Print page

Steve Lester

Distinguished Alumnus May 2018

Steve Lester received a Polk State Associate in Science in Criminology in 1982, and a Polk State Associate in Arts in 1983. After graduating, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminology from the University of Florida in 1999, and a Master of Public Administration from Troy State University in 2007.

Today, Lester serves as Chief of Staff for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) and is second-in-command of the agency. He acts as Sheriff in all regards during the Sheriff’s absence. Lester has served as Chief of Staff for seven years, overseeing 1,700 employees in daily operations. He has served in various positions over his 31 years at the Sheriff’s Office, during which he has worked closely with his longtime mentor and friend, Sherriff Grady Judd.

Born in West Virginia as the third of four children, Lester’s parents met in a coal-mining town, with his father working in the coal plant and his mother working in the coal company’s store. Seeking a better life, Steve’s father left the company and first moved the family to Georgia, and then eventually settled in Winter Haven.

Lester joined the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in 1986 as a detention deputy sheriff. He rose through the ranks from Corporal to Chief Commander for the Department of Detention before his appointment as Chief of Staff in 2010. A career highlight came in being selected to attend the FBI National Academy in Virginia. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, Session 240.

Among his many professional and community affiliations, Lester is a member of the Polk County Police Chiefs Association, the Police Executive Research Forum, the Polk State College Training Advisory Committee, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Rotary Club of Winter Haven. He is also a graduate of Leadership Polk: Class II. Steve is married to wife Alisha and they have two children, Hannah and Jenna.