The UCF Police Department has named its top cops for 2015, including the first woman recipient of Officer of the Year.
Detective Amber Abud, a member of the police department’s criminal investigations division, was named 2015 Officer of the Year in an awards ceremony Thursday at the Fairwinds Alumni Center.
“I didn’t know I was the first-ever UCF female officer of the year, so I’m surprised, but very honored,” Abud said. “Women are underrepresented in law enforcement, but I never let that hold me back.”
UCF Police Chief Richard Beary said Abud is one of his most dedicated investigators, helping the 71-officer department reduce crime by 23 percent over the past year.
“She is an incredibly smart investigator and approaches every case with a well-thought-out strategy,” Beary said. “She has been assigned to almost every severe or high-profile crime we’ve investigated last year.”
Beary said Abud’s dedication to her duties directly influenced the award selection panel’s decision.
“We focus on capability, not color of skin or gender,” he said. “What’s important is character. The people we select for awards are the future of this organization.”
During the ceremony, UCF police recognized 22 awardees and promoted five officers. Ten were women.
“These women are paving the way for me,” Victoria Scott, a community service officer, said. “My dad was a police officer and never once told me I shouldn’t serve in law enforcement due to my gender.”
Scott was named Community Service Officer of the Year and is scheduled to begin UCF Police Academy Monday.
Officer Joel Witherspoon, who was one of seven Officer of the Year nominees, said Abud is well-deserving of the award.
“She is an extremely hard worker, a talented investigator, and very thorough,” he said.
Abud became a UCF police officer in 2006. She said she has experienced the highs and lows of working in law enforcement while raising two children with her husband.
“Being a woman in a male-dominated field can hold some women back, but it’s really just about doing your job and doing it right,” Abud said. “I’m proud to be an example of that.”