BIG CYPRESS — Allen Colon’s ascension through the ranks of the Seminole Police Department continued Aug. 17 when he earned a promotion to the rank of lieutenant.
The Seminole Tribal member, whose aspirations to be a police officer extend back to his teen years, has excelled in a variety of roles during his nearly 15 years of service with SPD. All along the way – first as a community service aide, then as a patrol officer and more recently as a sergeant – he’s earned respect.
“He identifies with Tribal members and police officers,” Seminole Police Chief John Auer said. “It’s rare that people understand both. He never loses that insight.”
As a Seminole, Colon, 53, has a unique perspective on his chosen profession.
“I have a better understanding of the community,” he said. “It isn’t the easiest job being a Tribal member because you are looking at both sides. Sometimes that makes it difficult, but we get through it. Knowing the language and growing up in the culture is a good tool to have.”
As a lieutenant, Colon is the reservation commander for Big Cypress. His new responsibilities include daily police operations, initial response deployment, follow ups, complaints, education, making sure staff is equipped and trained, maintain discipline and interact with the community.
He is one of five reservation commanders; the others are in Brighton, Hollywood, Immokalee and Tampa.
A self-described “old school” person, Colon has worked since his youth and has earned everything he has. As a way to give back to the Tribe, he decided to pursue a career in law enforcement with SPD.
In 2006, Colon saw his opportunity and planned to join the SPD’s neighborhood watch program. When it turned out that he was the only applicant for the program, he was instead offered a job as a community service aide. That led to him attending and graduating from the Fort Myers Police academy in June 2007. He served as an SPD patrol officer until 2016 when he was promoted to sergeant.
“I love being on the road,” Colon said. “You get to interact with the community and tourists, anyone and everyone who comes through the reservation. I like working with people and helping the community. I want to be a person you can count on.”
Auer saw something unique about Colon. He is one of only a handful of tribal members who have been sworn SPD officers over the years.
“At a certain point in his career, I saw he started to take an interest in preserving the Tribe,” Auer said. “He got to see from an officer’s standpoint some of the issues that affect the Tribe. By his questions, he was taking more responsibility. He is committed to the betterment of the Tribe.”
As a sergeant, Colon interacted with the community and supervised officers.
“I liked taking care of them as much as taking care of the public,” he said. “Being a lieutenant is completely different than being a sergeant; there is more responsibility and administrative work.”
Colon spent about 12 weeks at SPD headquarters in a mentoring program, where he worked with William Latchford, executive director of public safety, Auer and Kevin Tyrie, assistant chief of police. While there, Colon learned how every department within SPD works and learned there was a lot more he didn’t know.
“I know I have a lot to learn,” he said. “But I will do my best and take care of whatever comes up. The buck stops here in my office. It’s a lot of responsibility and I won’t take it lightly.”
Police officers are among the first responders who are on the front lines of the pandemic. Auer saw how concerned Colon was for his officers and their possible exposure to Covid-19.
“He was looking out for his officers,” Auer said. “Public safety is never convenient and he understands that.”
Auer believes the decision to promote Colon was the right one as he watched him rise to the top.
“He has a thirst for information that most people don’t have,” Auer said. “He did all the right things and asked all the right questions. Because of his unique perspective and the ability to see the job from that perspective, he is invaluable to the Tribe. He was a logical and excellent choice and a perfect fit for the community.”