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Marceno credits team with smooth transition to the helm

New Lee County sheriff brings long-term law enforcement experience to the office

October 31, 2018
By CJ HADDAD ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Newly appointed Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno has only been in his new role a short while but, thanks to his mentor, staff and extensive law enforcement experience, his transition has been a smooth one, embracing this new chapter in his life and picking up right where now-retired sheriff Mike Scott left off.

"It's an amazing feeling and, at the same time, a humbling feeling," Marceno, who previously served as undersheriff, said of his new post. "The reason I'm successful is because of the men and women in the Sheriff's Office. It's the people that are out there every day, going towards danger, when everybody else runs away, that makes us successful. And I never forget that.

"To me, everybody plays a big part of the team, and I'm just proud to be the guy that got the baton and I'm running forward.

Article Photos

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.


The track to the passing of that baton started back when Marceno was a child on Long Island, where the local beat-cop would frequently converse with Marceno and his group of friends as they were playing ball.

"We'd be playing Wiffle ball or kickball, or whatever game we were playing, and he would talk to us, and it always left an impression on me. So I always wanted to be a law enforcement officer from that. That's where it really started," he said, still remembering the name of the officer that impacted his life so much.

His father, a professional baseball player in the Dodgers organization, purchased a home in Naples after a trip to Southwest Florida, and the family started to vacation there before making a permanent move.

Marceno was first a part of the Collier County Sheriff's Office, where he worked in many different divisions throughout the department-from patrol to narcotics to community policing and more.

Eventually, he was pulled into the administrative side by Sheriff Kevin Rambosk, making Marceno his executive officer.

He would meet the man who would become is mentor during his time at CCSO, despite that individual working for a neighboring agency.

"There was always a sheriff to my north, about 10 miles, that caught my attention, and that was Sheriff Scott," Marceno said. "At that time, we'd meet continuously at the border and we would talk about Collier and Lee and different things we'd see and challenges."

An LCSO position opened in north Lee County, Marceno accepted, now getting to work with the man he revered.

He served in the Public Services Division for a few years, which gave him the opportunity to familiarize himself with Lee County.

Sheriff Scott eventually promoted Marceno to his executive officer, as he continued to learn and absorb as much as he could about many different aspects of LCSO.

"I got to work intricately with the day-to-day operations, and learn simultaneously from an amazing leader, Sheriff Scott," he said.

Marceno was fortunate enough to be hand-picked by Sheriff Scott to attend the FBI National Academy, something that gave Marceno the world-wide perspective, which he said he was able to bring back to Lee County.

"It's an intensive, specific program. Basically, it's like the Top Gun of law enforcement," said Marceno. "That was one of the greatest experiences of my life and the highlight of my career."

Shortly thereafter, Marceno was promoted to Undersheriff of LCSO, formally becoming Sheriff Scott's right hand man.

"Really just entrenching myself in operations and learning from him, every day, has given me a tremendous edge as to where I am today," he said.

What he will remember most from his predecessor's wisdom, is, to "Measure twice, and cut once."

"I think when you act quickly, abruptly and really don't think things through, that's when you make mistakes," he said. "So I learned a lot from roundtableing things, and, you know, learning from the best. Rank doesn't put you in front of anybody else. I know what rank means, and I respect rank. But when we come to the table as a staff and as a team, every single person's opinion matters to me, and we take a little bit of each, and then together, collectively, we find our way. And that's very important."

Marceno has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience under his belt and is heading into his sixth year at the LCSO, having been in the Undersheriff role for just about two.

He feels blessed to have the staff he has inherited.

"Sheriff Scott has left an amazing team in place," said Marceno. "And I say this, and I mean this-I feel like I'm the captain of an all-star team. Everywhere I look I see stars. People that are here, working so hard, selfless and caring above others before themselves."

Marceno said he doesn't think he needs to change much, but he does have his own specific passion projects he wants to tackle head-on in the coming years.

One of those is opiate overdoses.

"Locally, the opiate issues in the county, for me, that's one of my big focuses," he said. "I want to attack the opiates. Opiates lead to many other things (such as) overdoses, crime, violent crime, death-I mean there's so many things that come from the opiate epidemic which is world-wide. That's a major focus for me."

Another point of emphasis Marceno is tackling is school safety.

The newly implemented School Resource Officers legislative mandate, that makes it mandatory that all schools in the state have officers present, is just the tip of the iceberg for Marceno.

"Schools are a huge, huge thing for me," he said. "We have a nationally recognized SRO unit. We have 90-plus thousand kids that go into schools. I pray, every night when I'm sleeping, that's that 90,000 bags of books and 90,000 lunch-boxes with lunches in them. That's not the case all the time. It's the pro-active stance that we're taking to ensure the kids' safety today- that's a major focus for me. We're going to make sure our kids are safe at the end of the day."

Marceno is also embracing the Hispanic community, as 20 percent of Lee County residents are of Hispanic culture.

He noted that 20 percent of LCSO officers speak Spanish, and that the agency wants to have a positive relationship with Hispanic residents in Lee County.

"We want to engage the Hispanic community to let them know a couple of things," he said. "One is that we're there for them. If they're a victim of a crime that they look at us as friends, as trusted members of law enforcement, and they're not afraid of us."

Marceno praised the Public Service Division of the LSCO, which he said offers amazing programs such as helping teen drivers, teaching people how to swim, an archery program and others.

"We're changing lives everyday, and I'm proud to be the guy that shares it with the people I work with," he said.

LSCO Patrol team members are the unsung heroes of the division, said Marceno, calling them the backbone of the agency.

"The people that are the first responders, going to those calls, that could be their last call-I'm doing all I can to protect them, support them and get them as much money as I can in their paycheck."

So, what does it mean to the residents of Lee County now that Marceno is running the show?

"They can rest well knowing that I'm going to give this everything in my power," he said. "I'll never stop working hard for them, and I'll make sure that we do everything to ensure the safety and security of them and their children.

"I want the citizens of the county to know and trust their local law enforcement. I'm so proud of how we interact with not only the Cape, but Fort Myers, Bonita, Estero- so all the key people communicate continuously, because at the end of the day there's no 'I' in team, but we make a team."

Marceno appointed Eric Smith as his undersheriff earlier in the month.

Smith was a big reason for the LCSO SRO program being nationally recognized.

"(Smith) has been here for 25-plus years. He's worked many different beats-he's done it all. He just is a really, really sharp guy and I'm just proud to have him on my team. He was the right man for the right job."

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj



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