A Crime Scene or Forensic Investigator is an individual who responds to initial crime scenes and with the assistance/direction of a police investigator, documents, photographs, measures, and collects evidence. An Evidence Technician is an individual who intakes evidence at the police departments evidence section. An Evidence Technician is usually responsible for maintaining the evidence for the police department in accordance with police policy and Florida State statutes. A Forensic Analyst typically does not go into the “field’; however they work in a “laboratory” environment and analyze specific areas of forensic investigation such as DNA or microanalysis. 

What surfaces or objects can you recover latent fingerprints from? 

Latent fingerprints are left behind (latent) when an individual touches an item with their fingertips (palm prints can also be identified). Fingerprints have been recovered from blocks of wood, concrete, and even human skin. There are hundreds of techniques to recover latent fingerprints. The individual attempting to recover the fingerprints must know which method (dyes, powders, chemicals, combinations) to use on the surface or item from which they wish to obtain the latent fingerprints. Even though it is possible to recover latent fingerprints from many surfaces, if the prints lack detailed characteristics, they cannot be identified. 

What is done with evidence once a case has been “settled’? 

Florida State statutes determine where, when and how evidence that is recovered, and disposed of by a police agency. All contraband (illegal drugs, counterfeit items, illegal guns) are either destroyed or turned over to a Federal agency (secret service, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms). Items that are recovered as found or abandoned property are returned to the rightful owner (if located). Almost all items have State mandated retention periods, in order to “purge” evidence and prevent huge amounts from accumulating. There are several crimes that have no retention period. In other words, if a suspect is not tried and convicted, the evidence must be kept indefinitely. Most capitol and some life felonies (murder, sexual battery (child) are among the crimes that have no retention period. 

What is the “chain of custody”?
 
Chain of custody is a term that is used in law enforcement and the practice of law in general to indicate the “journey” of an item of evidence from the time it is recovered until it is presented in court at trial. Chain of custody is mainly utilized to determine if the evidence may have been “tainted”. Once an item is turned in to the evidence section or recovered by a crime scene investigator, it is documented as to how, where, what, and why the item was recovered. If the item must be released from evidence after the initial entry, yet before the trial (testing, reviewing by investigators), the evidence technician must record the name, date and reason for the release. Once an item is returned, the evidence technician must assure the item is enacted and document its return (date, time, reason). When the chain of custody is maintained correctly, there no doubt how the evidence was recovered and where it has been before trial. 

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) comparison have been used to find people guilty and innocent of crimes that occurred years ago, how long can DNA last?
 
Depending on the conditions and the source of the DNA; theoretically indefinitely (frozen mammoth). DNA is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development of all living organisms. A DNA profile can be recovered from bodily fluids such as blood and saliva as well as skin cells. If DNA evidence is kept frozen and properly packaged, a profile could be obtained decades or possibly centuries later. 

What happens to personal property that is recovered by the Police Department? 

Property is generally held for two reasons. The first reason is an Officer has located abandoned/found property and the rightful owner cannot be established at the scene. The Officer must turn the property over to the evidence section. At that point, the evidence section is responsible for locating the rightful owner. According to Florida State statute 705.103 a “reasonable effort” must be made to locate the rightful owner. If the rightful owner is not located, the property is considered abandoned and falls under Florida State statute 705.105. This statute states, once a piece of property has been deemed “abandoned”, a description of the item must be posted at the Police Department or “public place” for two consecutive weeks. If the value of the property is over $100.00, the item must be listed in a local publication for the same amount of time. If the property is not claimed after a reasonable effort has been made to locate the rightful owner and the item/property has been posted (as listed above), the item can be sold at auction, used by the Police Department, destroyed, or turned over to a non-profit, charitable organization.

The second reason is recovered property, taken in as evidence of a crime. This property can be that of the suspect(s) (fingerprints, DNA, clothing) or that of the victim (recovered/stolen items, vehicles). Once the property has been taken in as evidence, it can only be returned when the States Attorney’s Office has determined the disposition of the case. After the disposition, an individual (victim or suspect) has sixty days to recover their property. Pursuant to Florida State statute 775.012, if the property is not recovered by the rightful owner after sixty days, the property can be considered abandoned and the above listed State statue (705.105) would apply.

It should also be noted that illegal drugs, guns, and other contraband will be destroyed once the disposition of a case has been determine, pursuant to Florida State statutes. In any case, where the Judge finds cause not to return property, and orders so, the property will not be returned. If a person is sentenced to prison for a crime and is eligible for appeal under Florida State statutes, the evidence must be retained until the appeals process is exhausted.


Criminal Investigations Unit
 
What happens when I file a report and arrest is not made right away? 

Any report that is not resolved by a Patrol Officer will be sent to the Criminal Investigations Unit. The report will be evaluated by the unit supervisor, and either returned to the Patrol Officer for follow-up, forwarded to the Street Crimes Unit supervisor if appropriate, or assigned to a Detective. 

How soon after I file a report will I hear from a Detective? 

The report can take a few days to make it through the approval and recording process before being sent to the Criminal Investigations Unit. Weekends and holidays can extend the time period for the report to make its way through the necessary channels. Once received and evaluated, each case is assigned to an investigator. If a Detective is assigned, he or she should contact you within a week to ten days after you file the report, however it could be more or less time depending on case load and the severity of the crime committed. 

If I have additional information on my case, what should I do?
 
You can either contact the Detective assigned to your case, or call the Police Department and ask for a Patrol Officer to complete a supplemental report if the Detective is not available. 

What should I do if a suspect in my case, or anybody else, threatens or harasses me about making a report? 

Immediately call the Police Department to report the situation. Intimidation of a victim or witness in a crime is a separate offense that should be addressed right away. 

What should I do if I change my mind about prosecuting a suspect in my case? 

If nobody has been charged, then you can contact the assigned Detective, or, if the Detective is unavailable, a Patrol Officer, to sign a non-prosecution affidavit. If someone has been charged, then you will have to contact the State Attorneys Office at 407-742-5200. 

Nobody was arrested, but the Detective said an A.P.S. was filed. What does that mean? 

An A.P.S. is an Affidavit of Prosecution Summary. The details of the case are summarized and sent to the State Attorney’s Office, where a decision will be made whether or not the case is suitable for prosecution. You will be contacted by a representative of the State Attorney’s Office to let you know the decision, however it could take a while. 

I received a letter telling me that my case is Suspended. What does that mean? 

If your case was not resolved, and there is no further information that could solve it in a reasonable time period, then the case will be put in a Suspended Status. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the investigation is done, but it does mean that until additional evidence or information is received it will be held in the Records section. 

What should I do if I’m unhappy with the way my case was handled by a Detective? 

You are always welcome to contact the Criminal Investigations Unit supervisor at 407-891-6752 to talk about your case. We are committed to serving the community to the best of our ability. 

Budget
 
What types of vehicles are purchased by the police department? 

The St. Cloud Police Department has a wide range of police vehicle, they include the following: Ford Crown Victoria with police package, Chevrolet Impala, Ford F150 Trucks, Ford Explorer, and Harley Davidson Motorcycles. 

Are patrol vehicles equipment with laptops? 

Yes, all patrol vehicles are equipment with state of the art laptops. The St. Cloud Police Department currently utilizes Dell and Gateway laptops. 

Are patrol vehicles outfitted with video cameras? 

Yes, most of the St. Cloud Police Department patrol vehicles are outfitted with video/audio digital cameras. 

Training

What type of weapons does each officer carry on duty? 

Each officer is issued the .45 caliber semi automatic Glock 21 pistol. Additionally, officers are issued and trained with AR - 15 rifles, less-lethal shotgun, ASP baton and O/C Spray. Officers also carried state of the art Taser with attached video and audio system. 

What type of training does each officer receive? 

Each officer receives training in areas mandated by the state and federal government. Additionally, the department has a training budget for outside training for specific areas of education and training. Officers also conduct legal law updates and roll call training to cover most current laws and procedures. 

Where do the St. Cloud Police Officers qualify with their weapons? 

The St. Cloud Police Department’s firing range was closed down because it was to close in proximity to residential development and school. The officers now use the Kissimmee Police Department Firing Range. 

Recruiting

Does the Department provide take home vehicles for Officers? 

Yes, officers are provided with take home vehicles. Officers may take their assigned patrol vehicles home up to 40 miles outside the city limits. A mileage fee is accessed when residing outside the city limits. 

How long do I have to wait to put in for specialty positions, such as School Resource Officer, Detective, Drug Agent, Tactical Entry Team, Motor Unit, etc?
 
Usually most positions require that a police officer be employed for 18 months. A police officer is selected by an evaluation of their knowledge, experience and oral board recommendation. 

What equipment will I be issued, and what will I have to purchase on my own? 

All equipment will be issued to you including handgun, Taser, handcuffs, ASP baton, O/C spray, flashlight, duty belt, AR-15, less lethal shotgun, uniforms, body armor, boots and all other necessary equipment. 

Will the Department sponsor me through the Police Academy? 

No. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement website lists all accredited Police Academies in Florida. Academy representatives are able to assist you with any questions pertaining to attendance requirements. 

How can I apply? 

You can apply by picking up an application at City Hall, located at 1300 9th Street, St. Cloud, or by visiting the City’s website at www.stcloud.org. 

Community Outreach

When do you conduct “Crime Prevention” meetings?
 
The St. Cloud Police Department hosts a monthly “Crime Prevention” meeting on the first Monday of each month. These meetings are held inside the police department’s community room at 7pm. 

How long do the “Crime Prevention” meetings last?
 
The meetings last about one (1) hour. Each month we have someone who presents a topic that is informative to the community. This year we presented classes on Hurricane Preparedness, Gun Safety, Identity Theft, Gangs, and Meth Awareness Class. We also had demonstrations put on by our K-9 unit and our Tactical Entry Team. 

How do I register my bicycle with the police department?
 
Simply contact the Community Outreach Officer to schedule an appointment to bring your bicycle to be registered. If you are unable to get to the police department we will schedule an Officer to visit your residence to complete the registration. 

How can I request a speaker for my function, or school events? 

Simply contact the Community Outreach Officer. 

Does the St. Cloud Police Department do security checks for businesses, and residences?
 
Yes, contact the Community Outreach Officer to schedule an appointment to conduct a security check. 

Does the St. Cloud Police Department have a “Volunteer Program”?
 
Yes, we do. The Volunteer Program consists mostly of senior citizens who volunteer at the police department substation located at 923 New York Avenue in the St. Cloud Downtown District. Some of their duties include fingerprinting, answering questions for the public, participating at local events hosted by the police department, etc. 

How do we start a “Neighborhood Watch” program in our subdivision? 

Contact the Community Outreach Officer. 

I own a gun and I don't have a safe to keep it in, does the St. Cloud Police Department sell gun locks?
 
No, St. Cloud Police Department does not sell gun locks. However, we do provide gun locks FREE of charge to citizens of St. Cloud. You can pick your FREE gun lock at the Substation located at 923 New York Avenue, (open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm) or at the St. Cloud Police Department by contacting the Community Outreach Officer (Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00pm). 

Does the St. Cloud Police Department provide bicycle helmets for the children? 

Yes, we do. However, supplies are limited so please call the Community Outreach Officer ahead of time to ensure helmets are available. Helmets are limited to families in need. 

Does the St. Cloud Police Department have a “Citizen Police Academy” open to the public? 

Yes, we do. The department holds a Citizen’s Police Academy at least once a year, usually during the winter months. Space is limited to 20 students per academy class. For more information contact the Community Outreach Officer at. 

Professional Standards

What department policies are considered areas of high liability? 

All department policies are considered vital to our day-to-day operations; however, the following is a list of policies which are considered to be areas of high liability: Use of Force, Pursuit, Contraband Forfeiture Act, Property Evidence, Dealing with Mentally Ill Individuals, Sexual Harassment/ Discrimination, Hiring/Selection Process, Prisoner/Non-Prisoner Transport, Special Operations, Search, Domestic Violence, off Duty Conduct, and Internal Affairs. 

How does the department ensure polices are up-to-date? 

Department policies and procedures are updated yearly to ensure they are in compliance with state law, accreditation standards (Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, commonly referred as C.F.A.), department needs in order to maintains a high level of professionalism within the department. 

Records


What are the hours of operation for the Records Unit? 

Records is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. excluding holidays. 

How do I obtain a copy of a police report/traffic crash report?
 
You may call, write or stop by the police department and request a copy of a police report/traffic crash report. The charge for any report over 19 pages is 15 cents for a single sided copy and 20 cents for a double sided copy. Starting August 1, 2011, traffic crash reports will also be available through the 
Docview LLC website.

Can I get a background check on a person? 

Yes. Records can conduct a computer search on an individual for any arrests within the city limits of St. Cloud. Only information that is public record per Florida State Statute 119 will be released. The fee for this service is $10.00 per search. An alternative is a criminal history check performed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) that contains all criminal history information for the state of Florida. To obtain additional information on FDLE criminal history information, please check the FDLE website at www.fdle.state.fl.us or call (850) 410-7963. 

What is the procedure for getting a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) verified on a vehicle? 

A VIN verification can be done two ways: If you have the vehicle, come to the Police Department, pay a $5.00 fee, and an Officer will verify the VIN. If the vehicle cannot be brought to the Department but is located in the city limits, come to the Department, pay a $5.00 fee and an Officer will be sent to where the vehicle is. 

Communications

Should I dial 911 if I have a non-emergency situation? 

For non-emergency situations such as noisy neighbors or incidents that are delayed, use the non-emergency telephone number (407) 891-6700.

Don’t tell the Communications operator that a situation is more serious than it really is. It is against the law to intentionally and knowingly give false information to the police or emergency services. Abuse of the 911 system may delay someone else's access to emergency services. 


If I call 9-1-1, what will they ask me? 

The Communications operator will ask three main questions:

What is the location of the emergency?

This is the address where the emergency is actually happening. If you don't know the actual address, tell the dispatcher, and then: 

  • Give cross streets or a "hundred block."
  • Provide landmarks, business names or parks near the emergency.
  • Look at the house numbers in the area.
  • If you are calling from inside a home or business, look on a piece of mail or magazine/catalog.

What is the phone number you're calling from?

This is the number to the phone you're actually calling from. We need this in case we have to call you back. We will also ask your name, however providing that information is optional.

What is the emergency?

Tell us exactly what happened. Be as concise as possible. Tell us what the problem is now, not what led up to the problem.

  • "I see a fight on the corner of 6th and Main."
  • "I am fighting with my husband."
  • "There is a car accident westbound on I-68 at the Downtown off-ramp."


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