Airman by day, deputy by night

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
Instead of taking off his uniform and kicking off his boots after a long day of work, one Airman from Avon Park Air Force Range, Fla., donned another uniform to head off to training for his next job. It took him 11 months of training five and six days a week at South Florida State College to earn the 770 contact hours to graduate from the criminal justice academy.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Jefferson, Det. 1, 23d Wing Avon Park ground safety manager, swore in as a reserve II deputy sheriff for Polk County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) in Southeast District, Lake Wales, Fla., Nov. 1.

"There are plenty of active duty members who work part-time jobs. However, there are very few who are employed part-time in law enforcement due to the extensive training requirements of a deputy sheriff or police officer," said Jefferson. "You can, however, often find guard and reserve members who are employed full-time in law enforcement."

The 11 months of training included physical fitness, legal, defensive tactics, firearms and investigations. Jefferson said the training was challenging but ultimately helped him improve his Air Force fitness requirements.

"Academy training was mentally and physically demanding," he said. "By far the most challenging aspect was balancing work during the day and attending the academy almost every night including some weekends. Doing this for nearly a year was very taxing on my family, but it was well worth it in the end."

Although working full-time as an Airman has its challenges, military life also has a unique set of benefits for Jefferson.

"He [Jefferson] was the class leader," said Richard Morey, South Florida State College Criminal Justice Academy coordinator. "We assign a class leader and rank structure in training to get the students used to that aspect of law enforcement. Most people are not used to that, but because of his military experience he was already comfortable with it."

Even after training at the academy, Jefferson was required to complete additional training requirements for PCSO. He used leave and worked weekends to complete the training, which included classroom instruction, firearms, non-lethal weapons, crime scene investigations and use of force.

After completion of training, Jefferson's busy schedule has eased up, but he still encounters the many challenges of living two lives.

"The biggest challenge is transitioning from military on day shift during the week to deputy on night shift on the weekends," he said. "Also having to attend court hearing during the week because of an arrest or traffic stop you made can sometimes present a challenge."

Jefferson said he enjoys the opportunity to give back to his community. His supervisor, Master Sgt. John Brown, agreed and mentioned how important a good relationship with the community is.

"I think it's a good thing," said Brown. "Especially with us being such a small unit out here, it really helps enhance our relationship with Polk County and the local area."

Morey, coordinator for the academy Jefferson attended, became good friends with Jefferson said he was proud of Jefferson for serving his country and community.

"He is very quiet and even tempered," said Morey. "He seemed to be a good class leader and did well academically and practically. He applied himself, came in with an open mind and a desire to do well.

"He has a strong desire to do the right thing, whether serving his country or his community."