Miami, FL, March, Wednesday, 22nd, 2023 (By Maria Herrera Mellado *). Keiser University student, Stephanie Brown, has had one goal for her future since she was a child, to make a difference in her community and keep people safe. “Ever since I was younger, I always wanted to be a homicide detective. I’ve always had this passion for law enforcement,” Brown said. “I enjoy helping people. I’ve always felt like, if I can make a difference in just one person’s life, then I’ve done something in life, I’ve accomplished something.”
Brown began her career in law enforcement at the age of 19, working in corrections in her hometown of Gadsden County. After attending the Law Enforcement Academy, Brown was hired by the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office where she has worked for the last four years. “My primary assignment is a bailiff. I’m in charge of the safety and security of the judges and the courthouse personnel,” Brown said. “I have worked patrol, I’ve had the opportunity to do school resource, I’ve had the opportunity to assist in the criminal investigation division, and I’ve helped out in our communications center, which is our dispatch center.”
While training for a multitude of departments within the agency has allowed her to become a well-rounded deputy, Brown says that one opportunity, has allowed her to also set an example for future generations of female law enforcement officers: she is the first female on the Gadsden County SWAT Team.
“It’s just something that I wanted to do, I went after it, and I achieved my goal. To me, that’s a huge accomplishment,” Brown said. “When we think of law enforcement, we think of a male-dominated career, but women can do the same things as men can do. It is just rewarding to be able to give the younger generation, especially younger females, something to look forward to. Maybe if they see me, they’ll be like, well she accomplished this, I can do this. Anything is possible, I don’t have to limit myself.”
Eliminating the boundaries of her own limitations, Brown is now enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree program at Keiser University Tallahassee (https://www.keiseruniversity.edu/criminal-justice-ba/). She says she chose Keiser because of its flexible class schedule, allowing her to continue working for the sheriff’s office. The Gadsden County deputy is also a recipient of the Effective Access to Student Education (EASE) Grant. The $2,000 grant is provided to eligible Florida residents attending a private college or university. Brown says the money helps her to continue following her dreams of earning a degree, and allows her to focus on her schoolwork, instead of her finances. “It alleviates the stress of the financial burden that you have,” Brown said. “Anything helps.” Once Brown earns her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice, she plans to continue working in law enforcement, and eventually working her way up to be a homicide detective.
Her ultimate goal, however, is to continue working to ensure that her community is a better place and to start new community-based programs that improve the lives of Gadsden County residents. Getting a degree is Brown’s way of ensuring that she won’t miss out on future opportunities that will build the road toward her goal. “I really just want to be able to help my community, think of ways to better my community,” Brown said. “This degree allows you to get promoted, to have opportunities you might not necessarily have if you didn’t have a degree.”
Brown is positioned well to achieve her law enforcement goals. Florida is currently seeing a government-sponsored push to make Florida the most law enforcement friendly state in the country. Last year, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law legislation, HB3, which encourages citizens to join the law enforcement field and incentivizes out-of -state law enforcement professionals to pursue work in Florida. Citing the bill’s provisions for financial scholarships and bonuses as proof that Florida is willing to take. Florida’s dedication to supporting the field of law enforcement, Gov. DeSantis is showing that his administration is “putting our money where our mouth is.”
Keiser University is a private, independent, non-profit university serving nearly 20,000 students at 21 Florida campuses, online, and two international sites. Co-founded in 1977 by Chancellor Arthur Keiser ( https://www.career.org/art-keiser.html ), Ph.D., and Evelyn Keiser, Keiser University currently offers more than 100 degrees from associate to the doctoral level. Keiser University is a designated Hispanic-Serving Institution, a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and was ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in providing Social Mobility by
U.S. News and World Report (https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/keiser-university-21519) in 2023.
(*) South Florida Attorney, Policy and Legal Analyst