Patrol Division – Captain David Wingate
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division is considered to be the backbone of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office as it is not only the largest division within the Sheriff’s Office, but it is also the most visible. The Division is comprised of multiple shifts broken into Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta. In addition it maintains the School Resource Deputies, Courthouse Operations to include Bailiff, Transportation, and Civil Process service. Additionally, within the Division there are several specialized teams serving in the capacities of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), Dive, Marine, Negotiations, Training and K-9.
The responsibility of this unit is to maintain a safe and orderly environment for citizens and visitors in all areas of Columbia County. When assistance is requested from the Sheriff’s Office, the first deputy responding will most likely be a member of the Patrol Division. These deputies are in constant contact with the public and answer a variety of calls.
Commanded by a Captain and two Lieutenants, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division is made up of uniformed patrol deputies who provide law enforcement services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. These deputies are encompassed within five zones of the county and assigned to two Districts. District One is made up of Columbia County north of County Road 240 and District Two is everything south of CR 240.
Patrol deputies handle a varied range of calls from noise complaints to homicides. For this reason, these deputies must have in-depth knowledge of the law and must be well versed law enforcement officers.
Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT)
SWAT is an elite team of extraordinary deputies who are available for immediate call-out 24 hours a day. The Sheriff’s Office insists on highly trained and motivated deputies who must demonstrate their physical fitness, agility, and endurance in a strenuous physical test to qualify for the team. The team trains together as a unit and strives to provide Columbia County citizens with the best protection available.
To prepare for any situation that may arise, SWAT team members have trained with various state, government, and local agencies. All team members are instructed in less than lethal munitions, impact weapons, and gas deployment. Many of the deputies have received certification and instructor certification from specialized schools and their expertise is utilized to educate other team members. SWAT has been deployed to various situations that include; barricaded suspects, hostage situations, and high risk warrant services. They are also utilized for covert field intelligence gathering.
Crisis Negotiation Team
Another special function of the Patrol Division is that of Negotiations Unit. This special team is designated to negotiate or “talk” barricaded individuals out of their situation. Several Deputies have had specialized training in negotiation techniques. It is their job to settle the problem in as peaceful a manner as possible so that no one gets hurt. First and foremost, the Negotiation Unit will take into consideration the safety of hostages, innocent victims and bystanders. The unit will clear the area, establish an area of control and attempt to establish communication with the barricaded person by phone, verbal conversation, or face to face interaction. The Negotiations Unit will exhaust all avenues to ensure the release of hostages and then subdue the barricaded individual peacefully before they consider the use of any kind of force.
The Sheriff’s Office Dive Team provides a means to search for and recover items from local waterways. The Dive Team provides local law enforcement, emergency medical services and fire departments of Columbia County with a group of highly skilled individuals who can conduct search and recovery missions as well as crime scene investigations underwater. The team is responsible for all underwater evidence and body recovery in Columbia County. Through the use of various search patterns and techniques the Dive Team searches for items of all sizes and variety, from an item as big as an aircraft to as small as a single bullet casing.
The Dive Team dives in a variety of water conditions and in any climate. Most of the dives are made in the lakes, springs, and rivers of Columbia County where visibility is almost nonexistent.
School Resource Deputies
The School Resource Deputy Program is a nationally accepted program involving the placement of a law enforcement officer within the educational environment. In addition to providing a law enforcement presence at the schools, SRD’s are also role models for the students. The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office currently has seven Deputies assigned to the School Resource Deputy Program on a full-time basis.
The School Resource Deputies are involved in the everyday functions of the school. Aside from providing law enforcement, Deputies are also a classroom resource for educational programs in many areas including: law related education, crime and violence prevention, safety, and alcohol and drugs abuse prevention.
School Resource Deputies are also a great resource for parents, teachers, and students on an individual basis, dealing with individual problems and concerns. Parents are encouraged to contact their child’s SRD at any time for any reason. Teachers believe that having an SRD has made students realize that breaking the law has some severe consequences. SRD’s will listen to students and help them in any way possible as well as connect students to other services if needed. A big part of the SRD’s job is to listen to students. Many of the students feel that their SRD has been a big influence in their lives not only as a law enforcement officer, but also as a friend.
Together, the School District and the Sheriff’s Office are constantly working to implement new programs and provide students with the safest learning environment in which they can receive a quality education.
The training section is accountable for coordinating the development and administration of training programs throughout the agency. As agencies are held legally accountable for the actions of their personnel and for failing to provide initial or remedial training, the importance of the training function is more crucial now than ever before. Training serves three broad purposes: First, well-trained officers are better prepared to act decisively and correctly in a broad spectrum of situations. Second, training results in greater productivity and effectiveness. Third, training fosters cooperation and unity of purpose. Training includes CPR, first aid, firearms instruction, hazardous materials, officer safety, crime scene, self defense, community policing, driving and many others.
A Reserve Deputy’s primary duties are to provide additional personnel who are fully trained and ready for call-out during an emergency. They also assist in crowd control during major public events, respond during specified disaster and provide back up services at all levels, as needed.
Reserve Officers must conform to all general orders, abide by all policies set forth by the Sheriff of Columbia county Florida, and meet the same standards as any regular deputy.
For more information about becoming a Reserve Deputy Sheriff for Columbia County please visit our “How Do I” page or contact our Human Resources Division (386-758-2130).
Citizens Service Unit
The Citizens Service Unit (CSU) was formed in 2006 and is comprised entirely of citizen volunteers who provide non-law enforcement activities which assist in, and enhance the accomplishment of the mission of the Sheriff’s Office. The CSU, organized under the Crime Prevention Unit, is designed to supplement and support, rather than supplant, sworn officers and civilian employees. The duties of CSU members are many and varied, limited only by the restriction that CSU members are not law enforcement officers and have no law enforcement authority. CSU members are assigned tasks as requested by the various elements of the Sheriff’s Office, receive training in these tasks prior to being assigned and work under the direction of Sheriff’s Office supervisors.
You are invited to join our volunteer organization, the Citizens Service Unit. For more information on the CSU, click HERE.
Your Sheriff’s Office is responsible for serving a great many types of paperwork generated by the court system. The powers, duties and obligations of the Sheriffs in Florida are outlined under Florida Statutes 30.15 . This statute begins by stating that Sheriffs, in their respective counties, in person or by deputy, shall:
(a) Execute all process of the Supreme Court, circuit courts, and boards of county commissioners of this state, to be executed in their counties.
(b) Execute such writs, processes, warrants, and other papers directed to them, as may come to their hands to be executed in their counties.
[c] The Sheriff’s Office does not accept Foreign [out-of-State] process for service. Please go to the 3rd Judicial Circuit of Florida web site Jud3.flcourts.org for a list of private process servers in our area.
The Civil Process Section of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office consists of civilian and sworn members who document, process and execute both enforceable and non-enforceable writs within Columbia County. The Civil Process Section is located at the Columbia County Courthouse. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. All fees for process are set by Florida Statute and are detailed in a fee schedule. The Civil office will only accept cash, business checks, money orders or cashier’s checks. NO PERSONAL CHECKS will be accepted.
The Civil Office also acts on the “Instructions of Levy” in conjunction with the Writ of Execution. This is the instrument that allows the Sheriff to have a “levy” on goods and property of a judgment debtor to collect the judgment. This is accomplished by means of a Sheriff’s Sale if the judgment is not satisfied by the “judgment debtor” or defendant.
All Writs of Execution must be filed with the Department of State for a Judgment Lien Certificate to be issued; this is done by the Plaintiff. You can download forms on the internet at www.sunbiz.org or call the Department of State, Division of Corporations, Judgment Liens Section, at (850) 245-6039.
For a list of Civil Process fees, please visit our “How Do I” page.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement and security services to the courthouse of Columbia County. The primary duties of the members of Court Security include maintaining order in the courtrooms and judge’s chambers, assure the safety of court personnel and the general public when visiting the courthouse, and assuring that no weapons are brought on courthouse premises. During criminal jury trials, Court Security is responsible for the jurors during court and recesses. If a jury is sequestered, Court Security remains with jurors to assure their safety and make sure they are not contacted or otherwise informed of information, outside of the courtroom, involving the case for which they are serving as a juror.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Court Security section is supervised by a Sergeant, who is located in the Columbia County Courthouse. Bailiffs are regularly assigned to busy courtroom dates involving Felony Criminal, County Misdemeanor, and Juvenile Delinquency Court. A bailiff’s responsibility can be enormous during high profile cases or cases involving emotional issues such as family court or domestic injunctions