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Orange County Sheriff's Office spearheads crime summit

Deputies, government leaders, clergy discuss crime trends

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orange County sheriff's deputies, government leaders and local clergy got together Wednesday to discuss crime and ongoing issues in the area.

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The meeting, held at the Rosen Center, was the 13th annual crime summit held by the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies provided an update on recent crime trends, talked about the heroin epidemic in Central Florida and addressed the addition of body cameras.

Authorities said they hope the message reaches the community.

"This is part of our outreach to make sure our community is well informed," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said.

Orange County sheriff's Maj. Nancy Brown gave a presentation addressing the uniformed crime rate in the county, which shows percentages for violent and nonviolent crimes.

"At the end of 2014 in unincorporated Orange County, we had 74 homicides. Right now, we're sitting at 41 homicides, where last year at this time we were at 48," Brown said.

Brown said statistics are showing less homicides than last year, but added that a trend shows drugs are almost always involved.

Brown said two people died from heroin overdoses this week and she, the sheriff and county officials worry that the number of deaths will mount if the problem is not combated.

"It is not just a law enforcement issue, it is a public health issue and we're seeing a lot of young people, a lot of people in their 20s, 30s, 40s that are overdosing on heroin. Sometimes they survive, sometimes they don't," Brown said.

A lengthy presentation on body cameras was also given at the summit. The Sheriff's Office tested two different kind of cameras for 90 days on 50 law enforcement officers. A committee was formed to oversee the trial and analyze their use.

The Sheriff's Office has purchased 660 cameras that will be introduced in waves. The first round of 150 cameras will be assigned to officers in December. By September 2016, all 660 will be worn by patrol deputies.