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Honoring Commitments Near and Far

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Sheriff Dennis Lemma shares 2018 State of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.

In 2018, I’m proud to tell you we honored our commitment to reduce crime and the fear of crime.

In fact, Seminole County experienced a 15 percent year-to-year decrease in the most serious crimes that affect our quality of life, despite the fact that our population continues to grow. Nearly half a million residents now call our beautiful county home. Part of the decrease in crime can be attributed to our commitment to countywide community policing. 

We honored another one of our most sacred commitments again and again: saving lives. In dozens of instances, our deputies deployed the opioid inhibitor narcan to save people who were overdosing. With the emergence of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is often used as an additive to illicit street drugs like heroin and cocaine, fatal overdoses continue to be a challenge. In 2018, Seminole County experienced 82 fatal overdoses, compared to 83 in 2017. Just one more is too many. 

We know that many victims started using opioids as legally-prescribed pain medication. This is my number one public safety concern. As the appointed Chairman of the Statewide Working Group for Opioid Abuse, Attorney General Ashley Moody has tasked me with coming up with new and innovative ways to fight this challenge. We are already pursuing numerous strategies to do just that. At the end of last year, we took down two criminal networks dealing fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine locally. We are charging drug dealers with homicide when we can link them to fatal overdose cases. 

In the wake of Hurricane Michael and the massive devastation it brought to our Panhandle region last October, we deployed a team of 30 deputies to patrol the streets and provide food, water, and clothing to residents in Calhoun County. During the holidays, we organized a toy and school supply drive for the children of that region. When two deputies were shot and killed in Gilchrist County just west of Gainesville, we sent personnel to patrol the streets and help plan the funeral for the two fallen heroes. 

Closer to home, in 2018 we committed to taking on public safety dispatch services for residents in the city of Lake Mary. We are now dispatching for six of seven local municipalities. With the help of funding from the Board of County Commission, we added an extra school resource deputy at each of our largest public high schools. Events like Shop with the Sheriff and Christmas Village ensured that our underserved children received the clothing and school supplies they need. The Halloween Spooktacular brought positive interactions with thousands of local adults and children as well.

In 2018, we honored our commitment to local history, by unearthing the story behind a century-old deputy sheriff badge returned to us by a resident who’d found it. Through a good deal of researching, we discovered badge #6 had been issued to the second man ever deputized in Seminole County, A.A. Moran. The badge is now on display at the Museum of Seminole County History. The video we produced earned the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office its first regional Emmy award in our 105-year history! 
Thank you for helping us honor our commitments to public service, reducing crime, and curbing the fear of crime in our community.

Sheriff Dennis M. Lemma, now in his second year leading the agency, is the 10th sheriff in the history of Seminole County. As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, Sheriff Lemma directs the agency’s enforcement, investigative, correctional, judicial, juvenile and support services.

 

 

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