Deputy named Law Enforcement Officer of the Year
A deputy from Cape Coral was recently named the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.
Lee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Michael Zazwirsky, who is assigned to the North District, was recognized Sept. 19 at the Second Annual Law and Order Ball, held at the Harborside Event Center in Fort Myers. The ceremony honors officers from across Lee County who went above and beyond.
Zazwirsky was picked from five finalists to receive the award. Also up for the honor was Deputy Christopher Meyer and Staff Officer Darryl Aubuchon, both of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, as well as Cape Coral Police Detective Patricia Enterline and Fort Myers Police Officer Dave Conticelli.
“I was completely humbled and surprised,” he said of even being nominated. “I had no idea.”
According to Zazwirsky, there were about 18 names submitted for the recognition. He was nominated by his commanding officer, Capt. Christopher Reeves, and it was his first time for the nomination.
“I didn’t even know there were submissions. I found out when they picked the top five,” he said.
Officials reported that Zazwirsky’s accomplishments range from creating a program to crack down on juvenile offenders, to organizing community events, like a holiday food drive in North Fort Myers.
“I know I was the one who had to accept the award, but a lot of people helped me with those,” he said of the projects. “I came up with the ideas but to implement them, it was absolutely a team effort.”
During the ceremony, the five finalists were called up to the stage and videos were played for the audience that summarized why they had been nominated. Zazwirsky’s was the last one shown.
“Their stories were awesome and how they helped their communities or their agency,” he said of the others. “I was not anticipating winning, at all – and to be picked as the overall person was crazy.”
Zazwirsky was awarded a trip to Africa, with airfare included, and a ring made by a local jeweler. He explained that the prizes were bids won during an auction that evening that the winners re-donated.
The program he created is a database of youth on probation in the area that all deputies can access. Zazwirsky came up with the idea after Reeves said they needed a better way of tracking the juveniles.
“It gets the information quickly to the officers,” he said.
It also set into motion continual monitoring of the juvenile offenders by all of the deputies in the district. Instead of one officer checking on a youth, every shift has access and checks on them.
It went from one deputy for every 40 juveniles, to one deputy for every four.
“In the first couple of months, our juvenile crime had dropped about 27 percent,” Zazwirsky said. “They were a huge portion of our overall crime in the district.”
In operation for about a year, the program has been picked up by the other LCSO districts.
During the holiday season last year, the North District decided to try something different. It had previously organized an adopt-a-family program every year, but it only aided that one family.
“We wanted to look to affect more people than just one family,” he said.
Zazwirsky organized the Fighting Holiday Hunger event, which featured live music and family-friendly activities. Admission into the event was a can of food or donation for those in need.
“When we started, we weren’t sure of the response we would get,” he said.
Approximately 2,000 people showed up for the event. In the end, officials estimated that more than 10,000 cans and nearly 2,000 pounds of dry food were collected, with about $3,000 donated.
“We were about to give to mobile food pantries and go with a local community center,” Zazwirsky said, adding that approximately 2,700 families in the area benefitted from the food drive.
The event will be held again this year – Dec. 5 at the North Fort Myers Community Center.
“I did have a good idea, but that idea was carried by the whole team,” he reiterated of winning. “There is no way anyone in law enforcement can do anything as an individual, you have to work as a team.”
A Cape resident since 1987, Zazwirsky graduated from Mariner High School. He began his career at the LCSO at age 18 in the Technical Services Division. Zazwirsky later attended the Southwest Florida Public Service Academy, joined the Sheriff’s Office’s Honor Guard and became a field training officer.
In his pursuit of excellence, he graduated with the 55th Law Enforcement Crossover Class and was later transferred to the North District, where he has spent the past eight years. Zazwirsky has worked as a patrol deputy, detective, juvenile arrest and monitoring deputy, and a community policing deputy.
He and his wife of 12 years, Ashley, have a 5-year-old daughter, Abigail.
The Annual Law and Order Ball is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Fort Myers South.