Ask Crime Prevention Specialist Cindy Sarver how she got her start in law enforcement and she will tell you that she “married into it”. Her husband, Lieutenant Frank Sarver, was a police officer with the Beverly Hills Police Department at the time they were married. Sarver began her career in private security, doing executive protection for high profile clients in Beverly Hills, California.
“We collaborated with the LAPD during the Olympics and we even had the honor of escorting President Ronald Reagan. We were rather low-key, yet authoritative, almost like a Secret Service for celebrities,” Sarver said. “We dressed professionally, yet we blended in at the same time.”
“ Occasionally, we blended in TOO well. Once, I was looking for one of the celebrities that I had been assigned to escort and I could not located him. I noticed a group of hulks in suits who were eying me suspiciously. After I made several rounds, one of them gruffly asked, “Can I help you ma’am?” I explained that I was there to escort my client. They stepped aside, and there was my client. He’d been there the whole time!”
In 1997, the couple took a “leap of faith” and relocated to Santa Rosa County, Florida, after Frank was hired at Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office. Sarver found herself in “culture shock.”
Because Santa Rosa County is located in Northwest Florida, the area is often humorously referred to as “Lower Alabama”. The area is known for its “Southern hospitality” as well as for its beautiful beaches.
“ In California, cities are more incorporated. Here, the Sheriff’s Office has more authority. The Sheriff’s Office’s authority is second only to the governor. Also, Beverly Hills P.D. is one entity, unlike the county, which comprises Gulf Breeze, Milton, Pace, Munson, Holley, Navarre, Jay and Harold,” Sarver said.” “We deal with a diverse population; some are affluent, and some are back woods, and we love them all.”
“I remember one of the first calls Frank answered that was way out in the ‘boonies’,” Sarver said. “It was a domestic dispute in which a firearm was discharged. The alleged shooter tried to tell Frank that he had been cleaning the firearm, and it ‘went off accidentally. Frank said, ‘Do I look like a fell off the turnip truck yesterday?’ The accused shooter was momentarily baffled, and then he replied, “Turnips? We don’t have any turnips. We’ve got some collards, though.”
She and her husband became quickly acclimated to their new environment. They have grown to love their new community, and vice versa.
Cindy began to volunteer at the Sheriff’s Office, and she was awarded “Volunteer of the Month.” She was then hired as the Crime Stoppers Coordinator, and later transitioned to her current position as Crime Prevention and Community Relations Coordinator. Her job description includes “educating the public on crime prevention issues and performing residential and commercial security surveys.” She also coordinates a Citizens Law Enforcement Academy and a Youth Awareness program for the department.
Sarver has served the community in many facets during her distinguished career. She is a state certified Crime Prevention Specialist and is also an NRA -certified instructor for the “Refuse To Be A Victim” course. She is a state certified Convenience Business Inspector and a certified Victim Services Practitioner. Sarver has had training in Crisis Intervention/Terrorism, specialized training by the FBI in Crime Scene Investigations, Human Trafficking, White Collar Crime, and Cyber-Security. She has been the Public Information Officer for two fire departments and the Southwest Panhandle Search and Rescue Team.
Sarver holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. She also has a lifetime teaching credential from the state of California. She currently serves on the Northwest Florida Prevention Coalition, the Tobacco-Free Prevention Coalition, the Milton Girl’s Juvenile Residential Facility Advisory Board, the SAFER Santa Rosa Board of Directors Disaster Team, the CEO Roundtable, Citizen Corps under Pres. Bush’s Freedom Corps., the Gang Reduction Task Force and the Homeless Coalition Board of Directors.
One of the first changes Sarver made was to redesign the Neighborhood Watch signs. The picture of a burglar was replaced with the Sheriff’s Office’s star. The new design is much more official and has proven to be more effective.
Another tactic Sarver has used to improve relations with the public is to ask the community what services they feel are needed to reduce crime.
“If we don’t have it, I will do my best to get it for them,” she said.
Sarver stated that she especially enjoys teaching the Citizens Police Academy, which is hosted twice a year. “It is an opportunity for citizens and police officers to get to know one another on a personal level, in a casual setting,’ Sarver said.
She is the winner of the NRA’s 2004 Best Public Relations Award, the Community Drug & Alcohol Council’s Spirit of Prevention award for 2009, and the Tobacco-Free Coalition’s Person of the Year Award 2011. She is a published author, former print media writer, and serves with pride on the Southwest Panhandle Search and Rescue K-9/Emotional First Aid Team. This team was recently awarded the FBI Director’s Award for Distinguished Community Leadership. She authored the “Know the Law” book for adolescents and parents and put together a comprehensive and all inclusive crime prevention guide.
Sarver offers the following advice for private citizens:“Remember that prevention is proactive. Awareness is the main thing to remember. Statistically, a person’s chances of becoming a victim are 1 in 5. One’s chances of being a victim of identity theft is 4 in 5. Never assume anything, and never sacrifice safety for convenience. To prevent becoming a victim, one must be aware of their surroundings one hundred percent of the time: at home, at work, and when they are asleep.”