Boca Grande has a new officer in charge of the island from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Lt. Michael Sawicki. Lt. Sawicki (above, at right) is familiar with Boca Grande, having served as the reciprocal officer for Boca Grande while he was at Captiva. Lt. Sawicki, officially Island Residential Deputy, is moving to the island this weekend, and will be officially on duty Monday, Jan. 8, replacing Capt. Jeff Corkhill, who has served the island since October of 2010.
In his 13 years, Capt. Corkhill has become a beloved figure on the island, not only for his steady demeanor, but also his presence at island events.
“The community has been extremely gracious and kind to me and my family,” said Corkhill, “Boca Grande is very important to the Sheriff’s Office.”
Capt. Corkhill did not make the change lightly, and considered it over a period of months.
He will not be retiring; instead he will go to work for the court system as a bailiff. Corkhill and his wife have six grandchildren; he has recently been fixing up a 10-acre place in Arcadia. There he will be a little closer to his children and grandchildren.
“With thought and reservations, we have decided it’s time for a new chapter,” he said. “It wasn’t an easy choice for us.”
Capt. Corkhill came to the island with an array of experience that served the island well. A native of Tampa, he moved to Fort Myers to live with his father. Uncertain of what to do after a series of construction and landscaping jobs, he went down to the Navy recruiting station where he enlisted for six years.
While there, he spent time in combat on the U.S.S. Nimitz during the Persian Gulf wars of Desert Storm and Desert Watch. He also served on the U.S.S. Shenandoah and was stationed in Virginia, Illinois and Puget Sound.
In a 2010 profile in the Boca Beacon, Corkhill said that his career in law enforcement stemmed from an incident in a grocery store in Tampa, where he encountered a purse snatching and cries for help.
Corkhill told the Boca Beacon that, “I went out the doors and started heading toward the noise. When I got out into the parking lot I saw a lot of commotion and some guy yanking on an elderly lady’s purse. I took off running and tried to get to the guy. I was going to confront him … it just kicked into a natural instinct. It must come naturally to some to get involved with something like that. You either have that ingrained in your character, or you don’t.”
After a variety of positions at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, including deputy, bike patrol, detective in property crimes and in communications, he applied for the position in Boca Grande and got it, replacing Joe Caiazza.
Capt. Corkhill has many memories of Boca Grande, including the trouble of escaping dogs.
One of his memories is getting a call that a pointer and a Jack Russell terrier were in The Gasparilla Inn Beach Club pool.
“I think I know who these dogs belong to,” said Corkhill.
When he came to fetch them, Nikki was dragged out of the pool by her collar, and Grits had jumped off the deck, onto the beach.
The Sheriff’s Office has been supportive of the transition.
“Capt. Jeffrey Corkhill has served the great residents of Boca Grande with dedication and professionalism,” said Sheriff Carmine Marceno. “We wish him well in his new assignment in Court Operations.”
A selection of letters from island residents is published HERE.