Seminole County sheriff lowers minimum age for detention deputies in hopes of filling positions

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma has lowered the age requirement for those looking to become detention deputies at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility to 18.


Lemma said lowering the age limit will help him fill 40 vacant jobs at the jail.

“40 is a is a big number for me,” Lemma said.

Like agencies all over Central Florida and across the country, the competition between law enforcement agencies to fill positions is fierce.  Years ago, his agency would offer detention deputy positions to sheriff deputy candidates who were not selected.

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“More of the attitude is no, you know what, I’ll go 5 miles up the road to the next police department and the next sheriff’s office because if you’re not hiring for these positions, I can promise you they will likely to be hired,” said Lemma who hopes by offering conditional job offers to 18-year-olds he can now fill those jobs.

“We hope that the idea of having an 18-year-old that can pull down a $50,000 a year salary, with benefits at that age is going to be incredibly attractive for a lot of people. And the more people that apply the greater opportunity we have to kind of weed through them and find out who is it right for,“ Lemma said.

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Lemma said those who make it can move up and become deputy sheriff’s or even higher. Lemma himself started out as a detention deputy.

“And it was, it was wonderful for me, because it teaches interpersonal skills. It teaches relationship building, and then kind of move on from that,” Lemma said. “And besides the rigorous background checks, you will also be trained.  But you’re likely to be working and earning a paycheck within seven weeks from the moment that you walk in the door. And as an 18-year-old, I mean, that’s absolutely quite remarkable to kind of get that done.”

Prospective candidates are encouraged to apply here.

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Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.

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