Deputy Sandra Horne earned the Village of Wellington’s 2017 Top Cop Award for her leadership and tireless efforts in bettering the lives of Wellington residents, in particular, the young and the elderly.
Sgt. George Mastics Jr. nominated Horne for many reasons, one of those being her work with elderly citizens suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Horne regularly checks on patients, keeps them company, lends them an ear and befriends them, acting as an extra source of support.
“Most deputies go on calls, call to call, and deal with the public one-on-one, and shuffle off to the next call, no matter what that call is. [Horne] stays on that call until everything is settled — an Alzheimer’s patient, elder abuse, whatever it may be,” Mastics explained. “Then she will go back and check on that individual.”
Mastics spoke extremely highly of Horne in making the nomination.
“What we have here is a very caring individual, good human being, who goes beyond her duties to be able to render aid,” he added.
When Horne was nominated, she was happy, but didn’t feel like she did anything extraordinary.
“I did something we do every day, as deputies,” Horne said. “I just take out a little extra time, and spend more time doing rounds checking on the elderly.”
Earlier this year, she went to check on one of her regulars and discovered that no one had seen or heard from the woman for several days. There were newspapers stacked on the driveway, and Horne knew something was off. She was granted access to the home by the woman’s son, and eventually found her in the bathroom barely breathing.
Horne immediately called Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue, and the woman recovered. She had been on the floor for almost five days and was close to death. Now, she is thriving in an assisted-living facility.
And, even though the woman is no longer in Horne’s patrol zone, Horne still makes time to see her, catch up and remind her that she is cared for.
On one of Horne’s recent days off, Mastics said, she went to the home of an Alzheimer’s patient who recently went missing, to make sure that he was signed up for a GPS monitor so he doesn’t get lost again.
“I love my job, I really do,” Horne said. “I’ve been with the sheriff’s office 20 years.”
Horne is a deputy who, as she said, does it all. She has steps throughout the day, but her first step is to check on her seniors.
Being chosen, and receiving the recognition, is special to Horne, who wants people to see the other side of law enforcement.
“We don’t just get out there and do tickets and take people to jail,” she said. “We have a humanitarian side and do many other things.”
Horne has been in Wellington for just over a year and a half and has already fostered close relationships.
“My favorites are going around talking with the senior citizens,” she said.
The PBSO’s diversity in people and calls, ranging from seniors to juveniles, of all ethnicities, allows Horne to cover a lot of area.
“I’m born and raised in Florida,” she said. “Being here in Wellington, I’ve really experienced a lot.”
Horne didn’t actually choose law enforcement as a career path. “The PBSO chose me,” she explained.
She was working for the Department of Children & Families and befriended the contract deputies who were working there. They encouraged her to apply for a position with the PBSO.
“They hired me within a month. I started as a 9-1-1 dispatcher. I became a training officer in dispatch and trained a lot of dispatchers,” Horne recalled. “I did that for seven years, and I’ve been on the road for 13.”
For Horne, the most rewarding aspect of her career is “knowing that I can help someone out, and knowing I can put a smile on someone’s face.”
Sometimes just saying “hello” to someone can change their life, she said, adding that having someone to talk to can really make a difference in people’s lives.
Horne lost her mother at a young age and has a special bond with the seniors, she said. The families of the seniors are surprised, she said, that Horne visits them. It isn’t something that they expect of the PBSO.
Offering youngsters her phone number, as someone to call, is a frequent occurrence for Horne, a mother of five, giving them an additional line of support.
“I’ve had a lot of kids call me,” she said. “It feels good knowing that they do remember… and I’m able to talk to them.”
The relationships that she has created, the trust she has earned from residents and the commitment to the community are just some of the reasons why Horne was named Wellington’s Top Cop.
ABOVE: Deputy Sandra Horne with Sgt. George Mastics Jr.