Stephen Ward has worked in various departments at the Orange Police Department. He currently is a Detective Sgt. Before becoming a detective he worked as an ID Tech and on patrol.

Editors note; this is part of an ongoing series into the lives of local police officers. The intention is to build a good line of communication between the officers and the public in light of recent headlines in cities across the nation. 

By Debby Schamber – For the Record

From civilian I.D. Technician to patrolman and to investigator, Stephen Ward has worked the ins and outs of the Orange Police Department.

Ward began his career as an ID technician at OPD in 2010. His prior job at a Mid-County church helped him gain the necessary experience to become a part of the profession he had always wanted.

Since childhood, Ward had always wanted to be in law enforcement. His interest gained momentum through the criminal justice program offered in high school. He rode along with officers at various local police departments. It was not long before he knew law enforcement was definitely in his future.

As an ID Tech, Ward collected evidence at the various crime scenes. He would take pictures and collect things such as DNA, fingerprints and much more. An ID Tech is over the evidence and property room.  Ward also transported evidence to the property room and held it until it was sent to the crime lab or taken to the court house.

Ward took his expertise a bit further when he became certified in using the laser transit machine. This is a very useful tool when taking precise measurements at wreck scenes.

In 2013, Ward was sponsored by OPD and attended the regional police academy. When he completed the academy he was ready to start patrolling the streets of Orange. Due to the high call volume, officers go from call to call. This leaves little time for anything else. But, when Ward could find the time he worked to free the streets of drugs. As a result, he made 28 arrest on narcotics charges which is considered to be higher than normal.

Ward worked as a patrol officer for 18 months before becoming a detective. He works closely with one shift of patrol officers. After they turn in their reports, it is up to Ward to follow up on cases where an investigation is needed. By doing this he works a wide variety of cases. In other agencies, detectives may only work one type of case, but at OPD the investigators get cases ranging from burglary to assault.

His experience as an ID tech has a lot of advantages which he puts to use as an investigator. He is able to look at a crime scene and knows exactly what to look for and how it will be collected and eventually put to use for a conviction.

“It is a high advantage,” Ward said.

Eventually, he would like to work in the narcotics division to round out his experience, he said.

Although there are many, there is one case which stands out in his mind. He worked the case of an aggravated robbery at a local business. The victim was distraught and scared. Ward worked to calm her down. Within 24 hours the suspect was in custody. Ward was able to return to the victim and inform her of the arrest.

“It felt good to be able to go back and tell her about the case,” Ward said.

Every eight weeks Ward takes his turn to be on call. Every detective is part of this rotation. He can also be called out on homicides since he is part of the Homicide Investigation Team. The team is made up of local investigators who assist one another when needed.

“It’s a team effort,” Ward said.

The most challenging part of being an investigator is making sure the details are all there when submitted to the district attorney’s office.

“It has to be top notch to get a conviction,” he added.

No matter what Ward is doing, he is working to do the best job he can.

“I enjoy where I am at and what I do,” Ward said. “It makes it easier to go to work when you love what you do.”