A native South Floridian, Lt. Ken Kaminsky was inspired to join law enforcement by his father who was an officer in the 60s. In 1990, he joined the Broward Sheriff's Office. He worked patrol, became a detective working in many units, and was promoted to Sergeant of the Homicide Unit. Six years later, he was promoted to Lieutenant in charge of the Homicide and the Violent Crimes Units.
Lt. Kaminsky says, "Although homicide detectives can't fix the emotional trauma, they can make sure that the person responsible for the death has been arrested and brought into the justice system." For this reason, he is most proud of his work in homicide, stating, "This is the most satisfying challenge in law enforcement."
When asked if he finds it difficult to be around death, Lt. Kaminsky responds, "No, when a person has passed, the pain has already occurred - it's not like being on a scene where the victim is still alive and struggling for life." His personal technique for coping with the difficult subject matter is to "approach it from a scientific and professional manner in order to understand what occurred."
When Lt. Kaminsky is not working, you can find him spending time with his family fishing, hunting or spending time at a vacation home on the Tennessee River. You just might catch him jet skiing on the river or riding his ATV on his mountain land to enjoy the sunset.
Born and raised in Cleveland, OH, veteran Lt. Bob O'Neil served in the U.S. Navy submarine service before beginning his career in law enforcement. His extensive career began after he completed the Police and Fire Academies while working at the Coconut Creek Police Department. He then proudly became a Deputy Sheriff for the Broward Sheriff's Office. There, he worked road patrol duty, street narcotics and served as a Dive Team member. He began his investigative career as a burglary detective before moving to the Violent Crimes Unit. He joined the Homicide Unit in 1990 where he worked as a Detective for six years, a Sergeant for ten years and as the Lieutenant for six.
"I never wanted to be anything else," O'Neil says of being a Deputy Sheriff. "I remember always being fascinated as I watched marked units responding to locations with the lights and sirens blaring and I wondered what exciting adventure they were responding to." He finds homicide to be the ultimate task in police work because of the seriousness of the crime and the importance of solving it. He feels that bringing justice and closure to the victims' families is an honor and a privilege.
O'Neil is also very proud of his two sons who have chosen careers serving their community by working in law enforcement. His eldest son is a Deputy Sheriff with the BSO and youngest son is an Agent with the U.S. Customs. Even his wife is a medical doctor who works as an Associate Medical Examiner.
Recently retired from homicide, you can find O'Neil on his 42-foot Ocean Alexander boat.
Sgt. Dave Ellwood is a 23 year veteran officer. He is fifth generation law enforcement whose lineage began in the 1870s where his great-great-grandfather rose to the rank of Captain for the Baltimore City Police Department. He grew up listening to homicide stories from his father who was a Baltimore City homicide Detective and Sergeant for 13 years. "As a kid, I was in awe of my father who solved very interesting homicides. I knew it was a very honorable profession," he says. Born and raised in Baltimore, Ellwood joined the Baltimore City Police Department in 1990. Seven years later he moved to Broward County and began working for the Broward Sheriff's Office in Road Patrol, Property Crimes and then Sex Crimes. In 2007 he became a homicide Detective working homicide cases until he was promoted to Sergeant in 2011. Sergeant Ellwood is one of two supervisors who oversee the BSO Homicide Unit.
"Homicide feels like a natural place for me," Ellwood says. He adds that being around death doesn't affect him as much as it may affect others because he grew up hearing the stories from his father. He is proud to have followed in his footsteps.
When Sgt. Ellwood is not working, he is very active in coaching youth sports. He currently coaches his son's basketball and football teams. "This job can really consume you and it's hard to find extra time for family, and especially the coaching," he says, but still he tries to find the time.
Sgt. Steve Feeley was born in Naperville, IL, but grew up in Pompano Beach, FL. He started working for the City of Oakland Park as a cop in 1992. In 2000, Broward Sheriff's Office took over Oakland Park, and he has continued ever since. After working his way up to property crimes, he was promoted to Sergeant and put in charge of the robbery unit. Before joining homicide in 2011, Sgt. Feeley worked in the special victim's unit.
Bringing closure to families is the greatest part of Sgt. Feeley's job. "I love the work we do. We get to help families bring closure. There's nothing better than putting someone in prison for the rest of their lives for taking a life." Feeley finds working in homicide to be easier than other jobs he has had with the BSO. "I found special victims unit harder because it really upset me to see a child molested by a family member." Feeley is thankful for the support he gets from the BSO and is proud of their high clearance rate.
Outside of his work with Homicide, Sgt. Feeley enjoys playing golf and is involved with his church. He has been married for twenty years and has two daughters.
Det. John Berrena was born in Holyoke, MA. While serving overseas his family moved to Broward County, FL. When Berrena returned he needed to find a real job. "I couldn't find one so I became a cop," he says. Berrena found the service of being in law enforcement very rewarding. "A good cop will always find a solution." He started in property crimes and moved his way up through violent crimes, robbery, and finally homicide. Det. Berrena takes great pride in the confidence that homicide detectives bring to their job. He also enjoys working with the community, saying, "Sometimes I'll get a call or a letter thanking me for the way we handled the investigation or for taking the time to talk with their kid(s)." Bringing "compassion to the family of the victim" is a special part of the job for Det. Berrena.
Berrena finds stress relief in the camaraderie of the unit. "There will always be the dark, depressing side of this job," but when the opportunity arises, "we also make fun of each other to lighten the mood. You can't be thin-skinned in this job." Berrena takes spinning classes to work off the stress of the job.
In February 2013, Berrena retired from the Broward Sheriff's Office and is now an SIU Investigator at Herman Law, a nationally recognized law firm dedicated to representing victims of sexual abuse. At Herman Law, Berrena continues to help victims by exposing predators and the institutions that protect them. Although he finds his new career rewarding, there are times he misses working in homicide. "I still keep in touch with them because they are a great group of stand up guys."
Det. Victor Carrasquillo was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Prior to his career in law enforcement, he worked for the school board of Broward County. He was inspired to switch careers when a friend who was a police officer suggested that he would make a great cop. Up for a new challenge, Carrasquillo joined the Broward Sheriff's Office in 2000. He worked in various units starting in the department of detention. He then transferred to the department of law enforcement and held various positions such as the SET team, Property Crimes, Abuse and Neglect, sex crimes, and Robbery before moving to Homicide in 2013.
While Carrasquillo enjoyed working in other departments within the BSO, he is excited to be a part of the Homicide unit. "This is the pinnacle of investigations," he says. He likes knowing that he is able to help the victims' families by bringing closure to a case so they can heal from the tragedy of losing a loved one.
When Carrasquillo is not working, he maintains a very active lifestyle full of working out and playing sports. He coaches PAL boxing, track and field and flag football for kids.
Born in Hazelton, PA, Det. John Curcio joined the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in 1980. After working in Patrol, The Tactical Impact, Stakeout, Burglaries, Robberies and Auto Thefts, he finally made his way to Homicide in 1996. Initially, Curcio was hesitant to leave Robbery, fearing the caseload in Homicide would be smaller and possibly boring. However, he soon learned that the challenges were different and he in turn found it to be very rewarding. He is glad he made the move. After leaving the Fort Lauderdale Police Department after 29 years he lasted ten days in retirement before joining the Broward County Sheriff's Office.
"I was always one of those guys who wanted to be a policeman since I was a kid," Curcio says. He is most proud that he is able to help people and that even after 33 years he is still as happy working his job as he was on day one. He attributes his calm personality as to why he is able to deal with the intense nature of the job, offering, "While I completely understand the seriousness, I have never been overwhelmed on a scene. It's just my personality."
Curcio is married with three kids; twins and a son. He enjoys spending time with them when he is not working. He also likes taking care of his home, riding his motorcycle and rescuing a variety of animals. At one point he had 50 birds.
Det. Kevin Forsberg was born in Melbourne, FL and shortly afterwards moved with his family to Venezuela where he lived for 13 years. Forsberg returned to south Florida and began his career in Law Enforcement in 1994 working for a State University Police Department. In 2001 Forsberg joined the Broward County Sheriff's Office working in the contracted cities of Parkland, Oakland Park, and Pompano Beach. Shortly after, he became a Detective in the Pompano Beach Criminal Investigations Unit investigating property crimes for nearly three years. He continued his career as a Detective in the Violent Crimes Unit before joining the Broward Sheriff's Homicide Unit in 2011.
Forsberg has devoted his career to solving the worst possible crimes known to man and bringing justice to the victims and their families. "I take pride in doing my work," he says, "even if the intense subject matter wears on me." Forsberg says that the worst part of the job is seeing the emotional pain the victim's family members suffer after the loss of a loved one.
To de-stress from the job, Forsberg enjoys riding motorcycles, a hobby he picked up in Venezuela where he raced dirt bikes, as well as ATV'ing and boating.
Det. Walt Foster grew up in Westbury, Long Island, NY, living there since the age of 10. Knowing early on that he wanted to work in law enforcement, he enlisted in the military hoping to learn valuable skills that would benefit his career. After serving in the Gulf War, Foster returned to NY and joined the NYPD in 2000. A few years later, he moved to Southern Florida and began working at the Broward Sheriff's Office where he worked on patrol and in the Violent Crimes Unit before transferring to Homicide in 2012.
Foster says he has always wanted to be a Homicide investigator and jumped at the opportunity when it presented itself. Having served in the military and as an NYPD cop during 9/11, Foster is no stranger to being around intense matter. He admits that this job can wear on you emotionally because "it seems that I am always the bearer of the worst news."
A motor sports enthusiast, Foster likes watching motorsports racing in his spare time to release the stresses of the job.
Det. Frank Illarraza was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City. He joined the NYPD in 1978. Three years later, Ilarraza moved to Broward County and started working the Narcotics Department in the Broward Sheriff's Office. Soon after he moved on to Robbery and then, when a friend asked him to join the Homicide team, he jumped at the chance. "I was hooked," he says. "We give a voice to those who can't speak anymore." He is most proud when he can give closure to families.
Det. Ilarraza says that while you eventually get used to working homicide cases and seeing death every day, the job has taught him to appreciate life. "I have seen how fast it can go in a split second." His job has inspired him to change his eating habits and eat the right foods.
Ilarraza enjoys restoring old cars. Currently he is working on a 1968 Mustang Fastback, the same model from Steve McQueen's Bullitt.
Det. Ilarraza is most proud of a case he worked in the early 90s. A group of seven 18 to 20-year-olds beat and stabbed a school bully. Within the first 48 hours of the case happening he was able to arrest all seven suspects. The case was the inspiration for a book, "Does Anyone Deserve to Die?" and later a film called Bully, released in 2001, in which Det. Ilarraza played the lead detective. Det. Ilarraza was also featured in a magazine, Front Page Detective, called "Who Killed Bicycle Bob in the Hobo Jungle?"
Det. Jeff Kogan was born in New York and his family moved twice while he was growing up; first to Maryland and then to Miami, FL. He knew he wanted to work in the criminal justice system but was unsure whether he wanted to be a lawyer or a Police Officer. "I chose to be a cop." He worked four years as a State Trooper before joining the Broward Sheriff's Office as a Patrol Officer. He has been a Detective investigating violent crimes since 2003, and then transferred to the Homicide Unit in 2009.
Like many of the Detectives, Kogan enjoys "bringing closure to families" through his investigations. He does not find himself bothered by working in homicide. "I realized this was where I wanted to spend my career." Kogan finds that working homicide makes you "appreciate life more."
Det. Kogan is married and has two daughters. He enjoys playing golf and watching sports.
Born in Newark, NJ to Cuban parents, Det. Valerian Perez grew up in South Florida. He comes from a long tradition of family involvement in law enforcement, but he wanted to be a fireman until he went to the police academy. When he was hired by the BSO in 1993, he joined a brother and five cousins already in law enforcement in Florida and New Jersey. Perez's enthusiasm for the profession hasn't waned. "Being in law enforcement is like having a front row seat to the greatest show on earth." Perez started in the road patrol unit in the South Broward/District 1 area. Before coming to Homicide in 2011, Perez worked as a detective in the Violent Crimes Unit for eight years.
Det. Perez loves the work that he does with the Broward Sherriff's Office, saying, "There is no more sense of accomplishment than when you can solve a 'who done it.' The sense of doing the most important investigation is what carries you through the tough times in an investigation. It motivates me more to find the people responsible."
Outside of the office Det. Perez is the father of two teenage boys. His biggest interests are motorcycles and riding ATVs with his two boys.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY in a neighborhood where many of his friends became either cops or firefighters, Det. Louie Rivera joined the NYPD in 1993. "I've always had a fear of heights so I knew the fire department wasn't for me," he jokes. After working Patrol and Robbery, he was transferred to Homicide in 2008 and now, twenty years later, he's glad he had that fear of heights when he was younger.
Rivera feels that working in law enforcement, particularly homicide, gives him an opportunity to make a difference in people's lives. He is proud to work alongside some of the best detectives in the agency. While he agrees that working death investigations can at times "give you a front row seat to evil at its worst," Rivera tries hard not to let it wear him down. "I rely heavily on my faith and am thankful to have a fiancé and close friends who I can rely on for support," he says on coping with the stress of the job.
Also to unwind from that stress, Rivera enjoys going to the beach, boating and traveling when he's not working. A dog lover, he volunteers his time at a local dog rescue group that has rescued, treated and found new homes for over 100 abandoned dogs. He has two dogs of his own that he likes to take to the park every chance he gets. He is also a big Yankees fan!
Det. Efrain Torres was born in Cuba and moved to Southern Florida at the age of five. After serving in the Marine Corps for 22 years, he joined the Ogle County Sheriff's Office in 1996 and then transferred to the Broward Sheriff's Office in 2001. He worked various units such as Canine, Field Training, Road Patrol, Highway and Robbery. In 2007, he moved to the Homicide Unit.
Having served in the military, Torres felt that law enforcement was a natural transition for him. "I like the service," he says. "I like the fact that I can do something positive for someone." Early on, he aspired to become a Detective in Homicide because of the challenging nature of the job. When he arrives at a scene, "I just put on my homicide hat and look for what I need to investigate this death - not everyone can do it." Torres attributes his ability to handle the graphic nature of a crime scene to his time spent in the Marines and the combat zones that he saw first-hand.
Torres says that he could not be a good Detective without the support of his wife and three kids who understand that he may be gone for multiple days at a time working a case. When he is not working, he enjoys boating, traveling, scuba diving and fishing.
Born in Staten Island, NY, Det. Bryan Tutler has lived in Fort Lauderdale, FL since relocating with his family at the start of high school. He was inspired to become a Police Officer by his mother who worked at the Sheriff's Office. "It seemed like something I would be good at. I saw the things you could do to make a difference." Before coming to Homicide in 2012, Tutler worked in the Department of Detention, Road Patrol and Criminal Investigations investigating all crimes ranging from Burglary to Attempted Homicide. He is also a 7 year veteran of the BSO Dive Rescue Team.
Det. Tutler finds that homicide investigations can be difficult for all parties involved. "I don't show a lot of emotion," he says, "but my emotions regarding the homicide are displayed in my compassion towards the victim's family and my dedication to arresting those responsible." He believes that the challenge of investigating homicides is its own reward because of the responsibility it entails. Working with victims' families is extremely important to Tutler, because he is "the last voice for the victim."
In order to relax outside the office, Tutler is an accomplished SCUBA diver, a skill that is sometimes called on by the Broward Sheriff's Office. He also enjoys fishing, working out and going to Miami Dolphins games. He lives with his wife and dog, and enjoys spending time and going out with family and friends.