Seminole County sheriff talks agency diversity, opioid crisis

Sheriff Dennis Lemma joins News 6 anchor Justin Warmoth

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office has been quietly putting an emphasis on hiring women for non-traditional roles in law enforcement.

In fact, Sheriff Dennis Lemma told anchor Justin Warmoth on “The Weekly” that women now make up 50% of the agency’s executive command staff.

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SCSO also just welcomed the first-ever female member to the agency’s Underwater Search and Rescue Team.

“Jenn Litteral is a supervisor here at our agency and works in our forensic section, but really has taken on this additional responsibility to join the team and has done remarkable work,” Lemma said. “It’s incredibly demanding to join the Search and Rescue Team. These are expert swimmers who have to maintain top physical condition to get into murky, unknown waters, and sometimes they’re in there for extended periods of time.”

Sheriff Lemma discussed the ongoing fight against the opioid crisis as well.

According to a new study published in The Lancet, more than 1.2 million additional people across North America are expected to die of opioid overdoses by 2029 if dramatic interventions are not taken. That’s more than double the number of deaths seen over the last two decades.

In 2021, Seminole County saw 852 overdoses, including 125 resulting in death, but Sheriff Lemma said the agency is seeing a 90% decrease in overdose deaths year to date.

“We are optimistic that our comprehensive strategy here is working out,” Lemma said. “We don’t know what the long-term numbers are going to be this year, but we’re incredibly optimistic that we’re doing all we can to make sure we can combat this.”

Watch the full interview in the video player above.

About the Author:

Justin Warmoth joined News 6 in February 2013 as our Brevard County reporter. In March of 2016, after anchoring the weekend mornings since August of 2015, Justin was promoted to weekday morning anchor. You can catch him Monday through Friday mornings from 5-7 a.m. and at noon.