With a degree in Criminal Justice peeking around the corner, Jermaine Scott doesn’t give grass an opportunity to grow under his feet. The husband, father of four boys ranging in age from 2½ to 15, Investigator with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, and NWFSC student leads a busy, busy life, but that’s how he’s made and it suits him just fine.
Born into a military family, Scott lived at a couple of bases in Arizona and Idaho before flying across the ocean to Air Force bases in England where the well-traveled teenager graduated from high school at Lakenheath AFB. Always active in sports, he played football (the American kind – not what Americans refer to as soccer but Europeans call football.) Playing defense on his high school team gave him the opportunity for more travel, not simply to other cities, but to other countries to play their American high school rivals. “I saw some really pretty places in Europe. Whether we won or lost our games, we were just glad for the opportunity to play in other countries,” he noted. Almost as soon as he had moved his high school graduation tassel from right to left, his family moved to Eglin AFB where he has remained. “This is home,” said Scott, “and I plan to stay at home.”
After coming to Northwest Florida, he was working at a local restaurant frequented by investigators working for the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. He got to know several of the investigators who saw his potential and motivated him in ways he had never considered. Initially, he was interested in studying architecture because he loved to draw buildings and other structures. “I’m an old-school artist,” he said. “I like to draw with a pen and pencil but wasn’t real excited about computer-aided drafting.” It’s at this point that the Sheriff’s Office investigators come into play.
Laura Keller-Lithgow was one of those investigators and urged Scott to begin classes at NWFSC’s Law Enforcement Academy where she also taught. It didn’t take too much thought for Scott to take up Keller-Lithgow on her challenge. He not only attended the academy, but graduated in 2003 and soon after discovered his passion.
Due to the untimely death of an investigator in the Crimes Against Children Unit, Scott was promoted into the vacancy and found that the work was exactly what he had been intended for. “I love kids. I have my own kids and am pretty good with kids, so this work is perfect for me. I see some pretty bad stuff, but know what I’m doing is helping in some way. I can’t take this work home with me because it would impact my family life, so I try to leave things at the office door and pick them up another day.”
Several years ago, Scott discovered he had acquired adult-onset diabetes which has altered his entire lifestyle. He’s been practicing martial arts for many years and finds that to be an aide in keeping himself healthy; he and his wife, Stephanie, and their kids also enjoy being outdoors, volunteering at their church and simply enjoying family time together.
Scott is a recipient of the Kelly and Denny Burke Family Scholarship established years ago with the NWFSC Foundation. From the outset, the Burke Family wanted to award non-traditional students. Jermaine Scott fits this scholarship description to a tee. He is an adult student, employed full-time in a pretty demanding, stressful career, as well as a family man, and he is the kind of person the Burkes had in mind when they established the scholarship. “I’m grateful to the Burke family for their assistance. I had the opportunity to meet Lt. Gen. and Mrs. Burke’s daughter, Beth, a couple of years ago and she told me she thought I was the first Criminal Justice major the family had awarded. That’s a great honor for me and my family.”
With scholarship support, his family’s support and a career he loves, Jermaine Scott is ready to see what the future holds in this place he calls “home.”