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Windermere Observer Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 1 year ago

OCSO to reduce Sector 3, remove Pine Hills

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To address the rapid growth in Horizon West, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is adjusting the zones that compose Sector 3 for the first time in 20 years.
by: Gabby Baquero News Editor

ORANGE COUNTY – The Orange County Sheriff’s Office plans to adjust its approach to crime reduction in Horizon West by decreasing the size of sector 3.

Orange County is divided into six patrol sectors, which are subdivided into a total of 26 zones. Five of those zones compose Sector 3, which includes the fast-growing Horizon West community.

According to Tony Marlow, who became the new Sector 3 captain in January, OCSO would reduce the geographical area of Sector 3 by removing the unincorporated areas of Pine Hills that are part of Sector 3. Pine Hills then would become part of sector 1, and the five zones that compose Sector 3 would be divided up into eight smaller zones, giving deputies smaller areas to patrol. 

The idea for the zone adjustment is the result of a recent workload assessment conducted that compared each sector’s staffing levels to the average number of calls for service each sector receives.

“Based off of the review for Sector 3 ... the recommendation to the sheriff, which he’s approved, is to make the geographical area smaller and make eight zones out of Sector 3,” Marlow said. “Currently, Horizon West is in zone 31, but Pine Hills, which is part of Zones 32 and 34, will be absorbed into Sector 1.”

Marlow shared this information during the Horizon West Town Hall meeting held Jan. 30, at Lifebridge Church in Windermere. 

“We’re doing this because we think it would decrease response times,” Marlow said. “The deputies that are displaced from Pine Hills will be redistributed throughout the three new zones created.”

Marlow added that based on the call volume, the Sheriff’s Office currently has adequate staffing to provide service to the Horizon West area. But the zoning modifications are necessary because of the influx of homes and people moving into the area.

Map of the proposed Sector 3 with zone changes. (Courtesy of Orange County Sheriff's Office)

In 2017 alone, 57% of all residential permitting in Orange County came from Horizon West, said Eric Raasch, of the county’s Planning and Development Division. Horizon West, which encompasses 21,000 acres, currently has 40,282 residential units. Most of the growth, Raasch said, is moving south and west.

“We were prepared for an influx of growth of about 2,500 people a year, but that began to triple starting in maybe 2013 or 2015,” Marlow said. “But by restructuring the zones, we believe we’ll be able to provide better service to everyone in the Horizon West area. And that’s another reason why Pine Hills is being taken out of Sector 3 — so that we can devote more resources to the anticipated growth that we’ll see in Horizon West.”

When asked what OCSO is doing to make sure deputies in Sector 1 can handle the added areas without being overwhelmed, Marlow said starting Feb. 11, OCSO will have two new additional squads in Pine Hills — a total of 16 deputies — that will be funded via a three-year grant. 

Sector 1 includes the unincorporated areas of Ocoee, Winter Park, Maitland, Apopka, Lockhart Mount Dora, Pine Hills, Plymouth, Rosemont, Tangerine and Zellwood.

“They’re called the community-oriented policing squad, and they will be there solely in Pine Hills,” Marlow said. “It’ll be seven days a week coverage. So we won’t be reducing their number of deputies. And when the change happens, those deputies will be absorbed into Pine Hills, so they won’t be losing anything.”

The zone changes will not be implemented until sometime in mid-2019, Marlow said. 

“I can’t give you an exact date, but it might be in mid-2019,” he said. “It’ll take a while because we’re upgrading our computer-aided dispatch. We’ll have to enter different addresses and that takes a lot of data entry.”

 

 

 

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