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Amazing Woman of the Suncoast: Melanie Bevan

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Bradenton police chief Melanie Bevan is a Florida native. She was born in Winter Park, grew up in Largo and finished high school there.

She was very involved in the band and played several instruments. Bevan started classes at St. Petersburg Junior College while in high school and worked at Montgomery Ward.

" I was quiet certain there was no other job more influential or more empowering than mines," says Bevan. "I had a radio, I had a set of hand cuffs I could have the roam of the store."

And one day, she chased down a shoplifter and a female police officer came to arrest the guy.

"I had my hand cuffs and radio but she had a whole gun belt."

Melanie was impressed and at the age of 19, she got a job at the St. Pete police department. She had several close calls; one of them was a domestic call.

"I stepped out and there on the porch was a woman with a 10 inch barrel."

The women opened fire.

"I shot back. I wasn't accurate, I shot out her porch light."

This inspired Melanie to improve her shooting skills and it got the attention of her superiors.

"They brought me over to narcotics and for the next five years I was Cathy Crackhead."

After the undercover work, she went back on patrol duty and back to college.

"I went to school for 17 years and finished out the day with a doctorate."

And she was moving up the ranks. But she could not have children so she adopted two baby boys.

"I had to travel to Ukraine,they came from an orphan deplorable conditions there."

After 29 years on the St. Pete police force, she accepted the job in Bradenton. She has deep respect for the 120 officers she commands.

And her life lesson she is teaching her sons?

"Hard work, perseverance and doing things the right way."