From Staff Reports and the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office
Last week, Sheriff Dennis Lemma was sworn in for his second term as Seminole County Sheriff. A small group of family and colleagues joined Lemma as retired Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger administered the Oath of Office during a private ceremony held in the Sheriff’s office.
Lemma’s first term started in January 2017, after Sheriff Eslinger’s retirement, who served in the role for 26 years. Lemma is the 10th Sheriff in the 108-year history of Seminole County and has served with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office for nearly 29 years.
Sheriff Dennis Lemma started serving the community long before he came to Seminole County. He began by joining the United States Marine Corps to serve our national community, and after having served his time, was honorably discharged. This was just the beginning.
Lemma attended Columbia College where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration, and then went on to receive a Master of Arts degree in Administrative Leadership from the University of Oklahoma. Lemma also became a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, as well as of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Chief Executive Institute in Tallahassee, Florida.
In 1992 Lemma began his career with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) as a Correctional Officer and four years later was selected as a Deputy Sheriff. He served as a School Resource Deputy and a Crimes Against Children Investigator before receiving a promotion to Sergeant of the Special Operations Section in 2002. Four more years and he was promoted again to Lieutenant in the Community Services Division where he managed the agency’s crime prevention efforts, served as the Public Information Officer, and coordinated programs to assist the elderly and domestic violence victims. In 2008, Lemma was promoted to Captain and tasked with management of the uniformed patrol division, property crime investigations, traffic safety and code enforcement. In 2011, he was appointed to Major of the Department of Neighborhood Policing. In this role, he oversaw the operation of five divisions including uniformed patrol, Special Operations, Juvenile Enforcement and Intervention, Public Affairs and Community Services. In 2014, he was appointed to Chief Deputy where he led operational and administrative functions for more than 1,200 members of the Sheriff’s Office.
Just 24 years after joining the SCSO, in 2016 Lemma was elected Sheriff, stepping into this position on January 3, 2017. As Sheriff, Lemma’s primary focus has been on directing the agency’s enforcement, investigative, correctional, juvenile, and support services.
As a community leader, Lemma has been honored and awarded for his leadership and engagement with the Community Service Award recipient; Hugh Thomas Excellence Award recipient; and Puerto Rican Award recipient, 2018.
Lemma is a supporting member of several community organizations such as Aspire Healthcare Board of Directors; Central Florida Homeless Coalition Executive Board; Central Florida Crimeline Board of Directors; FBI National Academy Associates (FBINAA); International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP); Large Jail Network; Major County Sheriffs of America; National Sheriffs Association; Police Executive Research Forum (PERF); Kids House of Central Florida Board of Directors; Boy Scouts of America Central Florida Council; and Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute Board of Directors.
The Lemma Family – including Diana, his wife, and their two sons Dylan and Dayne – has resided in Seminole County for nearly 26 years. Both boys attend Seminole County Public Schools, and the family enjoys regularly visiting local theme parks, traveling, and attending sporting events together.