Meet the Officer: Jessica Francis

OKEECHOBEE — Officer Jessica Francis was born 1981 in Bradenton and spent her childhood, up to 9 years old, in Palmetto before settling in Okeechobee. During her summers she would go to the beach with friends and family and as she got older would spend her time babysitting for family friends who lived in the Palmetto area. Some of her other activities included being outside riding her bicycle and climbing trees.

Officer Jessica Francis, OPD

Officer Francis graduated from Okeechobee High School in 1999 with her favorite subject being Art and Drama classes stating, “Mainly because it was where I found the best chance to express myself freely.” Officer Francis continued, “I was also in Diversified Cooperative Training (DCT), which allowed me to gain credits towards graduation while I worked. School was awesome for me because i was a very social person and loved to see my friends.”

Shortly after her graduation, Officer Francis began to pursue her Associate of Arts Degree in 2003. She was only able to take a few classes intermittently due to her family, which was growing at the time. “I had my first daughter in 2001 and then my second in 2003. Juggling kids and home life slowed my ability to take classes.” However, she did not let any of this discourage her. “In 2012, yes, nine years later,” she said humorously before continuing, “I graduated with my AA and began to pursue my bachelor’s degree in Human Services.”

Officer Francis inquired about a career in the military with a recruiter — after she separated from the father of her children — with aspirations to be like her dad, stating, “My father is a Marine and I felt an internal desire to follow in his footsteps.” Unfortunately for Officer Francis, she was told she could join the service but would have to relinquish custody of her daughters to their father, which she stated she was not interested in doing and continued with her schooling in the human services field.

When asked why she chose the career of law enforcement, Officer Francis replied, “While I was attending classes at the Indian River State College Safety Complex in Fort Pierce, I saw the academy cadets and after watching them realized the answer to my quest was law enforcement. It would allow me to stay local while serving my community, so I started the enrollment process. I was enrolled in full-time classes working towards my bachelors, so I took the long route and did the part-time academy at night which took an entire year.”

Officer Francis continued, “I had a job offer from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office before graduation which I accepted. I stayed with OCSO for three years before making the switch to the Okeechobee Police Department just this year in May.”

In her spare time, Officer Francis likes to go to the beach, spend time with her family and exercise. “I love to train and compete in body building competitions. It is my form of therapy, which has kept me sane in all my chaos. I also love to paddle board and hang out at the beach along with spending as much time with my children and two dogs — which are my world!”

Officer Francis said if she could live in another time period, it would be the 1950s because, “People just seemed to be so much happier then and things were so much simpler.” She said that if she could meet any influential figure that it would be King Leonidas I, the ancient king of the city-state of Sparta. “His incredible show of honor and courage, even when facing imminent death, is intriguing to me; a guiding light of sorts in my life.”

Officer Francis concluded her interview with the chosen super-human power of the ability to fly stating, “The freedom flying offers has always captivated me!”

The Lake Okeechobee News is published every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and now includes news from around the lake every Wednesday.

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