Sergeant Barbara Brown is a name well known in Hendry County. To some she is a friend, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. To others she is a humble public servant who has been an advocate for public education and safety for many years. To anyone who knows her – she is one in a million.
When Sergeant Brown retired on October 28, it was the culmination of over three decades of service to the citizens of Hendry County. A familiar face to many within the community, Brown leaves behind quite a resume.
Sergeant Brown was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She is a graduate of Miami Central High School. Sergeant Brown’s dream was to find her place in the field of law enforcement. After high school, she enrolled and graduated from Polk Community College’s Police Academy.
Sergeant Brown is married to Sidney Brown, and together they have raised five children: John, Shannon, Laura, Karen and Shanna. There are also ten beautiful grandchildren on her large family tree.
Looking for a place to settle and begin her career, Sergeant Brown moved to the small town of LaBelle. For the first four years of her career with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office, she worked as a non-paid volunteer within the Hendry County school system. It was at this time that she started the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Program that continues on to this day. Eventually, former Sheriff Sermon Dyess, Principal Scott Cooper and Vice Principal Jack Griesinger teamed together to hire Brown as the county’s first official School Resource Officer at LaBelle High School.
Sergeant Brown’s first paid job was working as a road patrol deputy in LaBelle. Although she loved her job, the daily challenges she faced began to take their toll. Needing a change of pace after many years of patrolling the roads, she altered her career path for a while, and went to work for the Division of Forestry.
Brown was later asked by the sheriff’s department to come back to Montura and serve as the community police officer. While there, she was injured in an accident while on the job and had to go on medical leave for about a year. When she was able to return to work, she went back to Forestry where she worked the fire tower at Keri Road and served as their Public Education Officer.
A little later in her career, the Lehigh Fire Department asked Brown to apply for their Public Information Education Officer (PIEO) position. Ready for another change, she happily accepted. After joining their team as the PIEO, she was the fire department’s fire safety clown, a car seat technician and a certified CPR instructor. She started a Fire Explorer Post program in the Lehigh community as well.
Although she loved this line of work, she found that she was desperately missing her law enforcement career. When Sheriff Steve Worley was elected, he asked Brown to return to the Hendry County Sheriff’s Department and work in the Montura and Pioneer Plantation communities again. Because she had such a wonderful rapport with the residents of Montura, Sergeant Brown did not hesitate to take the job. It was actually one of Sergeant Brown’s original Explorers, former Chief Chris Jones, who swore her in when she returned to the Hendry County Sheriff’s Department. Brown stated that “it was one of the highlights of my career to have one of my ‘kids’ swear me in.”
During this time working under Sheriff Worley, Sergeant Brown was the Supervisor of all of the Hendry County School Resource Officers, continued to oversee the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Program, taught car seat safety as a Child Passenger Safety Seat Technician, and donated countless hours of volunteer time to the community. She worked with the Department of Transportation and the Community Traffic Safety Team to create and maintain the Bike Rodeo program as well.
Finally, to culminate her lengthy career, Sergeant Barbara Brown transferred to the courts in 2013 where she served her final years of service as the Head Bailiff. She noted that “it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me because these are the most awesome people in the world,” and “they are like family to me.” Although she loves all of her law enforcement, school system and forestry friends, working so closely with the same people day in and day out in the court system for three years formed a bond unlike any other.
Judge Scott Cupp stated that “Barbara Brown has helped literally hundreds if not thousands of Hendry County citizens throughout her long career of service with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office. Barbara is one of those rare people whose true nature is to simply serve and help others. She will be missed by all of us that work with her in the courthouse.”
During this interview, there were several tears both happy and sad, as well as many good, long laughs. Sergeant Brown has a heart of gold, and it was reflected during the hour she spoke of her career. She is truly leaving a legacy for the citizens of Hendry County, and one can only hope that many will follow in her footsteps. Beware – these are pretty big shoes to fill. On behalf of myself and countless other members of this great community, we love you Barbara Brown.
On a final note, Sergeant Brown wanted to thank the community in her own words and wrote the following:
“After 30+ years of service between law enforcement and the fire service, I have decided to retire. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the citizens of Hendry County for entrusting me with protecting you, your children and your property.
Throughout my career, I was given the honor of spending many hours with your children as a School Resource Officer, teaching D.A.R.E. and G.R.E.A.T., bike safety, and car seat safety through the many great community events in our county. Spending time with your children made even the worst day on the job so worth it.
To all the teachers I had the privilege to work with…Thank You! You are very special people with a very tough job and I admire all of you.
To my Court House family – since day one you have made me feel welcome. I am going to miss you all so much…especially my MISFIT TOYS!
To my Sheriff’s Office family – I hope you know how I feel. Some of us go way back and we will ALWAYS be family.
And then there are my Explorers! What can I say about them. Your children became my children, and it makes my heart smile when so many of them go on to do great things whether it is in law enforcement or not. Some of ‘my kids’ have gone on to become my boss. When I returned in 2001 to Hendry County, one of my original Explorers swore me in. Talk about full circle.
To the younger generation of law enforcement – always remember to treat the people you encounter like you would like a family member to be treated if stopped by law enforcement. Just because someone is nervous doesn’t always mean they did something wrong. Stay respectful but vigilant, and most of all stay safe. I have attended way too many funerals over the years for brothers/sisters in law enforcement and really don’t care to attend any more.
I have so many memories from my years here and thanks to the citizens of Hendry County, there are more good ones than bad. Thank you all again and may God Bless and keep you all safe.”
Enjoy your retirement Sergeant Barbara Brown. You deserve it!