Briefing Room: a look at the SBPD Detective Division

Logo courtesy of Seal Beach PD

Hi Seal Beach,

Last week Facility Dog Yosa and I helped give a tour of our police station to a local Brownie troop. These girls were thrilled to see inside the PD (and Yosa was thrilled to receive all the attention from the kids)!

A couple of the girls seemed really interested in our Detective Division and what our investigators do to keep Seal Beach safe. I thought I’d take this week’s Briefing Room to write about Seal Beach Police detectives.

The Detective Division is responsible for the investigation and follow-up of all reported crimes occurring in the city of Seal Beach. With a compliment of one Sergeant, four detectives assigned to Seal Beach, and two detectives assigned to task force positions, our Detectives approach workable investigations with a high level of dedication.

Here’s an example: Let’s say a police officer takes a report of a stolen bike from one of our neighborhoods. The responding officer will contact the victim, take the report, and canvas the neighborhood for cameras or other evidence. In this example, let’s say the officer finds a camera which captured the suspect fleeing the scene with the stolen bike. The officer will contact the owner of the camera and get a copy of the video. Then what happens? The officer will write the report which contains the pertinent details of the crime, then book the video as evidence. Our Records Division will review the report and forward it to the detectives for follow-up investigation. The detectives will use a number of different investigative techniques to try and identify the suspect who stole the bike (and hopefully return the bike to the rightful owner).

One of these techniques is the use of a BOLO (be on the lookout). Our detectives will create a flyer with the details of the crime and a photograph of the suspect and/or stolen property. This BOLO is then sent out to other investigators all over the county with the hope that another investigator will recognize the suspect or similarities to crimes committed in other cities. If the video quality or angle is such that the identification of the suspect is unlikely, our detectives will probably not send the BOLO. Now depending on the severity of the crime, like a major assault or significant commercial burglary, a BOLO might get sent all over Southern California or even all across the state. I’ve even seen BOLOs from other states for crimes such as murder or unidentified bodies. Fortunately, we don’t see too many of those.

The Seal Beach Detective Division investigate crimes in a few different categories.

Major Crimes such as homicide, robbery, extortion, assault with a deadly weapon, assault/battery, weapons, elder abuse (physical), domestic violence, hate crimes, terrorist threats, arson, stalking, kidnap, missing persons, and runaways.

Property Crimes like burglaries, grand theft, petty theft, vandalism, graffiti, sex crimes, child abuse/neglect, juvenile crime, and auto theft.

Financial Crimes such as forgery, fraud, embezzlement, identity theft, check fraud, elder abuse (financial), wire fraud, annoying/threatening phone calls, restraining order violations, and trespassing.

And thanks to the passing of Measure BB, we have also added a fourth Investigator assigned to specifically investigate crimes that occur inside Leisure World.

We also partner with the Department of Homeland Security and the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force by sending two detectives to these task forces.

Our detective assigned to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is part of a team that investigates fraud and financial crimes. As I’ve written about in the past, our residents fall victim to online and phone scammers all too frequently. By partnering with the federal agency, our resources are pooled and thus we are able to dedicate more resources to helping to solve these crimes. The vast majority of scammers are not located anywhere near Seal Beach, so working with HSI has allowed us to go after the “big fish” rather than just work with the banks to make victims’ whole again.

As for the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force (OCATT), we’ve seen our fair share of stolen and recovered stolen vehicles in Seal Beach. Often, stolen vehicles are sold to “chop shops” that dismantle stolen cars and sell the parts for much more than the vehicle is worth as a whole. OCATT is made up of investigators from several Orange County agencies and they also pool resources to help identify not only the criminals stealing cars, but also the criminal organizations that coordinate the thefts and chop shops.

Our detectives assigned to these task force positions are an important part of how we can drive down crime in Seal Beach.

Another critical component of the detective division is the role of the Police Civilian Investigator (PCI).  The PCI is a professional staff member who not only acts as the liaison to the Superior Court with in-custody arrests and criminal filings, but also authors search warrants, conducts crime analysis, and follows up on other investigative leads.  Her role is invaluable to solving crimes in Seal Beach.

For those curious, Seal Beach detectives hold the same rank as police officers, but we require our officers to have several years of experience in the field and specialized training before they can apply to be detectives. Detectives work for about five years before rotating back to patrol or another specialized assignment. We have one sergeant assigned to detectives as the division supervisor. I hope this gives you a little insight into the role of detectives within the SBPD. They do a great job of helping to solve crimes that happen in town.

Keep your questions coming Seal Beach. Email today!