Captain Charisse Rivers commands the Criminal Investigations Bureau (CIB) and is responsible for the oversight of investigators assigned to the property, persons, and vice/narcotics sections. She also commands the forensic and evidence functions.
Captain Rivers began her career in law enforcement as a part-time auxiliary police officer with the Ft. Walton Beach Police Department while working full-time at Eglin Air Force Base in Range Patrol and Security Police Investigations. Captain Rivers worked as a patrol deputy with both the Collier and Hendry County Sheriff’s Offices before transferring to the Walton County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) in 1997. In 1998, Captain Rivers was promoted to investigator and spent the next several years investigating crimes against persons. She later became a sergeant within the CID. Captain Rivers was promoted to lieutenant and served as the agency’s accreditation manager, leading to the successful accreditation of the WCSO. Rivers was promoted in October 2012 to Captain and returned to lead the Criminal Investigations Bureau.
Captain Rivers has accumulated over 2,500 hours of law enforcement and management training, and she earned an Associate of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Okaloosa-Walton Community College.
Criminal Investigations Bureau
The Criminal Investigations Bureau is comprised of 32 members and is managed by Captain Charisse Rivers. The members include a Lieutenant over Persons and Property Crimes, A Lieutenant over Crime Scene and Evidence, and a Lieutenant over the Vice/Narcotics Unit. Two sergeants are assigned to the Bureau, one over criminal investigations in the north-end office and one to criminal investigations in the south-end office. These sergeants supervise both persons and property crimes investigators. A Corporal is assigned to the Vice/Narcotics Unit to assist in day-to-day supervisory duties. The Criminal Investigations Bureau also includes the WCSO’s criminal intelligence analyst, the Agency victim advocate, and a staff administrative assistant.
The Criminal Investigations Bureau conducts follow-up investigations generated from the Patrol Bureau, and also initiates criminal investigations evolving from criminal intelligence, confidential informants, technology, and self-generated information.
2012 Criminal Investigations Highlights:
• 1365 Cases Assigned for Follow-Up
• 440 Cases Closed
• 245 Warrants and Arrests Made
The Criminal Investigations Bureau is further divided into the following units: General Investigations, Crimes Against Persons, Vice/Narcotics, Criminal Intelligence Analyst, Victims Advocate, Evidence and Property
Seven (7) investigators assigned to the Bureau conduct property crimes investigations and specialize in general property, environmental and animal abuse cases. These investigators worked over 879 cases in 2012. Their work resulted in the return of stolen property which included vehicles, jewellery, household items, firearms, and money.
Investigations into crimes against persons are conducted by a team of six (6) investigators divided between the north and south end of the county. They are tasked with investigating cases involving death, assault, sexual battery, missing persons and crimes against children.
The digital evidence/cybercrime unit also conducts online child pornography investigations. A member of this unit was presented with an Excellence Award by the U.S. Attorney for his work on behalf of special victims which resulted in the federal prosecution of a child pornography case. The defendant in the case victimized twenty two children who were located all over the United States.
Highly trained and experienced investigators are assigned to work cases involving our most vulnerable citizens; the children and elderly.
In 2012, the investigators assigned to investigate crimes against persons worked 347 cases, many involving children and elderly adults.
The Vice/Narcotics Unit is comprised of eight (8) investigators who are tasked with conducting investigations into narcotics vice-related crimes. In 2012 alone, the Vice/Narcotics unit investigated 31 methamphetamine labs. Seventeen of these methamphetamine labs were “one pot” labs and fourteen labs were “red phosphorus” labs. Investigation into these methamphetamine labs resulted in a total of 43 arrests.
The number of methamphetamine labs worked in 2012 increased from 20 labs investigated in the prior year and an increase in arrests from 15 in 2011. Several of these methamphetamine labs required long term investigation. One of the investigations led to the arrest of an individual who had been involved in the manufacture of methamphetamine for at least ten years. During this particular investigation, a total of approximately 1,200 man hours were expended, and eighteen (18) subjects were identified as associates of the defendant. Both users and additional methamphetamine manufacturers were identified during this long-term investigation.
Vice/Narcotics investigators also worked cases involving prescription drugs and other listed controlled substances. In 2012, these investigators targeted retail establishments responsible for the sale of “Spice” and “Bath Salts”, both very dangerous synthetic controlled substances. One such investigation led to the seizure of hundreds of items of evidence of this nature. The retail establishment was temporarily closed but has since re-opened. Investigators continue to fight on a daily basis in attempt to keep the community safe from such dangerous substances.
One investigator within the unit is a member of the North Florida Heath Care Fraud Task Force which largely targets physicians who prescribe medications without sufficient medical necessity. Prescription drug abuse is on-going problem which is frequently addressed by the Vice/Narcotics Unit.
The WCSO’s criminal intelligence analyst provides valuable investigative support, not only to our division but to other divisions as well. The information gathered is compiled, analysed, and disseminated in an effort to anticipate, prevent, and/or monitor criminal activity. The criminal intelligence analyst was instrumental in a long term investigation involving the disappearance of two persons from within the County. In addition, the crime analyst monitors crime trends and provides information to the Patrol Bureau and Criminal Investigations Bureau which oftentimes results in arrests. The crime intelligence analyst keeps our sworn members abreast of new technology, trends, and individuals that could impact officer safety.
The Bureau’s victim advocate is funded through a grant. The victim advocate provides a myriad of services to victims of crime, to include assistance with victim’s compensation and injunctions for protection, as well as outside agency referrals. The victim advocate also provides assistance to investigators and patrol deputies in the agency and responds to crime scenes as needed.
In 2012, the victim advocate provided assistance to 590 victims of domestic violence, 23 adult victims of sexual abuse, and 135 children who were victims of physical or sexual abuse.
The three (3) members of the Evidence and Property Section are trained Crime Scene Technicians (CSTs) and are available 24 hours per day. The CSTs respond to and process all types of crime scenes, from simple theft cases to complicated, intricate homicide investigations. The crime scene technicians responded 272 times during 2012 to process crime scenes. A record number of items of evidence were seized by Agency members in 2012.
A total of 7,087 items were placed into evidence which required 12,744 computer entries to properly track these items. The Agency is currently maintaining and tracking 18,588 items of evidence. CSTs are also responsible for processing and securing all property and evidence seized by the agency.
In addition, they assist other members of the agency, as well as other agencies, in the use of the grant-funded mobile crime scene/command vehicle.