Job has its rewards
Jonathan Baggett, detective for the Orange Police Department, works on a caseload of up to 40 cases at one time. Each day he has the possibility of getting more cases added. But, seeing a case through to prosecution can be very rewarding.
By Debby Schamber – For the Record
Each day as a detective is different than the last with its own unique challenges, but in the end it can be worth all the sleepless nights, headaches and hard work.
Jonathan Baggett, detective for the Orange Police Department, has a caseload of about 20 to 40 cases at one time. He works to gather the information on each case before forwarding it to the district attorney’s office for a possible conviction. Sometimes the cases come to a screeching halt when more information is needed or he is waiting on lab results.
“When you put a lot of work into a case and to see it through to prosecution, it can be very rewarding,” Baggett said.
On some days the detectives work together on a single case. One such case is that of a robbery at a convenience store in the 1800 block Dupont Drive. Together they formulate ideas to help solve the case. When a homicide case comes in it takes precedence and they join together to gather information. When working together as a team each detective is given a task to complete. Once they are done they may receive another task to complete.
Each detective is assigned to one shift of patrol officers. After the patrol officers write their reports, the detectives take it from there and take it to the next level. The reports vary in types of cases. Some may be a driving while intoxicated while another may be a burglary or vandalism. Baggett takes his cases and prioritizes them. He also has separate files for cases awaiting information while another file is ready to be presented to the district attorney’s office.
“It’s a lot of multi-tasking,” Baggett said.
Baggett hasn’t always worked as a detective, he was on patrol for eight of his nine years at OPD.
Baggett started working as a police officer as soon as he could. After taking some college classes, he switched to the academy. He didn’t follow in anyone’s footsteps but chose the path of a police officer on his own.
In addition to his duties as a police officer, he was a member of the Special Weapons And Tactics team for about six years. The SWAT team is an elite tactical unit. They are trained to perform high-risk operations which fall outside of the abilities of regular officers. They are called to work during instances such as a hostage situations, to deal with heavily armed suspects or someone who had barricaded themselves in a structure. The local SWAT team is formed with officers from the various agencies in the area. However, most recently he quit SWAT and has decided to concentrate on his duties as a detective and his wife and two children.
According to Baggett, the life of an officer on patrol and that of a detective can be somewhat different. When an officer goes home after being on patrol, the day is over. But when a detective goes home, the cases he works on are still on his mind. An investigator may continue to think about them and the many things he could do in order to get an arrest and a successful prosecution.
“You go home and its’ still there,” he said.
The detectives mainly work Monday through Friday from the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, there are times when duty calls at all hours of the day or night. In addition, each detective at OPD takes his turn on a rotation of working a week “on call.”
Taking a vacation is not as easy as it seems. Baggett knowns it can be difficult to be gone for a week and come back to a desk covered in new cases. It is easier to plan his vacation schedule to go along with the shift who is on their eight consecutive days off.
Twice per year for a week-long class, Baggett, along with other local officers, teaches a class at the police academy in Beaumont. After receiving his certification through the National Academy for Professional Driving, he teaches the cadets the ins and outs of driving. Baggett is certified in sedans and SUVs.
Baggett encourages anyone wanting to become an officer to do what they can to achieve their goals. He also thinks each officer should work both on patrol and as a detective to get a well-rounded experience. It may come in handy as a stepping stone to a supervisory position someday.