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Sheriff's Office graduates 100,000th junior deputy

By Justin Boron

Sometimes, Brown Elementary School student Lauren Anderson holds up her honorary Sheriff's Office badge and says, "Hold your hands up. I'm gonna arrest you."

But she said that's just make-believe. One day it could be real though.

Anderson, 10, said she wants to be a detective and doctor.

"I think it's cool to find out when people do bad things and I like to find out what they did to do it," she said.

Her badge, imagination, and aspirations come out of a junior deputy program that in its 33rd year of existence, graduated its 100,000th student since former Sheriff Robert Deyton implemented the youth crime prevention classes in 1971.

By chance, Anderson's name was number 100,000 on the list.

D.G. Lemacks, the county's sheriff from 1983 to 1997 and one of program's first teachers, personally awarded Anderson.

"That's a lot of boys and girls . . . touched over the years," Lemacks said.

Lemacks said the idea for junior deputies emerged when he was still a deputy, during a prisoner extradition with Deyton.

He said Deyton asked him to head up the research and get the program started.

Eventually, they came up with a curriculum that included fire safety, gun safety, peer pressure, and bicycle safety.

At the end the students would get an authentic badge and I.D.

The first year, when students graduated from E.J. Swint Elementary, there was no money in the budget for badges so they had to raise it through a fundraiser.

Every year after, the classes and badges were included in the sheriff's budget, Lemacks said.

Diana Ballard, the sheriff's deputy who oversees the program now, said this year almost 4,000 fourth graders got badges and certificates.

She said she tells the students, "It's real but it's not real enough to arrest you're little brother for picking on you."