Zena Stephens was re-elected Sheriff of Jefferson County, Texas on November 3, 2020. She has 30 years of extensive experience in law enforcement management and operations. Stephens is a dynamic leader who has established a professional culture at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. She leads by example, and encourages others to get training so that they can continue to improve. She is passionate about making a difference in the community and helping others. She understands that enhancing diversity is important in improving relationships by building trust between law enforcement and the community. She is dedicated to recruiting, hiring, and promoting professional leaders that reflect diversity within the community.
Since becoming Sheriff, she operates a 43-million-dollar budget. She has added a fulltime mental health staff within the correctional facility and a discharge planner to connect inmates with outside resources upon release, increased the number of deputies on patrol, and assigned school resource officers in Fannett schools with no increase in cost to taxpayers, had the lowest property crime rates since 2016, and reduced overtime budget by more than 1.5 million dollars. Stephens is also committed to re-entry training and trade programs that help inmates prepare for release.
Stephens began her law enforcement career in 1989 with the Beaumont Police Department where she worked for 7 years. She worked at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office in various management roles for 19 years. In 2013, Zena Stephens became the first female Chief of Police at Prairie View A & M University. .
Zena Stephens has earned many community awards and has been recognized across the country for her law enforcement accomplishments. She serves on the Criminal Justice Advisory Board for Lamar University, Spindletop Mental Health Advisory Board, Texas Council of Family Violence Board, HIDTA Executive Board, Texas Southern University School of Public Affairs Advisory Board, Family Services Board, and Jefferson County Bail Bond Board. She is a member of the Links Inc., National Sheriff’s Association, NAACP, Texas Sheriff’s Association, and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Officers Association, Triangle Caucus, Southeast Texas Democratic Women, and Domestic Violence Task Force.
Zena Stephens was the first African American Female Major and Deputy Chief at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. She was also the first African American Female Chief of Police at Prairie View A & M University. Zena Stephens is the first African American and the first female Sheriff in the history of Jefferson County, Texas.
Zena Stephens made history again when she became the first African American Female Sheriff in the State of Texas.