CSU student Lt. Robert Mealy of the Manatee County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office has always been interested in law enforcement.
“As a kid, I had two uncles who were cops with the New York Police Department. I looked up to them and thought what they did was ‘cool,’” said Mealy. “When my wife and I moved to Florida, I had a few good friends who were cops. I knew I was hooked after going on a few ride-alongs.”
Eighteen years later, Mealy still loves what he does. “I truly believe that our job as law enforcement officers is to protect and stand up for those who can’t for themselves.”
His sense of duty was evident last month when he received a gunshot wound after responding to a bank robbery. Following a vehicle pursuit, Mealy was shot in the arm while approaching the suspect’s truck. After an exchange of gunfire, deputies advanced to find the suspect dead inside the truck.
“That was a day I will never forget. After doing this job for 18 years, it showed me how quickly things can happen,” explained Mealy. “I was very fortunate to not sustain a life or career ending injury. After being shot, I truly experienced the brotherhood of law enforcement. It is alive and well, I lived it.”
Mealy has returned to work and continues to pursue his online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with CSU.
“Education is something that can never be taken away from you. CSU is an absolute perfect fit for active law enforcement professionals. We live in a world where technology is constantly changing. Online education has become increasingly popular. CSU is very flexible and accommodating to law enforcement professionals.”
As he nears completion of the degree, Mealy said he has enjoyed working at his own pace.
“If I wanted to work ahead, I could. I enjoyed the feedback from my professors. I enjoyed the feedback and positive suggestions from the Success Center. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment each time I finish a class.”
That sense of accomplishment is one factor that keeps him motivated and he keeps his eye on the prize. “I have always had a passion to obtain my bachelor’s degree and the time was right. I have a few, close personal friends whom I work with who are college grads. I wanted to be on their level. Each time I completed a class, I knew I was one step closer to obtaining my degree.”
While obtaining his degree is rewarding, so is law enforcement for Mealy. “You can truly make a difference in a person’s life. We see people at their absolute worse — when they are in a crisis situation. Law enforcement is that thin blue line between good and evil. Law enforcement provides many opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives,” he explained.
And he will continue to make a difference when he takes the next step in his career: a master’s degree from CSU.