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2020 annual report

Table of Contents


sheriff's message

Dear Seminole County residents and supporters,

I am pleased to present to you the 2020 annual report of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO). Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the men and women of the SCSO and with the continued support of our citizens, I’m proud to share that the crime rate in Seminole County is the lowest it has been in the 108-year history. For the fourth year in a row, the most serious crimes that affect our quality of life dropped 24.4% in unincorporated Seminole County.

There is no doubt 2020 was a year filled with unexpected challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much in our community; however, one thing remains the same at the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, and that is our promise to connect with citizens and continue to provide the services and support that our community has come to expect. Rather than canceling events, we found ways for the Sheriff’s Office to safely hold our annual Christmas Village, Shop with the Sheriff, and Halloween Safety Spooktacular outreach initiatives.

Combatting the ongoing opioid epidemic has been one of our strategic priorities, and the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office has worked tirelessly to find commonsense solutions to the growing opioid epidemic in our county, across our state, and across the nation. While overdoses were on the rise again in 2020 due to COVID-19, we sought new initiatives to combat the ongoing opioid epidemic, including recovery programs inside the John E. Polk Correctional Facility and the concept for the AdventHealth Hope and Healing Center - a Level II residential treatment facility and an Intensive Outpatient Program for individuals with substance use disorder.

As I begin my second term as your Sheriff, I want to assure you that my top priority is to work with you to enhance the quality of life of our citizens by reducing crime and the fear of crime throughout Seminole County. We will continue to address crime as a symptom of another problem, and we will focus on mental health and those suffering from substance use disorder. Through these priorities, we will also continue to improve our agency and the well-being of the citizens we have the honor to serve. I am grateful for the trust and support of our citizens, and I look forward to continuing to serve our Seminole County community.

Sincerely,

Sheriff Dennis M. Lemma

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milestones

Sheriff Lemma Re-elected for second term

On November 3rd, Sheriff Dennis Lemma won the 2020 election, continuing to serve for a second term as Seminole County Sheriff. Sheriff Lemma’s first term started in January 2017, after Sheriff Don Eslinger, who served in the role for 26 years, retired. Sheriff Lemma is the 10th Sheriff in the 108-year history of Seminole County and has served with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office for nearly 29 years.

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Sheriff Lemma appointed to Executive Board of MCSA

We are pleased to announce that in June 2020, Sheriff Dennis Lemma was appointed the newest member of the Major County Sheriffs of America Executive Board. The Major County Sheriffs of America is a professional law enforcement association of the largest elected Sheriffs' offices dedicated to preserving the highest integrity in law enforcement. In this new role, Sheriff Lemma is representing Region 4, which includes all the Eastern states, and among other things, be a conduit to and from the Sheriffs of each region.

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community outreach

Halloween Spooktacular becomes a drive-thru experience

The 3rd Annual Halloween Safety Spooktacular sponsored by The Hartford, was held in October. This year the event was drive-thru style to make it safe for all families to participate. Sheriff Dennis Lemma and our entire Sheriff’s Office team handed out over 1,800 pounds of candy to more than 700 carloads of residents. It was the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office first drive-through edition of the Halloween Safety Spooktacular, and it was an overwhelming success.

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Chaplain Corps help Rescue Outreach Mission by assisting with mask sales

Sheriff Lemma and members of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office presented Rescue Outreach Mission with a generous donation raised by the Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Corps through the sale of #WeAreSCSO face masks to members of our agency. Rescue Outreach Mission was founded in 1986 by the late local pastor Mother Blanche Bell Weaver. The Mission focuses on helping men and women return to self-sufficiency by providing transitional housing and case management. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit provides shelter and food for those in need in our community. This donation will allow their organization to continue to offer vital services to underserved members of our community.

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Christmas Village makes holidays brighter for families in need

Christmas Village 2020 was very different from previous years, and the need for assistance was even greater. Through the generosity of the community who held toy drives, personally gave gifts, and provided financial support, as well as our amazing sponsors, we were able to hold our 19th Annual “Christmas Village” hosted by our Child Protective Services Division (CPS) for two weeks in December. To abide by the safety guidelines, members of CPS sent invitations to eligible families and provided a day and time for the parents/guardians to participate, and only allowing a few individuals in the toy store at a time.

The mission of Christmas Village is to help provide a brighter holiday for children in foster care as well as those who have faced abuse or neglect. Thanks to our presenting sponsor at The Hartford and our Seminole County residences and business partners who gave generously and with a caring heart, we provided gifts for over 100 families and over 300 children.

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Greeting cards delivered to assisted living residents

During such a challenging year, it was important for us to stay involved with the senior community and let them know we are still here for them. In September members of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention Unit delivered over 2,400 greeting cards to the front desk of 26 assisted living facilities across the county, and in December they made another delivery of over 4,000 cards to 68 facilities.

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agency welcomes 2 new k9's

Cersei

In June, we introduced our newest K-9 member of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. Two-year-old golden retriever Cercei is a single-purpose narcotics detection dog, who enjoys playing in her backyard when she is not working. She and her handler are assigned to our City County Investigative Bureau (CCIB), which is a multi-agency task force that investigates vice, narcotics, and organized crime.

Sadie

On Valentine’s Day, we were pleased to introduce one of our newest Comfort K-9s. Sadie is a 3-year-old Boxer and English Pointer mix who loves to snuggle and give kisses to her handler, Victim Advocate Serena Pearson. She assists Serena on call-outs by providing comfort to victims and their families.

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school safety

SRDs help kids adjust to return to school

Our School Safety Division was excited to return to school in the fall and reconnect with students and staff. Although COVID-19 made for a challenging and complex start to the school year as parents had to navigate the difficult decision between having their children return to the classroom or continue remote learning, it did not change our global mission to ensure safe campuses and foster positive relationships with students.

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Resources from DCF provided to families and educators

After students transitioned to virtual learning in April, Sheriff Lemma reminded citizens of the critical role teachers and education staff play in detecting and reporting child abuse and neglect. He urged everyone in the community to be vigilant and report any suspicions or knowledge of abuse or neglect. The SCSO also provided resources from the Florida Department of Children and Families to help parents, caregivers, and educators keep children safe during COVID-19. These resources provided information on assisting children in coping and managing stress and tips on how to talk to them should they have questions regarding the pandemic.

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Drug-Free Red Ribbon Art Contest

Each year, the last week in October is recognized as Red Ribbon Week – a campaign designed to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities. During that time, all 5th through 8th-grade Seminole County students were invited to create posters illustrating the importance of healthy, drug-free living. This year, 23 participating schools submitted 113 posters, and our panel of judges anonymously selected the winners. We were pleased to recognize a grand prize winner and the top three posters for each grade category in a virtual awards ceremony held in February. Numerous prizes were given out, and the grand-prize winner's artwork is now proudly displayed on one of our School Safety Division patrol vehicles.



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commemorations

Standing Watch for the Fallen memorial ceremony

In 2019, Seminole County Law Enforcement agencies came together to hold the first annual combined memorial to recognize heroes lost in the line of duty. Due to the unprecedented circumstances, the 2020 Seminole County Law Enforcement Memorial event was not able to occur in the same way. However, we knew that we still had a responsibility to honor our fallen and pay tribute to their lives. In May, we held our first “Facebook Live” Standing Watch for the Fallen. Honor Guard members from the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, Florida Highway Patrol, and Altamonte Springs, Oviedo, Windermere, Longwood, and Lake Mary Police Departments performed the Standing Watch ceremony in front of the Law Enforcement Heroes Memorial statue, which was adorned in bright blue lights.

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100th anniversary of womens equality

On August 26, Sheriff Dennis Lemma was honored to speak at a Seminole County Sheriff's Office Women's Equality Day event celebrating National Women's Suffrage Month and the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment, which forever protects women's right to vote. The event commemorated the achievements of these groundbreaking efforts and celebrated the remarkable accomplishments of American women.

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"Our VI Heroes" doumentary honors the memory and sacrifice of fallen deputies

Members of our Public Affairs Division produced a 30-minute documentary titled Our Six Heroes – a two-year project that highlights the lives and sacrifices of the six deputies from the agency who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. The video played a significant role in honoring our fallen since the traditional annual Memorial Ceremony was canceled due to Covid-19. Our Six Heroes debuted in May during National Police Week.



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National Corrections Officers Week saultes JEPCF staff

To celebrate National Correctional Officer week in May, we gave a shout-out to all our professionals working to make our correctional facilities safe and secure. We salute them and recognize that their jobs have never been more challenging as they work to protect inmates and staff from COVID-19.

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recognitions

Seminole County Public Schools light up stadiums to honor Class of 2020

On April 20th, 8:20 p.m. (that’s 20:20 military time), Seminole County Public Schools lit up all of their high school stadiums as a special tribute to the Class of 2020. Our Alert helicopter team was high above to provide a bird’s eye view that we shared to honor students who graduated in 2020.

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"Heroes thanking heroes" parade paid tribute to frontline workers

The Seminole County Sheriff's Office was honored to take part in the “Heroes Thanking Heroes” parade in April, as agencies from across Seminole County paid tribute to our healthcare workers at our area hospitals. We are incredibly grateful to our frontline healthcare workers during these difficult times.

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National Forensics Week highlights teamwork

During National Forensics Week in September, we highlighted our forensics and digital forensics team with a short video tribute. The Forensic Division serves our community by finding crucial answers through science and is often the lifeblood of many investigations, the key to solving crimes. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office forensics experts stand ready to respond to crime scenes to begin the critical task of gathering scientific evidence.



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corrections

Inmates cope with COVID crisis through artistic expression

Inmates at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility used their artistic abilities to cope with the COVID crisis. They stayed busy during the holiday season by creating festive posters. The inmates said sketching helped pass the time and took their minds off missing their loved ones while also working on their drawing skills.

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Inmates make masks for National Corrections Officers & Employees Week

Our John E. Polk Correctional Facility inmates used material generously donated from the community to produce masks for staff and other inmates for use while they were inside the facility. The inmates were also able to take the masks with them for use upon their release.

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Inmates make "joey pouches" for orphaned kangaroos affected by the fires in Australia

At the end 2019, Australia faced a devastating start to its fire season. Things swiftly got worse before the rains helped contain many of the worst fires. Hundreds of thousands of animals and other wildlife were lost or injured. An overwhelming number of orphaned joeys, aka baby kangaroos, had to be sent to rescues. In January, our O-Pod inmates at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility started making "joey pouches" for these baby kangaroos. Joeys spend nine months in their mother's pouches which are essential to their development. Some pouches even had a strap attached for rescue workers to wear while carrying the baby kangaroos.

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collaborations

SNAP program helps children navigate life challenges

During the challenging times of COVID-19, SCSO Youth Services staff traveled to houses of recent graduates of the SNAP (Stop Now And Plan) program, to honor their accomplishments. SCSO offers the innovative program to help children deal with issues at home like divorce, substance abuse, or bullying which can cause a child to act out in inappropriate ways. SNAP helps kids and parents deal with those triggers, and head off negative consequences before they ever happen.

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Drive-thru book exchange provides books for students learning from home

In normal times, the Early Learning Coalition of Seminole (ELC) held a Books and Badges event in which law enforcement officers would visit schools, read to students, and then provide them with books to take home. With most children learning from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was essential to continue providing these services. In September, members of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office participated in a Drive-Thru Book Exchange with the ELC. The event allowed families to stay inside their cars while receiving five books for each child, along with safety pamphlets and additional children’s material supplied by the SCSO.

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Faith & Blue event forges partnerships between law enforcement and communities

Sheriff Dennis Lemma and Seminole County Sheriff’s Office members participated in the Nationwide “Faith & Blue” event in October. “Faith & Blue” is a collaborative initiative that builds bridges and breaks down biases through activities and outreach amongst law enforcement professionals and the communities they serve. The Sheriff’s Office was joined by our Faith-Based partners who led the event by providing individual prayers for First Responders and compassion, unity, understanding, peace, tolerance, and faith.

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SCSO assisted partners at drive-thru COVID testing sites

In April, we were proud to assist our partners at TrueHealth FL and the Seminole County Government to keep drive-up traffic flowing smoothly at various COVID testing sites. We salute the dedicated medical professionals who were and continue to make a difference.

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annual statistics

Agency-Wide


2020 crime rate graph
Seminole County Crime Rate (Unincorporated)
35 year crime decrease: -78%
20 year crime decrease: -63%
20 year population increase: +26%

2020
226,717 Population
1,010 Crimes
24.4% Drop in Part 1 Index Crimes
$1,552,412 Stolen Property Recovered
4,057 Arrests

2015
213,465 Population
1,735 Crimes

2005
203,021 Population
2,153 Crimes

1995
162,332 Population
3,355 Crimes

1985
120,032 Population
4,506 Crimes




Department Specific

Aviation Section
  • 1,379 Respones to calls for service
  • 190 Traffic stops
  • 158 Arrest assists
  • 63 Bambi bucket rescues
  • 63 Alert crew initiated
  • 48 Lost or missing persons found
  • 28 Stolen vehicles secured
  • 17 Foot pursuits
  • 5 Vehicle pursuits


City County Investigative Bureau Seizures
  • $87,742 in currency
  • 325 lbs marijuana
  • 87 interdicted parcels
  • 42 lbs THC Resin
  • 35 executed search warrants
  • 30 lbs THC/liquid/wax/oil-extract/butter
  • 26 lbs THC edibles
  • 14 firearms
  • 4 vehicles


Civil Section
  • 25,354 Subpoenas
  • 3,848 Criminal Summons
  • 2,391 Injunctions for Protection
  • 785 Writs of Posession
  • 341 Ex-Parte Orders
  • 71 Risk Protection Orders
  • 10 Writs of Replevin
  • 7 Writs of Execution


Communications Center
  • 847,295 Total calls for service from citizens & field units
  • 179,383 Calls to 911


Corrections
  • 8,021 Inmates booked
  • 725 Average daily population


Digital Forensics Evidentiary Data
  • 742 Total Devices
  • 378 Total Cases


Domestic Security
  • 2,636 Arrest warrants served


Financial Crimes
  • 461 Information cases
  • 336 Identity Theft
  • 155 Credit Card Fraud
  • 108 Counterfeit checks & currency


Forensics
  • 9,729 Items of evidence & property receievd
  • 1,362 Latent print evaluations
  • 430 Latent print processing cases
  • 224 Crime scenes processed
  • 120 NIBIN entry cases received
  • 26 DNA biological screening exams
  • 16 Testified in court
  • 5 Pieces of impression evidence examined


Inmate Education
  • 5,756 educational hours
  • 2,968 Chaplain hours
  • 1,298 inmates participating in services & classes
  • 637 worship services & bible classes
  • 456 counseling session hours
  • 144 inmates counseled


Inmate Healthcare Services
  • 11,201 Nurse Sick Calls
  • 8,191 Intake Medical/Mental Health Screenings
  • 7,346 Physician Encounters
  • 7,766 Psychiatric & Mental Health Assessments
  • 3,188 History & Physical Assessments
  • 36 Baker Acts to the Crisis Stabilization unit


Judicial
  • 200,653 Visitors to the courthouses
  • 211,710 Items scanned at the courthouses
  • 5,971 Visitors to the Public Safety Building
  • 665 Prohibited items intercepted by deputies
  • 201 Items confiscated


K9
  • 69 Deployments
  • 52 Patrol deployments
  • 21 Apprehended without bites
  • 17 Detection deployments
  • 13 Respones to requests for assistance
  • 0 Apprehended with bites


Training
  • 91,257 Hours of training delivered to employees & agency volunteers


Victim Advocates
  • 8,477 Victims & families assisted


Volunteers
  • 20,005 Hours of Service



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connect with us

Request House Watch

Going out of town? The House Watch program adds an extra layer of security to your home while you’re away. At your request, deputies will check on your home, driving by to look for anything that might be unusual, and will walk around the property to ensure it is secured. Before you leave on your trip, contact us at 407-665-6650 to request the service.

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Safeguard your home

Want to reduce your risk of a break in? SCSO’s certified crime prevention practitioners can visit your home and provide you with recommendations on how to better protect your residence. Our free, 45-minute home security assessments involve a review of entry and exit points, locks, lights, and landscaping.

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Secure your business

Modeled after Neighborhood Watch, Business Watch takes the “neighbors looking out for neighbors” concept to the commercial level, creating a partnership among businesses, law enforcement and others that represent business interests. Each business is provided with a Sheriff’s Office decal that warns criminals that the business is part of an active watch community, and is used to contact business owners in case of an after-hours emergency. SCSO also provides free on-site security assessments, safety training for employees and site-specific safety tips on how to reduce the risk of robbery or burglary.

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Sign up for S.T.A.R.

In 2018, SCSO launched the Safety Tactics and Awareness Response program, a women’s self-defense initiative that was designed from the ground up by SCSO deputies. The class is offered free of charge once a month and focuses on teaching women in Seminole County how they can defend themselves against an aggressor. Since the new program began, we have served over 3,000 participants and established many long-term community partnerships.

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Join our Community Law Enforcement Academy (CLEA)

Get a firsthand look at the operations of the Sheriff’s Office through our exciting 15-week educational academy. Taught by Sheriff’s Office personnel, the academy is offered three times per year and includes presentations on topics such as neighborhood policing, investigations, child protective services, and forensics. Class participants also see demonstrations from the Special Operations Unit (SWAT, Range and Water, K9, and EOD), have the opportunity to fire Sheriff’s Office weapons at the gun range, and drive a patrol car. The academy classes are held once a week in the evening and are offered at no cost to participants.

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SCSO celebrates a social media milestone

We were pleased to celebrate a 10-year milestone on social media this year. In October 2010, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office opened our Facebook account as a way to connect with our community. Throughout the years, our followers shared some of our happiest and saddest moments, and they have shown an outpouring of support, shared stories, and even helped us solve crimes and bring lost or missing loved ones home.

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Follow us on Nextdoor

Nextdoor.com allows neighbors the opportunity to create a trusted, private neighborhood website where they can interact by asking questions, exchanging local advice, making recommendations, and discussing their community concerns. The Sheriff’s Office often uses Nextdoor to update residents about crime trends in their neighborhoods, and share information on events and programs. Learn more and register at www.nextdoor.com.

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Seminole County Sheriff's Office
100 Eslinger Way
Sanford, Florida 32773
Phone: (407) 665-6600