Talon Youngman has always wanted to help people and found the way to his passion in the Glades County Sheriff’s Office.
Youngman is the first Seminole and Native American in the department; he joined in 2017 and was promoted to sergeant last month.
“I can’t believe no one else put in for it; I get to blaze a trail wherever I go,” said Youngman, 23. “Wanting to help people is just something that’s always been there. It’s not something you can put into words; you’re probably born with it.”
Sheriff David Hardin pinned a new badge on Youngman during a ceremony Oct. 28 as his parents Rita and Frank Youngman watched proudly.
“He is a very conscientious young man, his heart is in his community,” said Hardin. “He’s a great deputy and has the personality to bond with the community. That’s something I look for because I’m very community oriented in our approach to law enforcement. He is a good fit.”
The Glades County Sheriff’s Office consists of 16 deputies and four sergeants who patrol the county in rotating 12 hour shifts.
Youngman leads the team of three deputies on the overnight shift, although he has worked on the day shift.
He said the day shift is typically filled with delayed calls about burglaries and fraud. The overnight shift has more in-progress calls such as domestic violence and break-ins occurring in real time.
“You get to find the suspicious people in places they shouldn’t be and can stop a crime from happening,” said Youngman. “Anytime I can deter a crime, it’s always fantastic. You keep someone’s peace of mind when you prevent that from happening.”
Earning the promotion to sergeant includes meeting certain qualifications and passing a written test with questions about administrative duties, disciplinary actions, documenting reports and other daily responsibilities.
“Sergeant Youngman came in at the top of his group,” Hardin said. “He is responsible for the day to day safety of his shift. They come on whole and healthy and we like to send them home that way.”
In addition to his responsibilities as sergeant, Youngman is a certified firearms instructor, general instructor, radar operator and other things that complement his ability to do the job. He said the best part of the job is all the people he gets to meet.
“Granted, sometimes they aren’t the best people, but other times you meet the best of people,” said Youngman. “You get to learn how you fit into the picture, how the county works and how you can make everyone safer. I also enjoy how I can still help my people from Brighton. I can help Seminole Police Department out when they need anything and they are always willing to help me. Out here in the middle of nowhere, we always help each other.”
The population of Glades County is about 13,600 year-round, but balloons to about 25,000 during the winter season. However, the sheriff’s department doesn’t increase its numbers during the season so each deputy learns to be adaptable.
“We have a pretty big county for four people to cover,” Youngman said. “You learn a lot about how to be a Swiss Army knife cop because we don’t have specialized units. We have to do property crimes, vehicle thefts, battery, animal cruelty and keep the cattle from getting out on the roads. You have to have a pretty varied tool belt.”
Youngman, who grew up in Venus and Lake Placid, has roots in the Brighton Reservation where his grandmother Mabel Tichenor lives.
His family has a small cow/calf operation, his father has an orange grove trimming business and his brother has a 300 acre orange grove.
Youngman comically calls himself the “black sheep” of the family.
“He is very well respected among his peers and always eager to lend a hand,” said Hardin. “He and I share a great fondness for firearms so we have a lot to talk about when we get together. He’s an avid hunter.”
The future is bright for this young sergeant, the youngest in the department.
Youngman would like to get a lot more experience and would love to eventually serve his Tribe in the Seminole Police Department.
He believes he chose the right profession.
“Law enforcement is fantastic, you can build a retirement just in case the Tribal money goes away one day,” Youngman said. “There is no guarantee that it will always be there. This is an honorable trade. You hear every elder say to always have something to fall back on and don’t take what you have for granted. That always stuck with me.”