ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando police announced it's creating a new team to respond to sex crimes and crimes against children.
The department said it averages about four calls every day involving sex crimes and crimes against children, so it wants to better train officers on how to handle the cases.
Officials said no single incident or trend promoted the announcement, but the department belives the change will help catch more suspected criminals.
Police pointed to the handling of a case in which a man was accused of placing his cellphone in a handbasket and filming up the skirts of underage girls at a Publix as how they believe the Special Victim's Reponse Team should operate.
"By the second day, he had the suspect identified by the eyewitness and by the time he handed that case to me, all I had to do was locate the victims at this point," Orlando police detective Rick Salcedo said.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced the program during the State of the City address.
Police said 32 officers are being trained on how to interact with victims of sex crimes and victims who are children, which are tasks usually completed by detectives.
"We hand selected and we asked officers who would be interested in these type of investigations to volunteer for this team," Salcedo said.
In 2015, OPD responded to around 1,500 calls for sexual battery or child abuse. The new team will respond immediately to those calls, officials said.
"It's going to get better evidence, get quicker evidence and get victims like to that sense of healing more quickly than before," Lui Damiani, of the Victim Service Center, said.
Salcedo said most officers being trained already know how to treat victims, but they need to be shown the guidelines and protocols OPD uses.
Training for the officers is set to begin later this month.
The Victim Service Center said it's seeing an increase in the number of cases it handles.
The director of the center believes the number of cases will climb with the new program, not because of an increase in crime, but because of an increase in the number of cases reported as a result of the program.
Cox Media Group