Child Protective Investigations Section: The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is one of six sheriffs’ offices in the State of Florida that investigates reports of child abuse, abandonment and/or neglect. All reports investigated by Child Protective Investigators are first reported to the Florida Abuse Hotline. The statewide hotline, located in Tallahassee, receives reports of alleged abuse, abandonment and/or neglect and routes the calls to the county where the child(ren) are located at the time the report is made. The State’s decision to contract protective investigations with the Pasco Sheriff’s Office allows for the utilization of expertise and experience of the sheriff’s office in an effort to produce the best outcomes for children and families in our communities.
More than 7000 reports are made by concerned community professionals, such as teachers, counselors, therapists, judges, law enforcement, daycare providers and medical professionals each year.
When a report is received, state law requires the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, Child Protective Investigations Division to investigate each report within the county. The purpose of the investigation is to make sure that any child in the home is not experiencing abuse or neglect. Investigations include children between birth and eighteen years of age.
What is the goal of Florida’s Child Protection System?
The goal of Florida’s Child Protection System is to ensure all children are living in homes that are safe from abuse or neglect.
What are the possible results of the investigation?
Some investigations will reveal that there is no indication of child abuse or neglect. In these cases, the investigators will close the case upon completion of the investigation. Some situations require a safety plan or referrals that aim to change the circumstances that endanger the safety and well-being of the child(ren) in the home. Referrals may include community resources such as in-home counseling or therapy, helping victims of domestic violence obtain a protective order against the alleged abuser, linking family to a shelter if the family’s housing is inadequate or in a case of domestic violence. Child Protective Investigators may also refer a family to child care services and governmental programs available in the area. If voluntary services do not alleviate the level of threatened harm to the child(ren) involved in the investigation and efforts are insufficient to safeguard the children, court ordered services may be considered. At times, the child(ren) may remain in their home while court ordered services are in place. If services do not alleviate the presence of imminent danger to the child(ren) then removal may be explored by the Child Protective Investigator, the investigator’s supervisor and the State Attorney. If a child is removed from the home, the CPI and State Attorney presents its case to a dependency judge within 24 hours of removal from the child(ren)’s parents/guardians.
What if someone makes a false report?
There are times when people make false reports to the Florida Abuse Hotline. If the investigator suspects a false report was made, law enforcement will be notified to investigate whether or not the person knowingly and willfully made a false report of child abuse, abandonment or neglect.
Youth Services Section
School Resource Unit: School Resource Officers provide law enforcement education and law-related counseling services to elementary, middle, high and alternative schools in the county. They seek to educate students about the consequences of crime and the benefits of being a law-abiding, responsible citizen. They also seek to develop a rapport with students and parents to make them more supportive of law enforcement in general. The School Resource Unit includes several specialty programs as outlined below.
Pasco Sheriff’s Explorer Post #916: The Explorer Post #916 is chartered by the Boy Scouts of America and is sponsored by the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. Explorers are young adults, ages 14-21, interested in law enforcement as a career. Explorers receive hundreds of hours of classroom and scenario-based training on all aspects of modern law enforcement. They volunteer service in various areas of the Sheriff’s Office, shadow deputies and other members, and provide assistance at many community and agency events. Former Explorers have become some of this agency’s most-effective deputies. The Explorer program is lead by a Senior Advisor but depends upon the help and support of many agency members.
School Crossing Guards (SCGS) and Traffic Control Officers (TCOs): SCGs and TCOs are part-time, civilian members, of the Sheriff’s Office. The SCGs help ensure the safe movement of pedestrians to and from schools at designated locations; TCOs assist by controlling vehicular traffic around some of the more congested school campuses. SCGs and TCOs receive classroom and field training for school crossing procedures, traffic control, first aid, and human diversity.
Officer Friendly Program: The Officer Friendly Program is a nationally recognized, successful strategy, in which a uniformed deputy from the local law enforcement agency is assigned the responsibility of community relations and youth work, in line with the Community Policing philosophy. Officer Friendly is a sworn deputy whose job is to unite residents of designated areas within the county, especially children, with law enforcement and members of the Sheriff’s Office. The confusion created when police officers are portrayed as friends one day and adversaries the next will be minimized by this program.
Youth Diversion: The goal of the Pasco Sheriff’s Office Youth Diversion Program is to support and empower parents by providing positive alternatives to the formal court process and to prevent at-risk youth from entering the juvenile delinquency court system while ensuring that effective consequences deter further criminal behavior.
Pasco Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 916:
We are currently recruiting for anyone between the ages of 14 and 21 who are interested in a career in law enforcement. The program will expose Explorers to the fundamental principles of law enforcement, and teach them the basic operations and procedures law enforcement officers perform each day. Our training includes classroom instruction, scenario reenactments, traffic stops, state statutes, radio procedures, report writing techniques, and much more. We currently have over 30 Explorers in our Post. Click Here to learn more about this program.