ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — This Black History Month, an Orange County Sheriff’s Office leader says she wants to pave the way for other women like her.

After her recent promotion, newly promoted Chief Deputy Denise Demps is taking a page in the Orange County history book, as the highest-ranking black woman in the sheriff’s office since its founding in 1845.


What do you want to know

  • Denise Demps is the highest ranked black woman in the history of the Orange Sheriff’s Office
  • Demps was recently promoted to deputy chief
  • Sheriff John Mina says the agency is improving diversity in its ranks
  • Engaging directly with the community is important, say Demps and Mina

As Demps unpacks the boxes and sets up the shelves in her new office, she reflects on how she came to this role since her debut in 1991.

“I decided to apply for the sheriff’s office…the only agency I applied for…because it’s the best,” Demps says, then laughs. “Thirty years is 10 years, so it goes by pretty quickly. I would say part of the culture that has changed is inclusivity.

There came a day when Demps said she believed she was paving the way for other young black women for the first time.

“They look at me to make decisions as a leader, not just the woman or the black woman,” she says.

Law enforcement has struggled with issues of diversity in its ranks for many years, Orange County Sheriff John Mina says, but he adds he thinks his department has made progress in this. domain.

“As for white MPs, they represent only 44% of our new recruits. So 20% African American, 29% Hispanic, 6% Asian,” Mina said.

However, he and Demps say direct community outreach is needed to continue recruiting diverse staff.

This is one area where Mina says Demps has immediate star quality.

“Denise is also very involved in the community,” says Mina. “She has one of those personalities where she can just reach out to any of our residents, especially our young people, and instant smiles appear.

Demps credits her courage to her family, especially her great-grandmother.

“She was telling us stories about what she would do and think, and no one can stop you from doing that, and I had the audacity to believe her,” Demps says.

Thus, with a new office, a new title and a new inspiration, she writes a new chapter in the history of the agency.

“Chief Demps is the most qualified person for this position, but the fact that she is now the highest ranked black woman in agency history is also something that should be celebrated as well,” Mina said. .

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