CSI: Walton County?
The Walton County Sheriff’s Office has received a Combating Crime in a Rural Community grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The nearly $819,000 grant is the largest the department has received, according to a news release announcing the award.
The bulk of the grant will be used to purchase and equip the Sheriff’s Office’s first crime scene vehicle.
Another portion of the funds will “provide the most modern and innovative forensic investigation training to the CSI unit personnel,” the release states.
Remaining funds will be used to hire a full-time grants writer to manage all current grants and research new opportunities.
Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson took pride that the grant was competitive; the Department of Justice ranked each application on how many of the established criteria were met. He said that proves how far the department has come.
The new unit will result in shorter response times and better service, he said. Until now, the Sheriff’s Office had relied on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Crime Scene Unit, which had to travel from Pensacola.
The FDLE does a good job and will continue to assist, “but this gives us on-scene capability to respond more quickly, more efficiently and with better training, and we can have one of the top crime scene divisions in the state,” Adkinson said.
The Sheriff’s Office had to borrow a crime scene unit from Bay County during a two-day manhunt in late August because Walton did not have one, said spokesman Mike Gurspan.
Matheos Pitikas, a 24-year-old fugitive from Texas, had crashed his car in a wooded area in Point Washington and then fled into the woods.
Separate-but-related crime scenes often develop out of a single incident, according to the news release. During the search for Pitikas, four crime scenes were investigated.
A fifth crime scene was created when Pitikas shot and killed himself before he was captured.
By KIM WHITE / Florida Freedom Newspapers