Volunteer Sheriff's Service Officers take oath in Polk - WFLA News Channel 8

Volunteer Sheriff's Service Officers take oath in Polk

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POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Twenty new civilian volunteers are sworn in and ready to hit the streets as Polk County Sheriff's Service Officers or SSO's.  The inaugural group attended a swearing-in ceremony at Polk Sheriff's Office headquarters Wednesday. 

In many ways the SSO's will look like real deputies.  They'll wear uniforms, drive marked cars and sport Sheriff's Office badges.  What sets them apart though is that they won't be interacting with criminal suspects.

"We're going to be involved in enforcing the laws for the sheriff's office as long as it doesn't involve a bad guy that puts us in danger," explained volunteer Dennis Lunvstedt.  

Sheriff Grady Judd says the move to use unpaid, volunteer SSO's is a budget necessity.  Federal grant money that had been used to fund eight paid civilian positions is drying up. 

"This is all about doing more with less," Judd said.  But he cautions the SSO's responsibility will not exceed their training.

"This is a non-enforcement job.  They won't be arresting anyone.  They won't be confronting anyone to make an arrest.  They'll simply be working minor, fender bender crashes, minor vandalism where suspects aren't present, minor petit thefts where suspects aren't present," Judd said.

This first crop of SSO's has already been through 80 hours of classroom training and will soon hit the road for more.

"The next 80 hours will be working with an assigned, sworn deputy," said volunteer David Hutchinson.

Eventually the volunteers will work on their own lightening the load of sworn deputies.

"They're job is simply to serve and provide a better quality in the community," said Judd.

 

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