More Street Stories Writer's Notes

Public Safety Departments and DA Investigations

Moving On

We’ve covered municipal, county, and some state law enforcement so far. How about departments that take a different spin on preserving public safety. The department from which I retired last year-Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety-is one of two in the state of California that combine police and fire resources and are called Departments of Public Safety.

Public Safety Agencies

Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety (RPDPS) offers this definition of their personnel:

Rohnert Park DPS vehicles
Vehicles from Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety in Northern California

A Public Safety Officer (PSO) is a unique professional who is cross-trained in law enforcement and fire fighting. All PSOs work the team concept in an effort to identify problems and request resources to resolve particular issues while they are in the incipient stage. Because of the demands on a PSO, they receive, in average, 200 hours a year of “in service” training as well as state certified training at offsite facilities. The Public Safety Officer is committed to serving the community where they work and often live.

Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety (SDPS) is run similarly. Sunnyvale DPS personnel work shifts are similar to RPDPS, offer the same services as every full-service police/fire agency.

Both agencies have comprehensive websites which will offer plenty of info on basic services, special programs, crime prevention and so on. Sunnyvale DPS is in Santa Clara County and Rohnert Park DPS is in Sonoma County.

If your story has an arson incident involved, a DPS character could offer a dimension to an investigation that a run-of-the-mill cop couldn’t duplicate. Bear in mind that, depending on the agency policy, an arson investigator must have state certification and 832 PC (arrest powers provided by the California Penal Code). If your agency is fictional, you can create the rules, but to be realistic, a thorough conversation with a PSO can give you a solid framework to work within.

District Attorney Investigators

Gun and badge from Mendocino, Ca. District Attorney's Office
Gun and badge from Mendocino, Ca. District Attorney’s Office

DA investigators are peace officers with arrest powers. They are usually culled from the ranks of law enforcement agencies–active duty and retired.

In Sonoma County, the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation consists of investigators (sworn peace officers), legal assistants and a secretary. The following is a description of the department’s function:

The Bureau’s mission is to provide professional, high-quality investigative and trial support services to the prosecutors. Bureau investigators average fifteen years of law enforcement experience, typically with a police or sheriff’s department, and at least 3 years as a detective before making the transition to this office. They are recruited from the most highly skilled men and women in the law enforcement field and they must have achieved an excellent reputation for integrity, team work, and competence in their profession. All Bureau staff members can assist prosecutors in preparing and organizing cases for court, which includes locating critical witnesses, organizing evidence for presentation at trial, and conducting pretrial investigations. In addition, they often assist other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in a variety of investigations. Bureau members provide prosecutors and the public with a wide variety of investigative expertise in criminal matters such as:

  • Homicides
  • Criminal Street Gangs
  • Witness Protection
  • Law Enforcement Employee-Involved Fatal Incidents
  • Computer and Identity Theft Crimes
  • Major Fraud
  • Consumer Fraud
  • Parental Child Abduction and Recovery
  • Environmental Protection
  • Domestic Violence
  • Elder Fraud and Abuse
  • Sexual Assault
  • Child Abuse

Next Sunday (uh, that would be tomorrow), we’ll look at State law enforcement agencies.

By Thonie Hevron

Mysteries to keep you reading through the night.

Welcome to Thonie's world!

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