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Welcome to the Polk County Sheriff's Office News Room, where the Public Information Officers (PIO's) post all of the information that they release to the news media. PIO's act as liaisons between news media organizations and the Sheriff's Office. The PIO's routinely release timely and accurate information and Crime Stoppers bulletins, and respond to routine and "breaking news" media inquiries. News releases and Crime Stoppers information can be found on this page.
PCSO's full-time Public Information Officers are Brian Bruchey, Carrie Horstman, and Alicia Manautou. The Public Information Officers can be reached by sending an e-mail collectively at PIOs@polksheriff.org.
The recent news releases sent out by the PIOs can be found here, and archived releases (older than 2017) can be found here.
Back by popular demand is the Polk County Sheriff's Office's annual Haunted Jail Tour, located at 455 North Broadway in Bartow (the Lawrence W. Crow, Jr. building).
This year’s spooky theme is RESURRECTED. You won’t want to miss it!
For a $15.00 donation (per adult) to the United Way of Central Florida, you can take the haunted tour, and children under 10 years old can tour for just $5.00. But if you think the tour will be too scary for your little ones, don’t worry – we will have PCSO members there volunteering to watch your kids in a safe place while you tour.
This is a family friendly kid-oriented event! We’re shutting down Church Street for a street carnival, with arts & crafts booths, a dunk tank, bounce houses, and fun for the entire family.
If being scared makes you hungry or thirsty – no problem! The Newman BBQ food truck will be there selling delicious refreshments.
The Haunted Jail Tour will be running 4 nights, from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. – Friday & Saturday, October 20th and 21st, and Friday & Saturday, October 27th and 28th.
Be sure to tag our page and use #HJT2023 with your videos and pics.
HERE ARE SOME FAQs ABOUT THE TOUR:
How can I buy tickets? The tickets for the tour are not presold, they are sold in-person at the event until the 10 pm cutoff.
What kind of payment will be accepted? Tickets can be purchased with cash or a credit card.
Where is parking? There will be signs leading the way to the appropriate parking area.
How long does the tour last? Customers will be led in groups by tour guides. The tours should last about 10 to 15 minutes.
Can anyone volunteer? We are allowing juniors & seniors from the county high schools to volunteer for their community service hours. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to see what volunteer spots are open, and a parent/guardian must sign a waiver before a student can volunteer.
What if my child is too scared to go through the tour? If your child is too scared or if you do not feel your child would do well on the tour we will have agency members available to watch your child until the tour is complete. They will be located near the end of the tour and will only be watched by members of the Sheriff's Office.
Can participants use their cell phones to video during the tour? Yes, however, do so at your own risk. In years' past we saw several people who lost their phones or damaged them by dropping them during the tour.
Is the tour accessible for mobility challenged individuals? We do have an elevator to use on the 2nd floor of the tour but there are some areas that are not wheelchair accessible due to steps and stairs. We will do everything we can to accommodate those who are in a wheelchair, or who use a walker, cane, or crutches, but some parts of the tour may not be accessible. If someone has mobility issues, they should advise the person at the ticket booth and we will have an agency member accompany them through the tour to make sure they get to all the areas that are accessible to them.
Will strobe lights be used? We will be using strobe lights which can affect those who have epilepsy or other disorders. If you are affected by strobe lights, we do not recommend going through the tour.
Will we be searched before entering the tour? We do have a metal detector before participants can enter the tour. This is for the safety of the tour guests and our volunteers. No weapons of any kind (including concealed carry permit holders' firearms) are allowed in the facility. Deputies are involved in the tour and will also be in the street fair area - this will be a very safe place to hang out and have family-friendly fun.
Can we wear costumes? Costumes are welcome but please remember that this is a kid friendly event, so please make sure that your costume is appropriate for all ages. We recommend that if you are walking through the Haunted Jail Tour that you wear closed-toed shoes and not flip flops or sandals (sometimes toes can get stepped on when people get scared and jump or bump into each other).