Saylor Murto, 5-foot-2 of Satellite Beach, walks tall as a newly-sworn-in, full-status patrol officer for the Indian Harbour Beach Police Department, her personal dream job since age 15.
Now riding with a male training officer as backup while she learns the ropes, Murto, 19, feels confident she can project her authority – like she has her whole life when faced by doubters – and will prove she can rise to the moment.
“It comes down to your bark has to be bigger than your bite. Working the road, I’ve already noticed that some people will try to size me up, but when I open my mouth and I talk to them and they know I mean business, they back off,” she said.
The eldest of five children, Murto carries her mother’s passion for law enforcement. Always independent, she moved out on her own at age 18, took on three jobs and started saving for Eastern Florida State College Law Enforcement Academy. She took on a gofundme.com page when the money came up short for the application, using the quote: “Bravery is not the absence of fear but action in the face of fear.”
Murto describes herself as the managing, problem-solver type but admits that she knows how to get loud to get her point across. “I kind of grew up gaining those strengths, and in the academy it definitely reinforced them with the Defensive Tactics training. You had to project your voice. You couldn’t be quiet. You’ve got to want it.”
She learned her discipline from a variety of sports including 10 years as a competitive gymnast and as a high school pole vaulter.
Her EFSC Law Enforcement Academy training began right after Hurricane IRMA in 2017 and she graduated March 6. Murto did well as a marksman even though she had only fired a gun a couple of times before the academy. She took to heart the lesson that using a gun is a matter of life and death.
“We did a lot of scenario-based shoot/don’t shoot training where you had to make that split-second decision. I did very well. As a human being you are going to be nervous at that moment. However, I don’t doubt my ability to make the right decision when the time comes. My training makes me feel comfortable that I will make right decision,’’ she said.
Most law enforcement centers on effective communication, she said.
“Female (officers) have a little more patience with people. You’re smaller so you take your time to use your words to get compliance. I find myself taking more time talking things through with people to get them to comply with me.”
Friends in high school didn’t believe Murto would follow through and become a police officer, and now some are following in her footsteps.