Lexington County Deputy Torrell Jones knew he wanted to work in law enforcement at an early age.
Jones has family members in law enforcement, including his mom who is a retired officer. She would drive her patrol car home, and he would get in it to listen to the radio and see the lights, which hooked him as a child.
“She likes to help people and give back to the community, which kind of got me wanting to do the same thing,” Jones said.
Jones previously worked as a traffic deputy and has served the county since 2015. He started his dream job as a K-9 handler in October 2020.
Jones credits the Sheriff’s Department’s Explorer program as a major steppingstone in his career. He participated in the program while earning his criminal justice degree at Midlands Tech, which enhanced his experience at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.
“You basically get your foot in the door and learn everything that a real police officer does, just in a training aspect,” Jones said. “They actually taught me everything I needed to know before even going to the academy, so they set me up for success to be a good deputy.”
Jones must be readily available on a daily basis as a K-9 handler, working with the dog and assisting deputies as he backs them up on calls. He conducts property checks, traffic stops and monitors the radio channels for K-9 requests.
But working his way up to the K-9 Unit did not come easy. Jones started out as a patrol deputy in 2015 and was transferred to field training officer, where he trained deputies for two years. He then moved up to the Traffic Division, which was his second career option after the K-9 Unit.
Jones took advantage of opportunities for tremendous growth at the Sheriff’s Department, but these opportunities are something he noticed early on during the Explorer program.
“The leadership role this agency has is very outstanding, and they will pretty much give you everything they know to make you a better deputy,” Jones said. “The bonding of this agency is very good. You bond with the shift. The shift makes y’all become best friends as you meet a lot of people here.”
The next step was waiting for a K-9 position to open, which earned him more experience in the Traffic Division.
“It usually takes somebody to retire or a new position to come open, so I had to kind of wear out my time a little bit to see if one of the spots opened up,” Jones said. “I had been at the agency for almost six years, so I felt it was a good amount of time for me to learn.”
Those six years of learning paid off, as Jones now finds himself putting smiles on family’s faces and removing tears from their eyes when bringing home a missing child or a missing elderly citizen.
“There’s nothing better than a good feeling to say, ‘Hey, we found the person that’s missing and we’ve got your loved one,’” Jones said. “It’s just a breathtaking experience…you can hear a pin drop almost.”
Jones also loves checking in with children out playing in neighborhoods, instilling trust in law enforcement early on.
“Once you go out and see that community, they see a deputy out there and feel safer,” Jones said. “Law enforcement is out here to help you and not hurt you.”
After six years of paying his dues to achieve the ultimate goal, Jones doesn’t see himself leaving the K-9 unit anytime soon.
“I’m thinking I’m going to be the old sergeant that probably retires on K-9.”