Clay County Sheriff’s Office

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Homegrown – Sheriff Michelle Cook’s new initiative aims to recruit local young people to the CCSO

There is a line of first first responders when someone calls 911: telecommunicators. Malynn Nooney holds that title at the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, and taking on that role was her dream when she graduated from Clay High School. “To put it simply, I wanted to help people,” she said, “I wanted to use my voice to make a difference.”

For Nooney, serving in that capacity in the county where she was raised adds another element to the job: it means that much more. “I am so fortunate to have been recruited by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office when I was in high school, through the Clay High School’s Criminal Justice Program,” she said, “They encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and take up an internship with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office Communications Section. I decided to do so and found my career.”

CCSO members stand behind a table at a recruiting event
Nooney, center, with other local graduate CCSO members at a high school recruiting event

Clay County’s newly elected sheriff Michelle Cook started looking at new avenues to recruit homegrown employees right from the start. “Local kids have a vested interest already built in,” Cook said, “They’ve grown up here, they’ve gone to school here, they’ve gone to church here. Their families are here. My job is to offer them a great place to work in an honorable profession, while serving their own community.”

“You have to have a passion to serve your community. I care so deeply about Clay County because for me, it's home."

Malynn Nooney, CCSO telecommunicator

From the agency’s website content and theme, to social media posts and direction, the idea is to create a climate to engage and encourage local young adults who aspire to join law enforcement – to stay local. “We’ve partnered with local high schools to showcase specific jobs at the sheriff’s office and geared our approach to interest young adults,” CCSO Recruiting Mentor Coordinator Jacob Hawkins said, “We also send job opportunities directly to the schools. We highlight civilian and sworn positions. Part of the initiative is to go to our local high schools’ sporting events. Members from all aspects of our agency, in uniform, come to these events and stage informational opportunities to engage kids in a different setting.”

“Our agency must reflect our community, and for those kids who aspire to join law enforcement, we must deliberately recruit them at a younger age and be competitive in regard to salary, benefits and opportunities, so they can serve right here at home,” Cook said.

For Nooney, she never knows what she’ll handle as she walks through the doors. But one thing she does know – she’s making a difference in the community where she grew up. “You have to have a passion to serve your community. I care so deeply about Clay County because for me, it’s home.”