By Elisabeth Costanzo Stewart
For Emily Zielewicz, maintaining a distinct balance between her professional life and personal life is a daily activity.
Professionally, Zielewicz wears many hats, most notably the trademark Sheriff’s Stetson. As a Deputy with the Broome County Sheriff’s Office, Zielewicz ensures the overall welfare of the community members of Broome County. A standard eight-hour shift for Zielewicz could easily include back-to-back tasks of responding to an emergency call, investigating a crime, maintaining safety standards for motorists, processing warrants and subpoenas, and simply fostering day-to-day interactions with the general public. If the breadth of the daily experiences of a Deputy Sheriff doesn’t seem daunting enough, Emily, through extensive continuing education efforts, additionally serves as a Field Training Officer, the only Drug Recognition Expert in Broome County, and as an instructor for the Broome County Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Academy.
If Deputy Zielewicz’s name seems to ring a bell, it may be because she was recently honored with the 2021 NYS Sheriffs Association Deputy of the Year Award for her extraordinary response to a call that quickly escalated from agitated behavior, to the shooting of a New York State Trooper. Thanks to Dep. Zielewicz’s quick and calm response, coupled with her life-saving application of a tourniquet, she was able to safely transport the injured Trooper to emergency medical personnel. She was also awarded the Sheriff Colleen M O’Neill Award which highlights her contribution to the advancement of women in law enforcement. Additionally, Zielewicz was named a 2022 RISE Award Finalist by Axon, the #1 worldwide distributor of police body cameras.
A Johnson City native, Zielewicz attended Seton Catholic Central High School. Thanks to a “Modern Legal Issues” elective offered during her junior year, Emily developed an interest in the law and its practical application in everyday life. Throughout her four years at Seton Catholic Central, Zielewicz amassed a full semester’s worth of college credits, thanks to her participation in Fast Forward classes. This academic jump-start solidified Emily’s plan to enroll at SUNY Broome upon graduating. She decided to continue exploring the American legal system by studying Criminal Justice.
In the midst of being a full-time criminal justice student, Zielewicz accepted her first professional experience with security and public service via a campus job with SUNY Broome’s Public Safety Office.
“I completed my Security Guard certification on campus and was hired by the Office of Public Safety to staff the front desk at the Student Village. My main duties included monitoring and maintaining the visitor log and working with the onsite peace officers. This was the first year that the Student Village was open, so it was definitely a learning curve for everyone involved,” said Zielewicz.
After graduating from SUNY Broome with an impressive 4.0 GPA, Zielewicz transferred all of her credits to Binghamton University. Financially, going to BU made the most sense. She could continue to live at home and capitalize on the affordability of SUNY’s in-state tuition.
Academically, Emily opted to create her own program of study at Binghamton University through their then newly developed Individualized Major Program. Crafting her own academic path was not a simple task. In order to participate in the individualized program, Zielewicz was required to research academic course requirements that closely mimicked her desired curriculum plan, draft multiple proposals of semester by semester coursework outlines, and present her proposed schedule before a review committee for approval. As a result of her extensive self-academic advising, Zielewicz curated an interdisciplinary degree that combined psychology, sociology, human development, philosophy, and law.
Emily’s years at Binghamton University were a consistently busy balance of full-time coursework, a part-time security guard post, and an internship with the District Attorney’s Office. As an intern, Zielewicz had hands-on exposure to the day-to-day operations of investigative detectives and prosecutors. Her internship solidified her desire to tirelessly work to maintain law and order in our community.
Upon graduating from Binghamton University, Emily sat for the civil service exams that covered the regional police agencies. A physical examination and a series of interviews followed. Zielewicz accepted a position with the Broome County Sheriff’s Office as a Deputy, after which she completed her required participation in the Broome County Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Academy, where she now serves as an instructor. Zielewicz is entering her fifth year as a Deputy Sheriff and has yet to have a dull day on the job.
To balance the intensity of her professional life, Emily’s personal life thrives when she is creating. She is an avid gardener, a lover of home improvement projects, a fabulous cook and baker, and she enjoys experimenting with make-up artistry.
“I work in a very male-dominated field, which requires us to be very uniform, polished, and precise. As a result, I intentionally use my time not in uniform to express myself. I sometimes don’t get recognized when I am out in the community in civilian clothing, but showing people that I do things like garden or apply fun make-up, humanizes me to the public. People often forget that at the end of the day, public servants are just everyday people,” shared Zielewicz.
Though her work schedule can sometimes be tricky when it comes to attending social events, Emily loves spending her days off with her family and her Mini Aussiedoodle, Zena, who happens to be very active on Instagram.
Zielewicz believes in the power of professional continuing education. She is currently studying to earn her Accident Reconstruction Certification to assist during and post vehicular accidents that produce major injuries and fatalities. While Emily loves being a student, she also never hesitates to be a mentor, especially at her alma mater. Since graduating in 2015, Zielewicz has stayed connected with Chairperson Kerry Weber and many of her instructors. Passionate about encouraging women to enter the field of law enforcement and public service, Emily volunteers to be a featured speaker in criminal justice and emergency services classes and serves on Perkin’s Grant panels to discuss her life in a “non-traditional by gender” profession.
“I truly believe that SUNY Broome and the professors that guided me here, were what launched me into my career path. Thanks to their guidance, and the support of my family, I was able to decide what I wanted to do with my life and pursue it without hesitation. That’s something that I try to share with others, especially women, contemplating a career in law enforcement. Decide what you want to do, and do it. Don’t let anyone stop you!”
If Emily’s story inspired you, don’t hesitate to learn more about a career in law enforcement and public service by exploring the programs offered within SUNY Broome’s Criminal Justice & Emergency Services Department. SUNY Broome is accepting applications for the fall and spring 2023 semesters. The application is FREE and takes about ten minutes to complete.