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LIEUTENANT RICHARD CASTELLON: 2023 Top Lideres Awards; SW Florida

Heritage : Cuban, I was born in Weehawken, New Jersey. We moved and I was raised Miami Florida.

Profession: Lieutenant / Law Enforcement

Tell us about what you do for a living and how you got in to it.

I started my law enforcement career back in 2003.  I have twenty years on the job, I’ve worked as a patrol officer / deputy, a K-9 officer / trainer, and as a hostage negotiator.

I’m currently a Lieutenant and I‘m  in charge of the Animal Cruelty Task Force. The task force has afforded me the opportunity to connect with the community and participate in events and assist local groups within the community to promote animal welfare and encourage the adoption of shelter pets. We are constantly looking for news ways to connect with the community and bridge the gap between law enforcement and our youth.

In your industry what would you say separates you from your competition.

My mission statement about service before self resinates with me from my days of service in the military. Which in turn has become a strong core value in my law enforcement career.  I also have an instant connection with our youth because of my hispanic heritage and how I was raised in the same environment that they were.

Why do you feel you were nominated?

I’m continuously working to strengthen the relationship between the a sheriff’s Office and the hispanic community. I make myself visible and transparent with the community. I feel people see that and respect it, which in turn develops trust and support.

During COVID-19, tell us about your biggest challenge/ obstacle and how you overcame it/ or are overcoming it ?

COVID-19 really posed a challenge, because the Sheriff’s mission to engage the community became difficult because of the inability to host events or hold presentations. We had to get creative, so we did. Using social media to connect and still send our message of support. Drop off and pick up points providing food, water, and PPE gear. Doing everything within our reach to provide essentials and information to help the community stay safe and get the assistance they need. Our biggest accomplishment was helping secure and operate Lee Counties vaccine site out at RSW. Bring a part of getting our elderly population and citizens at risk vaccinated was a major accomplishment. Especially getting the information out to the hispanic community.

Tell us about your biggest achievement and how you achieved it.

There are several that rank at the top of my list. The first achievement is that I’m the only member of my family to enlist and graduate basic training in the United States Marine Corps. I was also selected to join 8th & I Marine Barracks and execute ceremonial duties at the Pentagon and the White House all

while receiving a security clearance from the FBI. My twenty years of law enforcement experience has afforded me many opportunities and several promotions at a rapid pace. However, the past four years have really been rewarding. The ability to oversee the Animal Cruelty Task Force has been truly remarkable. Protecting animals, and arresting those individuals that chose to abuse them is truly rewarding. The only thing better, is taking one of these abused animals and turning them in to a spokes dog. Giving that animal a second chance and purpose. Helping us educate the community on animal abuse, and empowering the community to come together and protect anyone or anything from any type of abuse. This is the community relations side of the task force that is just as effective and important as the law enforcement side.

What is next from you? What can people expect to see from you?

I will continue to represent Sheriff Marceno and his mission to keep paradise safe and engage the community through positive interactions and presentations. Continue to grow as a leader and represent the hispanic community to the best of my ability.

What does being a U.S. Citizen mean to you.

I was born in the United States, and served my country in the United States Armed Force for nine years. And I continue the serve the community I live in. In defense and support of the constitution of the United States.

What words of encouragement can you offer.

“ People who are intimidated by you talk bad about you so others won’t find you so appealing. “

Is there anything I did not ask that you would like to share?

I’m truly honored and humbled by this nomination.  And it is that much more important to me because the recognition is coming from my hispanic peers.

What is your comida Latina favorite?

My favorite comida would have to be ropa vieja with morro and platanos maduros.

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