Officer Bobby Neil brings a specific mindset to his daily work with the Florida Polytechnic University Police Department.
“In my studies, I learned about giving the best version of yourself to the world,” he said. “Can you imagine if each of us gave the best version of ourselves to the world every single day?”
As he makes his way across campus, Neil makes it a point to engage with students and ensure they see him as more than a police officer.
“People don’t care what you know until they know you care,” Neil said. “This uniform is so intimidating to people, and I want to break down those barriers and just be approachable.”
He said this personable approach is also key to fighting crime.
“It’s important to have students willing to come up to us,” Neil said. “Our job is to make sure we prevent crime and disorder on campus, and the single best thing I can do to ensure safety is to be visible and to be everywhere.”
Neil joined the University’s police department in 2020 after a 25-year career with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, where he progressed from being a patrol officer, to community policing, detective, and school resource officer. He also received promotions to sergeant and lieutenant before finishing his career in the Bureau of Colleges and Universities as head of security for Polk State College. Florida Poly Police Chief Rick Holland soon asked Neil to join his team.
“I thought I was done, but I still had the fire in my belly and that drive to make a difference,” he said.
In his current position, Neil said he thinks of himself as a school resource officer, doing everything he can to create a safe and positive environment for the Florida Poly community.
“I’m an enforcer, a counselor, a mentor, a coach, and a teacher,” he said.
Neil holds an associate degree in criminology, a bachelor’s degree in organizational management, a master’s degree in public administration, and a master’s degree in theological studies. He also is a certified public manager and a criminal justice standards and training instructor in defensive tactics and firearms.
“I would chase different degrees in different seasons. The key was learning my learning style, and once I knew that, learning was easy,” Neil said.
This ongoing pursuit of education helps him relate to the students he serves.
“He gravitates toward the young adults and almost is like a big brother to him,” Holland said. “I am so proud to have Bobby on our team.”
For his part, Neil said he is grateful to be on that team. The 11-member department boasts 251 years of combined law enforcement experience.
“I’m just a part of an already great team assembled and already in place,” he said. “I can only come here and do a small part to continue the professionalism that’s already here.”
Director of Communications