SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA)- For the first time in its history, the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office is welcoming a detention deputy under the age of 21.

“It allows them to work in a controlled atmosphere to kind of see what we do day to day,” said Sgt. Tony Soddu, Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.

Last summer state lawmakers passed a bill that was signed into law to lower the minimum age for detention deputies from 21 to 18. Spartanburg County said they’re taking advantage of the new law and believe it’s a great change.

“Dylan Patterson, for example, who just started with us, who is pioneering the program for us, he said within 3 to 5 years he would like to be a patrol deputy,” said Sgt. Soddu. “This is going to give him a good feel to some people we encounter, how we work, how to wear the uniform, how to carry himself, and how to deal with people on a day-to-day basis.”

Sgt. Tony Soddu said starting earlier means being able to mold young men and women at an impressionable age. With the detention center falling under Sheriff Wright’s leadership, detention deputies see the same policies and protocol. Sgt. Soddu said this aids in their ability to decide what role they want to work towards as a career.

“One of the most important things we tell people is what we call their verbal judo, the ability to de-escalate and how to relate to people and communicate with people,” said Sgt. Soddu. “That’s a great setting to learn how to do that and it’s one of the most widely used tools they’re going to have out on the road.”

Detention deputies who are under 21 years old must be accompanied by certified officers who are over 21 years old at all times through the Sheriff’s Office policy.

The Sheriff’s Office said they’re actively recruiting more detention deputies right now with tours of the facility. If you or someone you know is interested in this opportunity, click here to reach out.