2020 Officer of the Year
Detective Mark Dunnam
Plant City Police Department
On April 25, 2019, Detective Dunnam was assigned a case wherein the victim reported that he had been held against his will, beaten, and forced to withdraw money from his bank account. In addition, it was learned that the suspects had stolen his vehicle. On June 10, 2019, Detective Dunnam was assigned another case wherein the victim reported that he had been forced to withdraw money from his bank account, beaten and held against his will by unknown suspects. Detective Dunnam immediately recognized that these cases seemed eerily similar. Both victims spoke only Spanish, had come to the United States illegally, and were hesitant to come forward to report the crime in fear of deportation. Detective Dunnam had to gain their trust in order to find out exactly what had happened.
Once their trust was obtained, Detective Dunnam learned that their fate was far worse than what had been originally reported. The victims had actually not just been beaten and robbed but had been tortured, having had their heads shaved and were repeatedly burned with cigarettes.
Detective Dunnam learned that both victims had been lured to a specific address by a Hispanic female they had met via social media. Both believed that they were going to have a romantic encounter with the female they had befriended. The victims reported that they met the female in the driveway of the residence and upon entering the residence; they were beaten to the point of unconsciousness, robbed, tortured, and held against their will.
Due to Detective Dunnam’s compassion and unbiased pursuit of justice, he was subsequently able to identify five individuals, two Hispanic males, one Caucasian male, one Hispanic female and one Caucasian female who were the perpetrators on these horrific crimes.
Subsequent investigation determined that there were additional victims as well.
Currently all five suspects have been incarcerated. The Hispanic males, responsible for the torture and robberies, are each facing in excess of 30 years of incarceration, primarily due to their previous criminal histories. Both females have indicated their desire to cooperate with law enforcement and have been helping Detective Dunnam identify additional victims. Due to the horrific nature of these crimes, all parties involved in these crimes are expected to serve extensive prison sentences.
Detective Dunnam has been with the Plant City Police Department for 11 years. He is married and has one son.