Captain Dennis Leonard - Section Commander
The Orange County Sheriff's Office Major Case is home for many of the agency's key investigative units. Detectives assigned to the section work some of the most diffiult cases that come to the agency. Many of the cases they consider as "just part of their jobs" are often the lead story in the morning newspaper or on an evening newscast.
Their dedication and commitment to the task at hand is evident in their clearance rates and the number of hardcore criminals that now look at life through the window of a jail cell as a result of the work the men and women assigned to this section do.
Orange County Homicide detectives investigate not only investigate homicides, but many other types of death investigations as well, such as suicides and accidental deaths. Detectives assigned to the squad investigate hundreds of deaths per year. The men and women assigned to the Homicide Squad are dedicated professionals who continually strive to solve current cases as well as homicides which are considered cold cases. The Homicide Squad posted an impressive clearance rate of 77.5% for the year 2012. This clearance rate is well above the national average.
Detectives assigned to the Persons Squad are tasked with investigating crimes against a person that do not result in a death. These incidents run the gamut from verbal threats to do harm to complex bomb and shooting investigations.
Sexual Offender Surveillance (SOS) Squad
The Sexual Offender Surveillance Squad currently consists of a Sergeant, Corporal, four Detectives, one Investigative Analyst and one Investigative Service Officer. The Squad is tasked with the management of 1,989 designated Sexual Offenders and Sexual Predators living in Orange County and investigates any violations of their statutory requirements. The squad regularly works with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the United States Marshal's Service to identify and apprehend absconders from Florida as well as those from other states attempting to relocate here undetected.
In 2010, the squad was assigned to proactively investigate Internet Crimes Against Children as well. To date two significant week long internet crimes against children operations have been conducted as well as on-going daily investigations of this type.
The Sexual Offender Surveillance Squad maintains strong working relationships with neighboring jurisdictions through its participation in the Central Florida Sexual Offender Task Force, the Child Abduction Response Team and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Domestic Violence/Child Abuse Squad
Intimate Partner Violence remains an epidemic which affects families on a daily basis. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office Domestic Violence/Child Abuse Unit is tasked with investigating family violence in a swift and assertive manner, as immediate intervention is often necessary to protect victim’s, which often include children. Currently, Investigators utilize their specialized expertise and training, with the specific responsibility of protecting victims from violence which all too often goes unmentioned and unnoticed within our society. This unit conducts significant investigations which result in the arrests of offenders who perpetrate violence against both adult and child family members.
Understanding that 30%-60% of intimate partner violent offenders also abuse their children, the connective link between familial violence and child abuse is strong. The Domestic Violence/Child Abuse unit is charged with breaking the cycle of violence which can cross generations, races, and socio-economic boundaries. Ending the revolving door of violence is required as nearly 1 in 4 women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime, and children who witness or experience violence within the home are dramatically more likely to either abuse or except abuse as they grow into adults. This Unit swiftly investigates these incidents in a cooperative manner with other state agencies, our justice system, and victim advocate centers to not only arrest, but to provide a tailor made solution to end violence in the home.
The squad also shares the agency’s responsibility for investigation into missing persons cases. The role of the squad has grown significantly and it has taken on an active investigative role in a number of the agency’s major and high profile cases. The squad conducts complex investigations into missing persons cases which unfortunately often lead to the discovery of major crimes to include kidnapping and Homicide. The squad is comprised of sworn detectives, crime analysts and investigative service officers.
Sex Crimes Squad
The Orange County Sheriff's Office Sex Crimes Squad has earned a solid reputation for agressively pursuing and having great success in closing some of the county's most heinous crimes. Like many of their counterparts detectives assigned to the Sex Crimes Squad take great pride in the fact that they take the worst of the worst offenders off the streets.
In 2012, the Evidence Unit received and processed 59,135 items of property and evidence submitted for storage. The Unit’s Disposal Squad successfully purged 41,661 items from the Evidence Facility. In addition, the Evidence Unit returned 4,457 property items to their rightful owners.
During 2012, the Evidence Unit conducted two firearms disposal projects that resulted in purging 1,066 seized firearms. The Unit also conducted five drug disposal projects that resulted in 14,564 exhibits of elicit narcotics, weighing thousands of pounds, being destroyed. The Unit processed and transported 5,668 cases to the Florida Department Law Enforcement Crime Lab for analyses and 1,470 cases to the Orange County Sheriff's Crime Scene Unit for processing. In 2012, Evidence Technicians responded to 238 calls for service. These service calls provided assistance to deputies with the collection and transportation of evidence and found property from incident scenes.
The Evidence Unit has a very active conversion and donation program. During 2012, the Unit supplied many departments of the Sheriff’s Office and Orange County with $22,236.00 of usable assets, defraying the cost of purchase of such items to the Orange County taxpayers. Along with donations of property to the Children’s Safety Village and other charitable organizations, the efforts of the Evidence Unit gleaning property during the disposal process have greatly benefited the residents of Orange County.
Digital Forensics Unit
The personnel assigned to the Digital Forensics Unit are Certified Forensic Computer Examiners (CFCE) certified through the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS). They also have obtained specialized training and certification in mobile device forensics. The Digital Forensics Unit is tasked with investigating violations of state statutes concerning computer-related offenses and conducting digital forensic examinations on a variety of devices, including computers, cell phones, and GPS devices which have been used to commit or facilitate the commission of a crime. In addition to providing invaluable investigative support to the agency’s investigative efforts, they also provide digital forensic assistance to other local and state agencies.
The Forensics Unit is comprised of Crime Scene Investigators, Image Lab personnel, Forensics Artist, and Firearms Analysts. Though the popularity of Forensics and Crime Scene Investigation has risen in the last decade, these people have been in the business of assisting to solve crimes for much longer. The Forensics Unit is typically the “behind-the-scenes” investigators processing for evidence to assist in investigations, including everything trace evidence, bloodstain pattern reconstruction, trajectory reconstruction, advanced diagramming, and advanced latent processing. It may be just that small piece of evidence located by a member of the Forensics Unit that solves the case.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office Forensics Unit has a wealth of knowledge from its members. We have members that have retired or begun their career in other departments from the Massachusetts State Police, Philadelphia Police Department, Puerto Rico Center of Forensic Science, and Orlando Police Department to name a few. Our members are very well educated in their respective fields with Masters and Bachelor degrees in Forensic Science, Biology, Anthropology and others. We continue to receive specialized training to stay current in technology and practices within the professional Forensics community.
During 2012 the Crime Scene Investigators responded to 1687 calls for service, worked 1680 cases turned in for processing from deputies, provided 807 hours of training and received 892 hours of training. The Firearms Analysts reviewed 505 firearms, test firing 340 of those.