Just a two hour drive, across the Big Cypress Swamp, but in a sense a million miles away from life here on Marco Island, is the City of Miami. Officer “TC” Cowait will tell you that Marco is very different from the Miami metropolis where he grew up, and where he spent twenty-five years in Law Enforcement, before coming to the Marco Island Police Department four and a half years ago.
After high school TC entered the U.S. Marines, where he spent three years in active service and a further three-and-a- half years in the Reserves. While serving in the Marines, he received his basic training in Paris Island, SC, and was sent to Camp Pendleton, CA. He was later stationed at the Marine Barracks in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and was honorably discharged in 1979. When TC returned to his childhood neighborhood home his friends urged him to consider joining the police force, as many of them had done. He applied, was accepted, and began working for the City of Miami PD and has never looked back.
On TC’s third day as a rookie on the job, another officer, who had been in the police department for only six months, was shot and killed. Seeing the officer, who was directing traffic, a man stopped his car and took off on foot running up an alleyway. The officer chased the man and, as he rounded a corner, the suspect shot him. TC has never forgotten this event. The impact on TC was profound, and he realized then that the work he was doing was extremely serious and of immense importance. TC was working in his own home community and he was determined t make a difference to help the people there.
The list of specialties TC has under his belt is endless: In Miami he worked first on Radio Patrol. He was School Resource Officer for a time; worked in Accident Investigation; as a Motorcycle officer; spent time as a Juvenile Gang Detective; and in Undercover Narcotics. He was promoted to Sergeant and became a Patrol Supervisor; a Homicide Supervisor; then Special Events Supervisor. After promotion to Lieutenant, CT worked in the Special Investigation Section; in Dignitary Protection; in the Bomb Squad; and Criminal Analysis. It is no wonder that any thoughts that TC had about doing something else disappeared. TC was involved in many dangerous situations, including “Buy Bust” operations. TC explains: “Having swept the corner [neighborhood] of drug dealers, we would then go in as drug dealers, and pick up all the buyers.” Also, TC says, “Keeping gangsters and violence out the schools, and keeping the kids safe was very rewarding for me.”
As he says, “There was never a chance to get tired of what I was doing. Every three years or so, I would move to a different department. It was exciting. I had so much fun. The years flew by!”
Close to completing twenty-five years of service in Miami, TC was thinking about retirement and what to do next. He responded to an ad for Police Officers in Marco Island, came for an interview, and was offered a position on the spot. He accepted and a few months later joined the MIPD. TC’s experience on Marco has been “eye opening,” he says, because it is so different from Miami. “The people here are great. They care about the community–and they care enough to get involved. They call us when they see something awry and they help us to do our job of preventing crime. After four years here, I feel like part of the community ‘family’, and the maturity and level of professionalism of my fellow officers is tremendous. I am very happy to be here.”