The Uniform Operations Bureau mission is assisted by the diverse units comprising the Special Operations Division. The division is responsible for all uniform operations requiring a unique or special law enforcement action in support of other units of the agency. The unique challenges imposed on these units require specialized training and equipment over and above that of a typical law enforcement deputy. Members who are selected to work within the highly specialized disciplines of the Special Operations Division must fulfill and maintain the demands of high hazard training and physical conditioning. While many members of the Special Operation’s division are assigned to their
respective units on a full-time basis, others volunteer their specialized skills to specific units part-time, in addition to meeting the demands of their regularly assigned duties elsewhere within the Sheriff’s Office.
Emergency Management — The lieutenant of the Special Operations Division serves as the Sheriff’s Office Emergency Management Liaison. He works closely with state and local emergency managers in disaster drills, mitigation, and recovery. The Emergency Management Liaison also works with the statewide task force coordinated by the Florida Sheriff’s Association; assists the Bureau Commander to maintain liaison with the Office of Emergency Management regarding specific homeland security initiatives, and provides comprehensive risk and vulnerability
analysis to critical infrastructure throughout Pasco County utilizing the Homeland Security Comprehensive Assessment Model.
The primary responsibility of the Pasco Sheriff’s Office Traffic Enforcement Section is to make the streets of Pasco County safe as possible for its citizens and visitors. This is done by actively enforcing all traffic laws in Pasco County. Enforcement locations are chosen by analyzing crash data to determine areas with the highest crash rates. Using Intelligence Led Policing methods these locations are often found to overlap areas with increased criminal activity that information is also considered when determining enforcement locations. The Traffic Enforcement Section consists of the STEP Unit and the Motor Unit.
The Selective Traffic Enforcement Program Unit (STEP) conducts nighttime traffic enforcement with an emphasis on locating and apprehending impaired drivers. Members of the unit all receive advanced training in the detection and investigation of alcohol/drug related impaired drivers. Several members of the unit have completed the training to become Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). The unit conducts regular saturation patrols and DUI checkpoints in the effort to locate impaired drivers.
The Pasco Sheriff’s Office Motorcycle Unit focuses on daytime traffic enforcement. The motorcycles are more maneuverable and less restrictive, and have lower fuel consumption than a patrol car. Members of the unit have advanced training in motorcycle operations related to law enforcement. This unit is responsible for all aspects of traffic enforcement to include special patrols in problem areas. They regularly participate in dignitary escorts, special events, parades and training with other motor units in the Tampa Bay area. While the main focus of the Traffic Enforcement Section is traffic safety, unit members are encouraged to follow the philosophy of “Looking Beyond the Stop” which enhances their traffic enforcement activities as an effective means to deter and detect criminal behavior of persons who use the roadways while committing other crimes.
The Canine Unit (K-9) is assigned to patrol sectors and assist uniform Operations by responding to routine calls for service when they are not providing search assistance. Canines are trained for area searches, article searches, and evidence recovery, building searches, tracking criminal suspects, locating missing persons, narcotics, and bomb detection. The Pasco Sheriff’s Office Canine Unit consists of seven K-9/handler teams. In 2006, the canines were deployed 764 times including searches for criminal suspects or missing persons, resulting in 162 catches (79 felonies, 42 misdemeanors and 41 others). K-9 teams conducted 68 narcotic searches resulting in 41 finds yielding 33 arrests (23 felonies and 10 misdemeanors). The Canine Unit is also involved in public education, performing 49 demonstrations of canine ability and uses to more than 7,300 Pasco citizens.
The Aviation Unit provides airborne law enforcement support to all components within the Pasco Sheriff’s Office seven days a week. Currently, pro-active air support is being provided to approximately 745 square miles of land, 21 miles of coastline, and 180 square miles of waterways. The Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit is the only law enforcement aircraft based in Pasco County. For this reason, the Aviation Unit is often summoned by other agencies for assistance. Such agencies include the incorporated cities within Pasco County, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, United States Customs, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The helicopter’s speed, agility, and vantage point provide the road deputy with a “force multiplier” making it an invaluable asset. Sheriff’s Office helicopters utilize the Forward Looking Infra-Red system to locate persons who may be concealed by darkness. The Aviation Unit consists of two law enforcement pilots, one Tactical Flight Officer, and one Aviation mechanic, all of whom are supervised by the law enforcement chief pilot. The Aviation Unit is responsible for the acquisition of equipment and parts, and for the maintenance of all fixed wing and rotary aircraft. The Aviation Unit’s duties include proactive patrols, search and recovery missions, surveillance operations, domestic marijuana eradication, traffic enforcement, investigative transportation, and aerial photography for investigation and courtroom presentation.
The Special Weapons and Tactics Team is a group of 21 trained law enforcement deputies with special knowledge in tactics, specialized equipment, and firearms. Members of the SWAT team all have other full-time jobs elsewhere in the agency. Members of SWAT must maintain superior physical conditioning and undergo an extensive amount of annual training. The members are on-call 24 hours a day, every day, to respond to high hazard, emergency and critical incidents requiring specialized firearms and/or tactics. These incidents include hostage situations, barricaded subjects, search warrants, arrest warrants, and dignitary protection details. The SWAT Team responded to 10 callouts in 2006. The callouts ranged from dignitary protection details, and armed, barricaded persons. One deputy assigned to the team is also a state-certified emergency medical technician, capable of providing immediate care to victims, suspects, and agency members. SWAT members are often called upon to present training to other members of the agency. Their expertise of weaponry, self-defense, and specialized tactics provide agency members with superior training in the field. Members also provide demonstrations to community groups and participate in special events such as: The Pasco County Fair, Law Week at Gulfview Mall, and the Pasco County Public Safety Awareness Symposium. The Crisis Management Team (CMT) is a group of deputies with expertise in the area of negotiation and crisis management. The members of CMT work in conjunction with SWAT to communicate with persons in high-risk situations, including barricaded individuals and hostage incidents. CMT members’ duties may include interviewing suspects, victims, and witnesses; acquiring criminal histories; and securing telephone lines for confidential communication with suspects. The CMT members are on call 24 hours a day and are certified law enforcement deputies who perform full time tasks elsewhere within the agency. In 2006, the CMT was activated on seven occasions.
The Pasco Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit patrols 180 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico, from Hammock Creek in Aripeka to the Anclote River in Holiday, which is often busy with recreational and commercial vessels. The Marine Unit also patrols the county waterways and responds to emergencies in three major rivers, numerous navigable inlets and waterfront communities, as well as freshwater lakes within Pasco County.
In addition to boating safety and marine resource violations, the Marine Unit targets criminal activities in the marine environment such as illegal narcotics possession and importation, thefts, waterfront home, vessel and business burglaries, trespassing, illegal dumping, environmental crime and marine pollution incidents.
The Marine Unit maintains a collaborative partnership with many federal, state, and local agencies such as the US Coast Guard, US Customs (ICE & CBP), the US Drug Enforcement Administration, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Pasco Emergency Operations Center, and Pasco County Code Compliance, New Port Richey & Port Richey Police Departments. The Unit is also part of the Regional Domestic Security Task Force/Waterborne Response Team, in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The Marine Unit performs search and rescue, anti-drug smuggling patrols, boating safety education, and marine intelligence gathering. Current staffing in the unit consists of one corporal and one full-time deputy. The unit’s vessel fleet includes a 28-foot Nautica rigid-hull (RHIB), a 24-foot offshore patrol boat, a 19-foot bay boat, and a 16-foot rescue/utility boat with water jet (non-prop) propulsion.
During 2010, deputies of the Marine Unit participated in 186 special details, conducted over 888 area watches, issued 746 citations and warnings, conducted safety inspections on 508 commercial and recreational vessels, participated in 29 Search and Rescue missions and 10 investigative call-outs for service.
Also, as part of the Sheriff’s Office commitment to the promotion of boating safety and education, the Marine Unit conducts numerous boating safety instruction courses, free of charge to boating enthusiasts of all ages in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission/Division of Law Enforcement. Boat members of the Sheriff’s Marine Unit are USCG-licensed boat captains and act as guest instructors for the Pasco Sheriff’s Citizen’s Academy in their specific areas of expertise.
The Underwater Recovery Team (URT) consists of trained divers who assist in underwater crime scene investigations and provide search, rescue and recovery assistance for drowning victims, submerged vehicles, property and evidence recovery. The URT is trained to dive in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the local bodies of water and numerous sinkholes throughout Pasco County. The Pasco Sheriff’s Office URT provides supplementary assistance to the incorporated cities within Pasco County, as well as Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The Underwater Recovery Team coordinates with the Marine Unit for transportation and training. The URT is a part-time voluntary assignment and all 13 members perform other full-time duties elsewhere within the Sheriff’s Office. The URT was called out on 13 occasions in 2006.
Members of the URT are specially trained and certified law enforcement divers. They possess the skills of basic diving and are also certified in the following areas: Advanced Open Water Diving, Cavern Diving, Diving Rescue, Search and Recovery, Underwater Photography, Medical Dive Specialist, and Equipment Specialist.
The Bomb Unit is comprised of a law enforcement deputy and one law enforcement K-9 team. The law enforcement K-9 is a specially trained bomb detection dog. Members of this unit also maintain other full-time responsibilities within the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. Members of the Bomb Unit are part of the Tampa Bay Regional Bomb Squad and respond to calls within Pasco County and throughout the Tampa Bay area as needed. During 2006, the bomb unit responded to seven Pasco incidents involving suspicious devices, homemade bombs, and recovery of ilitary ordnance. The bomb unit deputy also conducted two burns to destroy ammunition confiscated or turned in to the Pasco Sheriff’s Office.
Reserve Deputies – The agency currently consists of 15 Reserve Deputies and 7 Part-Time Deputies. Their duties consist of assisting the agency in a wide variety of functions. The following is an example of functions assisted with in 2011:
1. Uniform Operations, Patrol
2. Mounted Unit
3. Security Patrol/ Neighborhood Watch presentations
4. Training Section
5. Bailiff Duty
7. Christmas Food Baskets
9. Pasco County Fair
Uniform Operations Bureau: Patrol