Police officer returns to Florida Poly to serve and protect

Celebrating National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day

Jan 09, 2024
Officer Abby Payne

Florida Polytechnic University Police officer Abby Payne now serves the campus where she pursued a degree in mechanical engineering as part of the University’s inaugural class of students.

In an unusual twist of fate, Officer Abby Payne has come full circle, returning to Florida Polytechnic University, not as a student, but as a member of the University Police Department. Payne was part of Florida Poly's inaugural class, pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering.

“It’s bittersweet coming back to where I started,” she said. “It’s a wild ride being back, especially in a different capacity.

Although Payne originally sought a future in engineering, she said she discovered a profound joy in helping people and gravitated toward a career in law enforcement instead.

She worked with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in its animal control enforcement division and soon began working as a deputy sheriff in patrol and in the traffic homicide unit, which specializes in DUI enforcement. She completed several training courses during her eight years with the department, including traffic crash reconstruction, speed measurement, and DUI field sobriety, amassing more than 400 hours of advanced training.

"I learned I had a knack for it, and I just loved it," Payne said.

While working with the Sheriff’s Office, Payne said she found herself interacting with Florida Poly officers more and more, deciding that a change of pace and shift toward more intensive community policing would better suit her. 

She joined the Florida Poly Police in September of 2023.

“The campus is small and family oriented – everybody knows everybody and is essentially on a first-name basis,” Payne said. “I get to connect with everyone, whether at a department or students.”

As the youngest officer on the force at 27, Payne said she’s able to find common ground with students who are closer to her age. 

“It’s great to be this close to their age bracket and be able to pass on knowledge and connect, especially during exam time,” she said. “I can say, ‘I was in your shoes here. I completely get the stress.’

“As part of the department, it’s good to know that at Florida Poly, we make a bigger difference.”


Lydia Guzmán
Director of Communications