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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Amanda Figueredo commits to safety in Gainesville SWAT unit

Figueredo originally came to Gainesville to work in restaurants

In 2020, Amanda Figueredo wasn’t even a sworn officer. Two years later, she became the fourth woman in the Gainesville Police Department’s history to join the SWAT unit.

Figueredo, 31, recently received accolades after her rise in GPD, earning the officer of the year title. But her community involvement extends past policing into diversity programs and child mentorship.

“At the end of the day, no matter what’s going on, we can still make an impact,” she said.

Before she joined law enforcement, Figueredo worked in the restaurant industry for eight-and-a-half years. She first came to Gainesville from Miami to help run the now-closed Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria. There, she quickly grew close to the city and its people.

“I kind of fell in love with the small community, with the culture,” she said. “Just seeing how things were.”

As the restaurant continued to host special events — including buy-one-get-one margarita Fridays — the store would regularly outsource off-duty officers who spoke with Figueredo.

GPD officers encouraged Figueredo to join the force, and by March 2020, she enlisted as a non-certified officer ready to go through academy.

The COVID-19 pandemic almost disrupted her plans, she said. She joined just one week before the pandemic really hit and put the department in disarray. Instead, staff had her run errands across multiple departments, helping her build rapport across GPD faster than usual.

“We got to know a lot of personnel in the agency before becoming a police officer,” she said.

A year later, Figueredo was sworn in. As a GPD member, her favorite aspect of career life is engaging the community’s youth.

During the holidays, she participated in Shop with a Cop and Heroes and Helpers, two programs where officers help students buy gifts on a set budget.

Figueredo was inspired by the kids, she said, as they prioritized their family members over themselves.

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She also regularly engaged in diversity outreach, appearing on the local Tu Fiesta Radio station to answer questions and speak to the community.

Beyond officer duties, Figueredo became a SWAT officer in August, making her the first Hispanic woman in the unit, and the fourth woman on the team in any capacity.

Only 13.3% of law enforcement officers in the United States are women, according to an FBI study.

Figueredo was initially unsure if she would be able to make SWAT, she said, but quickly learned she had the ability.

“If you have goals and ambitions, don’t be intimidated by what anyone else thinks,” she said.

Throughout 2022, Figueredo was nominated for officer of the year by Sgt. Farrah Lormil for her community efforts and rapid progress.

“I could go on about Officer Figueredo’s hard work, perseverance and kind-heartedness, but these qualities are always available for viewing and familiarity,” Lormil said in a release.

The award was announced to Figueredo’s surprise at Gainesville’s state of the city address in February, where Mayor Harvey Ward had her and Lormil stand in front of everyone.

“I want to thank them both and everyone at GPD for being front and center and keeping our community safe,” Ward said.

While proud of her success, Figueredo said she found a better work-life balance in the past year. Her constant efforts at GPD left her busy, but more recently she’s been able to travel and visit her family in Miami more often.

“So honestly, this last year has been a healthy balance after having achieved things,” she said.

Contact Aidan Bush at Follow him on Twitter @aidandisto.

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Aidan Bush

Aidan Bush is a third-year journalism major and the Spring 2024 Engagement Managing Editor of The Alligator. In his free time, he likes to listen to music and go kayaking.

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