Megan Rapozo has quickly gained the confidence of Tulare County deputies with her new ideas, intelligence and expertise in communications. Soon she will be on television and in newspapers speaking on behalf of the Tulare County Sheriff's Office.
"Hopefully that's part of why they picked me is because I'm comfortable with it and I can talk to someone in uniform like it's no problem because that's just my family," Rapozo said.
"We just think it's a real nice fit and a good opportunity for us to move forward in the future with an efficient program," Tulare County Acting Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said.
Current Public Information Officer Chris Douglass is training Rapozo on how to deliver important information to the public.
"She's doubled the amount of people that watch our Facebook page since she came on and it's been fantastic and so we're excited to move her forward," Douglass said.
Megan considers law enforcement her extended family ever since her father was killed in the line of duty.
"He made a difference to a lot of people's lives things that I'm still hearing about so if I can make a difference to one person then I think he'd be proud of that," Rapozo said.
January 9th 1998 Visalia police officer James Rapozo and fellow SWAT team members were met with gunfire while raiding an apartment. Rapozo was shot under the arm, above his bulletproof vest. Officers later shot and killed the suspect. James Rapozo's death shook the Central Valley community.
"The one thing that I remember the most is before he would leave...I'm sorry...Um before he would leave it would always be 'goodbye, I love you and be safe' and he...I wouldn't let him leave the driveway without him turning on his lights and sirens before he would go." Rapozo said. "I'd just wait out there and say daddy, daddy lights and sirens! And I'm sure the neighbors hated it but he would make the lights and sirens go off before he'd leave."
Sixteen years have passed since Officer James Rapozo was killed in the line of duty during a shootout and SWAT standoff at the Visalia apartment complex. But for many in the Central Valley community his tragic death seems like it was not that long ago
Captain Jason Salazar with the Visalia Police Department was on the SWAT call with James Rapozo.
"Jim was a training officer so his impact on a number of us as we started in this profession was pretty profound," Salazar said
Megan says growing up her stepdad offered support as she continued to struggle with her father's absence.
"He goes to the memorials with us, he does what a lot of people can't do which is literally living with a ghost basically," Rapozo said.
Now Megan is taking that support to combine her two loves communication and law enforcement.
"Getting recruitment up by using social media and really doing more of the fun things that people like talking about, the K-9 team talking about pal," Rapozo said.
Salazar describes Megan as hard working and determined just like her father. Salazar is thrilled and proud to have another Rapozo in law enforcement.
"It's exciting, Jim would be very proud, all of us here at the VPD family are very proud of her and excited to see what she's going to do," Salazar
"Some of them have cracked jokes you know, we're going to steal you from this department kind of thing but I think that's how they let me know that they love me and that they're just glad I'm here and that I'm working," Rapozo said.
Megan Rapozo will begin working fulltime as the public information officer for the Tulare County Sheriff's Office this summer.