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This year’s Officer of the Year award was presented to Detective Amber Abud of the UCF Police Department, the first woman recipient of the award since its creation.

Each spring, UCFPD hosts an awards ceremony to recognize its staff members, officers and community supporters. This year the ceremony was held on Feb. 5 at the Fairwinds Alumni Center.

Supervisors at UCFPD are asked to submit nominations for awards, such as Civilian Staff Member of the Year, Student Escort Patroller of the Year and Officer of the Year, to name a few. Abud was nominated by her direct supervisor Derrick Stokdreher, a lieutenant at UCFPD.

A ballot is created and is then sent out to staff members so that they may submit their votes.

“There are some officers that have a passion deep in their veins for law enforcement. It is obvious that this desire for investigating crimes and helping victims is in investigator Abud’s blood,” Stokdreher said.

As a young girl, Abud would play cops and robbers with the kids in her neighborhood — always the cop, of course. She enjoys a good mystery and solving problems, and admits to being a bit of a science nerd who loves the forensics aspect of her job.

Abud grew up surrounded by a family filled with first responders, police officers and firefighters, as well as people in the medical profession. She believes that helping people is in her DNA and that becoming a police officer was a natural decision.

“It is nice to be recognized with this award and have my work appreciated by my peers and the command staff,” Abud said. “But I also remain humble because I see it as me just coming to work to do my job and do the best I can with everything I get handed. I am finally doing what I wanted to do ‘when I grow up,’ so I am enjoying this.”

Abud, a UCF alumna, obtained her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a certificate in criminal profiling before working for UCFPD. Abud worked at the police department as a Community Service Officer and cross-trained in the Communications Center prior to going into the Academy.

UCFPD isn’t the only one to welcome a woman as Officer of the Year. UCF students like Jennifer Katz, a first-year applied exercise physiology graduate student, is excited at what it could mean.

“I am truly glad to see the UCFPD honoring a woman as Officer of the Year. It gives me hope that my own daughters will someday have opportunities because of people like Det. Abud have paved the way,” Katz said.

Including her investigative work, Abud also volunteers for causes such as Special Olympics; the Crisis Intervention Team, a program for first responders who handle crisis calls involving people with mental illness; Harbor House, a domestic violence resource center; and Pathways Drop in Center, a food and service center for the mentally ill.

A firm believer in always growing and learning, Abud said she plans on continuing her work on community partnerships, as well as other projects within the department.

As to her thoughts on being the first woman recipient, Abud said she believes earning the recognition and respect of your peers has nothing to do with gender, but being good at your job, having a great work ethic, being a team player and continuing to seek personal and professional growth.

“Being the first at anything is cool, but I didn’t receive this award because I am a woman but rather because of the work that I do and the work ethic I have,” Abud said. “Being a female is just an obvious part of who I am, but it’s me as the whole person that got me this recognition.”

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Meghan Bellardini is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.

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