Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

On Patrol: Colleen Schiro is a former schoolteacher who holds her own as a sheriff's deputy

The afternoon began with a child abuse call.

A 7-year-old boy arrived at a Riverview day camp with a bruise on his leg. He told counselors that his father had slapped him on the thigh the night before. Camp staffers contacted the authorities.

Hillsborough County sheriff's Deputy Colleen Schiro responded.

It's the start of another shift for Schiro. As a patrol deputy covering the diverse area of southern Hillsborough County, her job is often unpredictable.

District 4, which stretches from Manatee County to Causeway Boulevard and Lithia Pinecrest Road in the north, encapsulates a broad population. Calls for service reflect that.

There's not much crime in Sun City Center but lots of death investigations, Schiro said. In Ruskin and Riverview, calls are mainly for burglaries and drugs. Apollo Beach tends to be quiet.

The most popular call deputies respond to is 911 hangups, Schiro said. Each one is a priority.

"You never know what's going on," she said. "It could be that someone dialed 911 on accident or that someone is being attacked and they only had time to dial 911 before they had to hang up. We treat all of them as if some kind of serious situation is taking place."

Other calls involve drug overdoses — mostly for prescription pills and synthetic marijuana — suspicious people in neighborhoods and juvenile issues.

Traffic stops are done as time and duty permits, Schiro said.

And then there are the domestic violence calls like the one Schiro responded to at the Riverview day camp.

When Schiro, 27, arrived, she met with the boy and a Hillsborough County Child Protective Services investigator.

Both asked him multiple questions to discern whether he knew the difference between a lie and the truth, then asked him about what happened. They would each follow up with the father.

For Schiro, a former elementary school teacher, working with children seems to come easily.

She traded in her schoolbooks for a patrol car three years ago. As much as she enjoyed teaching, a career in law enforcement had always been on her mind, she said.

Most of her family is in the field, including her father, Tom Feeney, who is the major at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Special Investigation Division.

"I always wanted to be a cop," she said. "There's something new every day."

Entering the field as a woman, though, means becoming a part of a minority.

There are not many female deputies, Schiro said, and being one of them has its positives and negatives.

"It can be beneficial to be a woman and at the same time a little challenging," she said. "Some people still have manners and won't disrespect a woman. Then some people take a look at me and size me up and think it's on."

At 5 feet 6 and 125 pounds, Schiro may not look as intimidating as some of her male counterparts, but in some cases she would go to a weapon sooner than someone bigger who may be able to use his body.

After the child abuse call, Schiro responded to a 911 call by an adult daughter concerned about her mother. The mother had been frightened by her son, who she said was on drugs.

When Schiro arrived, the son was gone. With the woman safe, Schiro went into a role she often has to take on as a deputy: counselor.

"We give out a lot of advice to people," she said.

Advice can range from detox services to marital and parenting tips.

"Even if you're not a parent yourself," she said, "you give it."

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at srossetter@tampabay.com or (813) 661-2442.

On Patrol: Colleen Schiro is a former schoolteacher who holds her own as a sheriff's deputy 08/16/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 16, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Baker cautious on Pride politics

    Elections

    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  2. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  3. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  4. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of June 26-July 2.

    Events

    Vans Warped Tour: The festival returns Saturday to St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park, featuring shock-metal icons Gwar, hardcore punks Sick Of It All, ska band Save Ferris and indie-pop group Never Shout Never ($39.50-$49.50). vanswarpedtour. …

    Crowd for the Motionless in White band at the 2014 Vans Warped Tour at Vinoy Park, Friday, July 25, 2014.  CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times