Investigations Division

 

Property Crime Unit:  Includes the offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. The object of the theft-type offenses is the taking of money or property, but there is no force or threat of force against the victims. The property crime category includes arson because the offense involves the destruction of property; however, arson victims may be subjected to force.

Sex Offender Unit: There are approximately 96 sexual offenders / predators in Okeechobee County which have to be monitored by the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office. The Sexual Offender Unit is tasked with this by Monitoring and registering sexual offenders and predators quarterly, semi annually and annually according to their level or status of registration. This also includes Career Criminals who are released from prison and returned back into the community. Files must be maintained on all offenders and predators and information on their movement within our county is released through the public Information officer when obtained.

Crime Scene Technician / Evidence Technician: The Crime Scene Technician specializes in a broad array of generalized photographic and forensic applications. They must efficiently locate, document, and collect anything of evidentiary value during the course of an investigation; to include but not limited to latent prints, hairs, fibers, blood and any other trace evidence. Once these items are collected, the Evidence Technician must maintain the integrity and confidentiality of evidence, investigations and operations. To properly store and document anything of possible evidentiary value to include but not limited to computer and other electronic equipment, latent prints, hairs, fibers, blood, and other trace evidence. The technician is responsible for transporting evidence to and from crime laboratories when needed, and also properly secure, store, document, return, retain, transport, and destroy items of evidence, found property, or safekeeping.

Narcotics Unit: Is responsible for enforcing the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and the State of Florida. We work very closely with our local, state and federal partners to aggressively investigate
those organizations and their members involved in the growth, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances. We also recommend and support non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances. Those of us in public safety realize each day brings new challenges; however, the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office is committed to working with our elected officials, community leaders, and the citizens of this great community to ensure that Okeechobee County remains a safe environment in which to live, work, and raise our families.

 

 publicinfo

 

 

mbellGreetings,

I am Michele Bell, Public Information Officer for the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office. It is the policy of the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office to disseminate public records in a timely manner when requested. It is our goal to do this in compliance with the Florida Sunshine Law as it pertains to public records (more on that later).

Public information in the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office is divided into two departments, Records Clerk Department and the Media Relations Department (Public Information Officer). The Records Clerk Department is headed by Janice Brough, records clerk as assigned under the Administrative Division. Ms. Brough is the "go to person" when requesting copies of any documents originated, handled and stored at the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office. As per policy, any requests for documents will go through her, or her designee, and reviewed for release.

Under the Florida Sunshine Law, there are many items of information that are not to be released to the general public and Ms. Brough will scan the requested documents and determine if the document, or parts of the document, are to be withheld (redacted) from public view as required by law. In addition, Florida law allows a fee for any requests for public records. The Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office charges 15 cents per page plus an hourly rate of $15 an hour for lengthy researched requests. All fees will be paid prior to receiving the requested information. It should be noted that the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office, as a courtesy, will provide individual reports (investigations and arrest affidavits), free of charge, to persons involved in the report.

The Media Relations Department is headed by me, Michele Bell, Public Information Officer as assigned under the Criminal Investigations Division (CID). I am also assisted by Detective Bryan Lowe (He graciously fills my vacancy when I am out of the office). My job is to inform the public of important information and events through my relationship with the media. I provide to the media important arrests, events, crime prevention tips, and any public information request made by the media. It is my goal to keep the citizenry well informed about current events, involving the Sheriff's Office, in our community.

Records clerk and Media Relations hours and on-call policy: The records clerk is assigned to work normal business, workdays, Monday through Friday 8 to 4 PM and is not subject to on call or overtime requests. Any emergency request for documents should be forwarded to the on duty road patrol lieutenant. Generally speaking as the Public information Officer, I work Monday through Friday 8 to 5 PM but I am subject to call out for any great public emergency. Should the media have an immediate need for information at any time other than normal work hours or emergency, they should call the Sheriff's Office and ask to speak with the on duty road patrol lieutenant. If the information need is not an emergency, I ask that the request be submitted during normal business hours.

 

The Florida Sunshine Law and its exceptions


The Florida Sunshine Law is a very liberal public information law. Basically, all records maintained by a governmental agency are public records subject to release upon request. However, there are many exceptions when involving law enforcement. The following is a list of items exempt from public record release.

  • Active criminal investigation reports and evidence
  • Intelligence information
  • Surveillance methods
  • Some investigative procedures
  • Some victim information
  • Autopsy records
  • Confessions
  • Confidential informants
  • Criminal histories
  • Some domestic violence information
  • 911 calls
  • Some juvenile offender records
  • Inmate records
  • Medical records

It is our hope and desire to serve the community by keeping the citizens more informed. Our hope is that this information will better help the public fulfill their information needs.

Sincerely,
Michele Bell

Contact Information


Media Relations:

Michele Bell, Public Information Officer
Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office CID
504 NW 4th Street
Okeechobee, Florida 34972
mbell@okeesheriff.org
(863) 763- 3117

 

Records Clerk:

Janice Brough, Records Clerk
Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office
504 NW 4th Street
Okeechobee, Florida 34972
jbrough@okeesheriff.org
(863) 763- 3117


Detective Bryan Lowe
Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office CID
504 NW 4th Street
Okeechobee, Florida 34972
bryanlowe@okeesheriff.org
(863) 763- 3117