Meet Hendry County Sheriff’s Deputy Stephanie Bozzi

Stephanie Bozzi was born and raised in Fort Myers, Florida. She attended Edison Park Elementary, Lee Middle and Lehigh Senior High School.

Deputy Stephaine Bozzi.

After graduating from high school, Bozzi thought long and hard about enlisting in the United States Army. After seeing her dad’s reaction to the interview being done by the recruitment officer, she quickly changed her mind. Being the youngest child from a very close-knit family, Bozzi felt it would be too hard on her dad if she enlisted. It was a tough decision, but one she is glad she made.

Having grown up across the street from the police academy in Lee County, Bozzi found that she was always fascinated and intrigued by law enforcement. She enjoyed watching the officers in training and hearing the sounds of the sirens. However, after completing high school, she didn’t feel like she was ready to take on such a huge challenge.

Bozzi enrolled at the former Edison Community College and attended classes for a year. Realizing she needed to take a little time to find herself and figure out who she wanted to be, she took a job doing administrative work for a steel company in Ft. Myers. She worked there for approximately six years. She then decided to work for another steel company. Unfortunately the economy took a downward spiral, and after three years of employment with this company her position was cut.

It was perhaps a blessing in disguise. Bozzi was eight months pregnant when she found herself out of work. Fortunately she was able to stay at home for the next two years and raise her young son. This gave her time to consider the next step in her career. Did she want to go back to performing administrative work, or was it time to revisit the idea of becoming a cop.

Indeed, law enforcement was calling her name. The interest in this profession prompted Bozzi to enroll at Southwest Florida Criminal Justice Academy in Fort Myers where she received her certification in law enforcement. With the economy still struggling and a hiring freeze in effect for the state of Florida, finding work was a challenge. Being determined, Bozzi did not let that detour her plans.

In September of 2010, after applying at several locations, Deputy Bozzi finally landed a position with the Clewiston Police Department working road patrol. She patrolled, protected and served the streets of the local community for nearly three years. Local folks would often see her driving slowly throughout the neighborhoods checking doors and windows or looking for anything suspicious that just didn’t feel right. Although she enjoyed her job, she still wanted to learn more about the different aspects of law enforcement.

Thanks in part to a grant, a School Resource Officer (SRO) position opened up with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office and LaBelle Elementary School in December of 2013. Deputy Bozzi quickly applied. This was a job she had always wanted to do, but thought it would come much later in her career after she had obtained more experience. Fortunately, Bozzi got the job, and as they say, the rest is history.

One of the things Deputy Bozzi enjoys most about being the SRO at LaBelle Elementary is the fact that no two days are ever the same. The scope of her day is dictated by whatever issues may arise. Her duties include monitoring the parent drop off and pick up loop, meeting and greeting faculty, staff, parents and students, walking the campus to check for any issues, monitoring her radio, voice mails and emails, completing necessary paperwork, managing various safety issues as well as being able to assist wherever she is needed. Some days, Deputy Bozzi will be found reading with youngsters in the school library or in the classrooms. Other days, she may be teaching a life skill lesson on drug prevention or kindness.

Being bilingual has been a huge communication asset for students, teachers and parents. Deputy Bozzi spends a good amount of time on the phone speaking with parents, many of whom do not speak English. She keeps in touch with former students and acts as a mentor for those in need too. She wants children and adults to recognize that even though she is a cop, she is first and foremost a human. Given her upbringing, Deputy Bozzi can relate to many of the issues that students and parents are facing on a daily basis. Her “open-door” policy allows easy access for students, parents and teachers who need her assistance.

Along with other faculty and staff members at LES, Deputy Bozzi participates in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E) program, the Child Safety Matters program, and the Kind Campaign. She regularly teaches anti-bullying skills as well. She is proud to watch the students earn Dolphin Dollars that can be spent on prizes or participation in the Positive Behavior Support (PBS) celebrations.

Working full-time and raising her young son takes away a big chunk of Deputy Bozzi’s spare time. However, when possible, she enjoys all types of sports, music, dancing, traveling and even takes a stab at cooking when the mood strikes.

A fun fact about Deputy Bozzi is that her love for music was instrumental in her desire to play the drums in the marching band during middle and high school. Was it a challenge? Of course! But, as Deputy Bozzi stated “I got a suntan, and a great workout every day which allowed me to eat two slices of pizza instead of one.” She believes another part of the reason she connected to the marching band was because of the required structure, stamina, rigor and somewhat military style that was required to perform.

Deputy Bozzi reiterated the following point twice during this interview. She stated “If I’m in a bad mood, I can come here and get love from all of these kids, and that can completely turn my day around.” This SRO is a true inspiration who often wears several hats throughout each and every day. Yes, she is a law enforcement officer above all else, but she is also a teacher, a mentor and friend. The LaBelle Elementary School family is blessed to have Deputy Bozzi on their team.

Amanda can be reached at cbnews@newszap.com

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