LIVE OAK, Fla. — A desire to serve the community led David Shapiro into law enforcement 30 years ago.
Now, a desire to be closer to family is leading Shapiro into retiring from the Live Oak Police Department after 12 years as the agency’s Community Resource Officer. Shapiro’s last day with the LOPD was Thursday.
“That’s really why I got into this business. I wanted truly, cops can say this all day long, I wanted to serve the people and the community and do good things,” Shapiro said about becoming an officer in his mid-40s after a successful career in the automobile business. “Truly, that was my heart.
“I would like to think over these years that I have in many ways benefited the community.”
After relocating to North Florida from Indian River County — Shapiro previously served with the Vero Beach and Sebastian police departments — following Hurricanes Jeanne and Frances in 2004, Shapiro benefited Live Oak and Suwannee County through his work spearheading the LOPD’s two academies — the Citizens’ Police Academy and the Teen Police Academy.
The Citizen’s Police Academy already was running when Shapiro arrived and he just continued its momentum, trying to add to it with a greater variety of presenters and subject matter.
The Teen Academy, though, was another story.
Shapiro said when Chief Buddy Williams asked him to start that, he decided to try and find a model to start with.
His search was fruitless.
“We found out very, very quickly, it didn’t exist,” he said, adding the Teen Academy just graduated its 12th class after launching it from the ground up. “There was no model.
“I don’t know that we were the first, but we were one of the first, at least in the state of Florida. I don’t think I was the one out of this whole world of law enforcement, I don’t think I was the only one to have the idea, but we’ve had some fun with that.”
He’s also enjoyed serving his communities in times of need. Prior to leaving Indian River County, Shapiro served as the public information officer for the City of Vero Beach during those 2004 hurricanes.
“I was able to communicate in a good way with the community,” he said, adding it was a highlight of his career. He also said as the community resource officer there, he utilized television and radio as a way to reach out to the community.
Now, though, Shapiro and his wife, Linda, are leaving a community they’ve grown to cherish: “We love it here, we love the people, we love the town, we love our church.”
And after fleeing hurricanes in 2004, they are now returning back to the area and moving to Palm Bay where they have three children, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren in the area.
Shapiro isn’t sure what the future holds, but admits it may still include serving.
“Go as God leads me,” he said about his plans. “I will admit I don’t think I’m done with law enforcement. If I did have the opportunity down there, I would like to continue in some form what I was doing here.”