Make room, ladies and gentlemen – there’s a new Sherriff’s Office in town.
After being in the works since the mid-nineties, the Lake Underhill substation opened in late February to help better serve the growing East Orlando population. According to Lee Massie, Orange County Sheriff’s Office captain of Sector 2, East Orlando is the largest of the 6 sectors within Orange County and answers the most calls annually. Sector 2 currently has about 165 deputies assigned to answer calls for service, patrol areas and keep the community safe.
“To have a facility like this affords us an opportunity to be more involved in the community we serve,” Massie says. “It also builds moral for our troops and makes them more positive.”
One of the things that makes the Lake Underhill substation so special is the emphasis on making it environmentally friendly. The building has natural lighting, storage for bicycles to encourage alternative transportation to work, water efficient landscaping and several other green initiatives. In fact, the new Sector 2 substation received 34 LEED points, which is an energy and environmental rating system for buildings. A building must only earn 26 points to be considered a LEED facility, of which the substation is only one of three LEED certified county facilities.
Instead of stark white walls, the substation is painted in calming green and blue hues. Also, a majority of the rooms in the substation are multi-functional. “Most rooms are set up to do just about anything,” Massie says. There is an on-site fitness facility that is open to all Orange County Sheriffs and a laundry room.
Another unique thing you’ll find at the Lake Underhill substation is empty offices and open rooms. “This building was built for anticipated growth,” Massie says. “So as the area grows, so will we.”
Despite being in a substation, Massie emphasizes the importance of being connected and working hand-in-hand with the Sherriff’s Office. “We’re not going to be two separate entities – we’re a continual seamless operation,” Massie says. This is done through the utilization of technology, which Massie says needs to be embraced in order to be effective. Through an online Orange County map viewer, Massie can view recent crimes that have occurred in specific areas, and then conclude where to send his deputies. If he starts to notice trends of suspicious people, he can post this on a virtual bulletin board that all sectors of the Sheriff’s Office are privy to, in an effort to share information.
“There’s a way to be both efficient and effective,” Massie says. “I have so many resources at my disposal. We can now merge crime analysis with enforcement – instead of looking for a needle in a giant hay stack, I can make the hay stack a little smaller.” Massie, who grew up in East Orange County and whose parents still live in the area, says he has a vested interest in keeping this community safe.
According to Massie, the next step is getting the citizens involved. The Orange County Sherriff’s Office website – OCSO.com – provides a wealth of helpful tips and information, as well as the opportunity to sign up for crime alerts. “We really want to reach out to citizens,” Massie says. “They know what’s suspicious in their neighborhoods, and when they see it they can tell us so we know what to look for. That way there’s this seamless flow of information.”
Article by Katelyn Schmidt