Jeffrey Stafford, 44
Patrol Officer Marco Island Police Department
If you ask Officer Jeff Stafford of the MIPD what he loves about his job, he is quick to smile and say, “The families. When I’m on patrol, I see families out walking. Whether they’re on vacation or live here year-round, people feel safe and comfortable enough to go out for a walk with their families.”
While most of us might take that for granted, Officer Stafford doesn’t. During his 20-year Air Force tenure, Stafford lived in roughly seven different states and two countries. Each place had its own sense of community, but none ranked consistently in the top 5 safest cities for their state, which is something our police department is proud of.
Jeff grew up in Orlando, Florida, in a family that was neither military nor law enforcement, but always felt that “it was in my blood.” In high school, several branches of the military reached out to recruit him, but he held out for the one he always felt was the best, the Air Force. They were the last to call, and he was ready.
Jeff planned to give the Air Force a 4-year commitment and then transition into law enforcement, but enjoyed his work and retired with many distinguished awards in 2014 as a Master Sergeant specializing in communications. While Jeff is quiet about his service, he shared an interesting fact after several questions. ” I did work on Air Force One,” he revealed.
Jeff earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice around the time of his retirement and attended police academy from 2014-2015 while working as a Community Safety Officer in Marco Island. Following his certification as an Officer, he was hired by the MIPD and has excelled in his duties since, even earning the Officer of the Year Award in 2018.
While Jeff shares the humility that many first responders and military service members possess and characterizes his desire to serve as “cliché,” there is nothing trivial about the commitment to country and community that is the backbone of his life. “I love helping people in need. There is nothing better than working with victims of crime to get them the justice they deserve,” Jeff relates.
MIPD Patrol Officers respond to all 911 calls for service. Whether it is a fire call, medical call, crime, or community assist call, police officers are dispatched to the scene to provide aid and respond to issues that might come up. The unpredictable nature of walking into a situation where details are unknown require our officers to be prepared for any possibility and to deal with the aftereffects. “Every day on our job, we see things that you don’t want to see. Whether it’s a crime, a child victim, or a medical issue, we are affected by what we can’t unsee,” Jeff says. “We aren’t robots, we have feelings, and these things will always be on our mind.”
But there are many times when the outcome is a good one, times when all of the training and preparation of Marco officers gives them the edge they need to resolve a situation successfully. Officer Stafford was one of the officers who talked a despondent man off of the Jolly Bridge when he was determined to end his life. “He was all the way over the side, he was ready to go. We were able to slow things down and convince him to step back. That was a good day.”
For many on the Island, the days are good—beautiful weather, gorgeous waterways, clean streets, and a small-town feel that encourages community. Officer Jeff Stafford takes stock of those privileges daily, and with his colleagues, he is vigilant in his duty to preserve the simple pleasures on Marco Island, like a walk with your family.