New West District Lieutenant, Jeff Dektas

89

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) is the law enforcement arm of Fort Myers Beach, with operations conducted out of the West District Office at 15650 Pine Ridge Road in South Fort Myers. The West District jurisdiction is from Fort Myers Beach south to Lovers Key State Park, advancing northeast to the Fowler Street / US 41 intersection, including most of McGregor Boulevard. It recently welcomed two new Lieutenants in Jeffery Dektas and Bryan Perera. “The Island Sand Paper” profiles Lieutenant Dektas this week, with the story on Lieutenant Perera in our July 5 edition that you can read at fortmyersbeach.news.

Military Background

“I have been with the LCSO for 13 years,” said Lieutenant Dektas. “I previously worked as a police officer in several small northern Kentucky departments before retiring. We then moved to Southwest Florida because my brother was here. My wife Judi and I are married 32 years, with three adult children: Laura, Brittany and Jeffery. We have five grandkids, with the girls and four grandkids in Kentucky, and Jeffery and one grandchild in the Tampa area.”

Prior to his police career, Lieutenant Dektas served in the Army for seven years. “I joined when I was 17-years-old because my brother was in the military, and I absolutely intended to serve for my entire career, but our parents were getting to be elderly and needed more attention, so I left to care for them. When you add it all together, between the Army and my various police departments and now the LCSO, I have been serving the public for 38 years! I have two degrees, in Criminal Justice and Public Communication, along with an Associate’s degree in Law Enforcement, all from North Kentucky University, and I graduated from the Kentucky Police Academy that is similar to the FBI Academy.”

Lieutenant Dektas always had a role model in his brother, who is ten years his senior. “I went into the military because he was in the military, and I chose the Army because he was in the Army! I absolutely loved the Army, as I was the perfect guy for the military – that lifestyle just fit me! Had Mom and Dad not needed my help, I am sure I would have spent my life there as a career man. I also had another brother between myself and my oldest brother, but for whatever reason, I was the one best suited to care of our parents, and you do what you need to do. When I left the military, though, law enforcement was my next logical occupation, so I became a cop!”

PFC Walter Thackerson

While you can take the cop out of the military, you can’t take the military out of the cop! “I remain very much involved in the POW/MIA program,” explained Lieutenant Dektas. “Around my wrist, every day, I wear a bracelet in memory of a man who I never met. While in the service in Hawaii, I learned about PFC Walter Thackerson, who was a member of my same unit, but many years before me. He was killed in Vietnam in May 1966, and although people saw him die, they could not retrieve his body to bring home, so in memory of that young Alabama man who gave his all for our nation and never returned, I began wearing the bracelet about 20 years ago, when we started gearing up for the Gulf War, and I have worn it ever since, as it appeals to my patriotic side.”

Lt-Dektas-Fort-Myers-Beach
Lieutenant Jeffery Dektas (L) with West District Commander Captain Matthew Herterick.

Lieutenant Dektas’ military and law enforcement career may be approaching four decades, but he is brand-new to the West District! “I have only been here for a few weeks, though I previously worked with West District Commander Captain Matthew Herterick at the Gulf District and Pine Island, so there is a comfort level and we are used to each other, although these are vastly different districts. The LCSO gave me this assignment, and I am happy to take on the responsibility and all the duties that come along with it, as I always enjoy a new challenge and like to do my fair share and more. So far, I am really enjoying my time here.”

One of his previous LCSO assignments was a three-year stint in the Public Information Office, serving under recently-retired Sheriff Mike Scott. “I never tired of working with Sheriff Scott,” the Lieutenant said with a huge smile! “No matter how many interviews I heard him give or public presentations or speaking engagements, his energy level remained off the charts, as it seemed he always had something interesting to say to everyone and that is a special ability. He was positive and gracious to everyone and I loved working for and with him. Working with the news media every day, however, just was not for me, so I asked for a transfer, but Sheriff Scott would not let me go until after he won his final election, imploring me to stay ‘until after the election!’ When he won that last time, I walked into his office and said, ‘it’s after the election!’”

Lieutenant Dektas’ West District duties include the bulk of the administrative work for Captain Herterick, “to make sure we get everything done on the District level and out in time, and I monitor most of the Day Shift. I go out on patrol as often as I can, as it is always nice to get away from the desk.”

Type A

What Lieutenant Dektas most enjoys about his new duties, however, is training his younger colleagues! “When you see them begin to understand what is going on, that is a great feeling, as it is as good for them as it is for the agency, and personally rewarding for me. Training is in my blood and has been since my military days, as I live to train others, so I hold that dear to me, no matter the topic. I always like to say that there is no one tougher to train than a young cop because they are all Type A Personalities who all seem to know everything, so that makes training interesting. But when you employ patience, then start to see them absorb it, and finally there is that ‘Oh Really’ moment, that is when you know that all your leadership pays off.”

Teaching, Lieutenant Dektas believes, “is about helping others to look at things from a different perspective, from the bottom to the top and back down to the bottom again, to see things that perhaps you have never seen before in situations that perhaps you see every day, so when they see the whole program, that is my ultimate reward. One of my favorite teaching tools is assigning the book, ‘Who Moved My Cheese.’ It is a tiny book, maybe 70 pages long that you can read in an hour, and people look at me like I am crazy, but they invariably come in the next day and talk about what a sea change it is in their lives, and I reply, ‘That’s why it was on the New York Times Best Sellers List forever!’ That is the favorite part of my job!”

He is still learning about Fort Myers Beach. “I have yet to experience a Spring Break and people say that can be a very challenging time for us as an agency, but when residents and businessowners work together with us, I have no doubt we will all be very successful.”

Truth At All Times

Lieutenant Dektas feels that his leadership abilities will greatly benefit the Fort Myers Beach community. “You understand that not everybody is a bad person and not everybody is a good person and you don’t judge people by how they look, and that you do judge them as individuals. You can see a person on the street who dresses like they don’t have a penny to their name and discover they are one of the greatest people you will ever meet, then see someone in a suit that costs hundreds of dollars and learn they are someone you should never trust or who you spend the next 45 minutes arguing with. Captain Herterick firmly believes that communication between the LCSO and the beach community is essential, and Fort Myers Beach citizens will soon learn that I am not afraid to tell them the truth at all times.”

When asked what the most rewarding part of his job is, he replied, “That is tough because there are so many rewarding aspects, but I would say it is the privilege of serving the public. Not everyone can do this job effectively and I worked hard for many years to be able to do it well. The LCSO is a great department and Captain Herterick runs a terrific district and lays out a good path to follow, so I look forward to being here and getting my feet wet. It will be a fun ride!”

 

By Gary Mooney
gary@fortmyersbeach.news