The Operations Bureau provides services to the unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County and consists of three major Divisions: Patrol, Investigations, and Community Policing.
The Patrol Division's mandate is to provide continuous first responder 9-1-1 service, non-emergency service, and general law enforcement in the unincorporated areas of the County. A Sheriff's Sergeant is assigned to each shift. The Sergeant directs the activities of the shift and coordinates enforcement assignments in response to calls for service. Deputies drive the distinctive green and white Sheriff's Office patrol cars and wear a khaki shirt and green pants. The Sheriff's Office receives nearly 95,000 calls for service each year, the majority of which receive the attention of the Patrol Division.
The Investigation Division's mandate is to perform thorough and accurate investigations of matters that by their nature are not routinely handled by the Patrol Division. Detectives are assigned to investigate serious and complex crimes requiring technical skills, abilities, resources and very often specialized training. The Division is structured utilizing a specialization concept in which criminal cases are assigned by established categories to the appropriately staffed and trained section for follow-up investigation. The Investigation Division is composed of six sections: Coroner, Crime Scene Investigation, Robbery/Homicide/Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault/Child Abuse, and Crimes Against Property/High Tech.
Special Investigations consists of the Problem Oriented Policing (POP) Team and the Special Enforcement Team (SET). The POP Team’s primary focus is gang investigation and intervention, crime prevention and suppression, proactive response to significant crimes and community problems and fugitive apprehension in the unincorporated areas of the county. POP detectives analyze crime trends and respond to specific crime problems within the community, while working closely with patrol deputies and investigators. SET detectives conduct investigations and enforcement actions against large-scale marijuana cultivation, butane-honey oil and other clandestine laboratories, and controlled substances sales and distribution.
Community Policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime - Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice.
The Sheriff's Office is committed to community policing as an integral part of its overall law enforcement efforts. Community Policing operates four Service Centers situated in Aptos,Live Oak, San Lorenzo Valley, and South County.