Five Lee County law enforcement officers are up for Officer of the Year. WINK News went to Southwest Florida International Airport to see how one of the nominees goes above and beyond the call of duty.
Lee County Port Authority Officer Monica Freeman, the first line of defense inside the airport, thought she was walking into a meeting when she learned she is a finalist for Officer of the Year.
Freeman has spent the last decade keeping passengers safe at the airport and even performing life-saving CPR when necessary, as it was recently.
“[A woman] had a completely out-of-the-blue medical episode, and then we did CPR on her,” Freeman said. “They took her to the hospital, and she’s been fine ever since.”
Prior to becoming an officer, Freeman worked in dispatch. She later drew on her experience talking people through high-stress situations to create a peer support program to help other officers in crisis.
“I want to help the people that I work with—the officers, my brothers and sisters in blue—to help them and make sure that they get the help that they need,” Freeman said.
Through a network of five local departments, officers now have someone outside their own agency to call anonymously for guidance and resources.
“That way, they can reach out to another officer who would understand their situation but might not know who they are,” Freeman said, “but they’re in the area, and they get it.”
Freeman’s chief said her peer support program is an excellent resource for stress management and suicide prevention.
The Officer of the Year will be announced Saturday at the Law and Order Ball at Suncoast Arena, located at Florida SouthWestern State College. It’s hosted by the Rotary Club of Fort Myers South, and WINK is a sponsor.
Those interested in attending the Law & Order Ball on June 3 can buy tickets at the event’s website.