Behind and Beyond the Badge

Stories From the Village of First Responders With Cops, Firefighters, Dispatchers, Forensics and Victim Advocates

Non-Fiction - General
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 09/08/2017
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Author Biography

Donna Brown began her twenty- six-year career in law enforcement when women were still relatively new to the profession. Like most new police officers, Donna began her career working the streets answering calls for service. She then started training new recruits and turned that passion into teaching department wide, at the academy, and to community groups.
When she was promoted to sergeant, she remained on the streets and continued training new recruits. Career progression moved Donna to the Criminal Investigation Division where she spent fifteen years, ten years supervising the Homicide Unit.
Donna received the Tallahassee Police Department’s award for bravery and the inaugural Commander and Chief’s Award for Excellence, which at that time was the department’s award for Officer of the Year. She was also recognized for her part with the Tallahassee Police Department’s team that responded to South Florida days after Hurricane Andrew devastated that area.
Donna knows that there is so much more behind the badge that people don’t realize or understand. She had spent much of her career speaking to citizen groups in hope of educating and broadening minds about law enforcement.
She grew up in Titusville, Florida and after graduating from Astronaut High School, she moved to Tallahassee, Florida, obtaining her bachelor of science degree from Florida State University in 1979. She’s a proud Seminole!
Donna is married, and together, they enjoy spending time with their four-legged fur babies, friends, and family, as well as playing golf.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

Behind and Beyond the Badge: Stories from the Village of First Responders with Cops, Firefighters, Dispatchers, Forensics and Victim Advocates by Donna Brown is a compelling book that will change the way most people see officers with Police and First Responder badges, a compendium of stories that feature people who put their lives in danger in order to protect the lives of others and who, unfortunately, receive very little appreciation from most people. Written by a career professional who spent twenty-six years as a detective sergeant in the Homicide Unit, this book explores the thrills and perils of being a front line defender of life, of risking one’s life for one’s community, and the uncertainty and the fears that accompany the job.

Readers will encounter heroes in this book, people who have their own personal struggles to face, their fears to overcome, and loved ones to look after. It features endearing stories that showcase the joy of serving and what it takes to protect the lives of others. Readers will find themselves smiling as they read some of these stories. At times they will be silently applauding the people behind the badges whose stories are featured in the book. At other times, they will share their sympathy and pain as they narrate stories of loss. Behind and Beyond the Badge: Stories from the Village of First Responders with Cops, Firefighters, Dispatchers, Forensics and Victim Advocates is beautifully written to entertain and inform readers about what life behind the badge looks like. Donna Brown is a gifted writer and readers will love the beauty and the simplicity of her prose.

Ray Simmons

I am not residing in the United States right now but I feel, based on past personal experience and what I read in the news, that we have a problem with policemen. Part of it is who we choose. Part of it is how we train them. But a lot of it is who we are, who they are, and what we expect from them and what they expect from us. This whole dynamic needs to be examined closely. One thing I know for sure. Books like Behind and Beyond the Badge by Donna Brown will help us get to that ideal relationship between the police and the policed a lot sooner. I liked this book. I liked it because I have worn a uniform. It wasn’t a policeman’s uniform but an Army uniform. I know for a fact that a lot of my brothers-in-arms go on to work in law enforcement and I realize both uniforms can be misunderstood.

I liked Behind and Beyond the Badge because it has stories and thoughts about the job of being a policeman by the policemen themselves. This is important. Donna Brown writes well and has a real talent for not only recording what the policemen say, but also what they mean and what it means for us. Behind and Beyond the Badge is well thought out and researched. It is the story of a whole range of first responders who rush toward danger because it is their duty and their calling. This is a well written book and it would behoove us to read it and get a glimpse into the lives of these men.

Arya Fomonyuy

Behind and Beyond the Badge: Stories from the Village of First Responders with Cops, Firefighters, Dispatchers, Forensics and Victim Advocates by Donna Brown is nonfiction that brings the lives of people who wear badges — cops, firefighters, dispatchers, and others — to readers. Very often when we read about people fighting to protect others from danger and from the hazards of life, it is often about controversial topics related to violence. But in this book, the author brings together stories from people who dedicate their lives to saving others and they do so in situations that inspire fear and that put their own lives in danger. What makes these heroes different from the rest of us? Nothing! They are men and women who have their own unique fears, family responsibilities, and shortcomings. But they are people who risk their families, their lives, and more, to ensure that others are safe.

Here is a book that offers a fresh perspective on how we should look at people behind the badge. Yes, because behind the badge are people who are scared like you and I, people who embrace uncertainty, people who know that a stray bullet can end their dreams and bring suffering to their loved ones. One can’t read these sensational, emotionally charged and highly informative stories without having sympathy for the characters. Behind and Beyond the Badge is well-written and I enjoyed the friendly style of writing which makes the stories both exciting and accessible. Donna Brown allows readers to walk alongside first responder professionals, feeling their emotions, and experiencing their fears and hopes. You’ll be transported into a unique and different world from the one the media talks about.

Jessyca Garcia

Donna Brown’s Behind and Beyond the Badge was an interesting and inspiring read. Brown has honored 21 first responders by telling their stories. She asked each one what their career defining moment was. This book tells readers why these first responders do the job that they do. I chose to read Behind and Beyond the Badge because I have always found police work and their stories fascinating. Brown has earned my respect as an officer and I would love to hear more of her personal stories involving her job. I really liked that Brown included so many first responders that were women in this book. That was very inspiring! Especially to my daughter who wants to be a firefighter when she grows up. This book shows that women can do the job just as well as men. Some of the career defining moments that the officers had were eye-opening to me.

People expect the police to do their job without knowing what it really takes to do the job. A lot of the things the police and other first responders witness is not something everyone can handle. My only complaint about the book is that Brown abbreviated the first responder lingo. The first time the term was used she would say what it stood for, but my problem was I could not remember what it stood for the next time it would come around. Other than that, I really liked this book. If you are thinking of becoming a first responder, then I suggest you read this book. These careers are not for everyone. It may help you decide if it is the career you want.

Deborah Lloyd

After a twenty-six-year career as a law enforcement officer, Donna Brown has found a new passion in her retirement years – helping fellow officers to become healthy in retirement, and writing this important book. As the title indicates, Donna interviewed a number of police officers and other personnel after they retired and, in a few cases, left their jobs. Their stories are honest; sometimes heartwarming and other times heartrending; and always poignant. It is truly amazing how many of these officers, during retirement years, continue to serve their communities. She also highlights how difficult it is to maintain good physical health, emotional balance and a strong family life during years of dealing with the stresses and trauma of this work. In Behind and Beyond the Badge: Stories from the Village of First Responders with Cops, Firefighters, Dispatchers, Forensics, and Victim Advocates, author Donna Brown presents a variety of true stories, with the right amount of balance between the deep commitment to serving others and tragic events.

The author’s writing style is easy to read; she is organized, makes her point and then moves on to the next subject. While there is great emotion expressed at times, it is never too sentimental, nor too disturbing. There is pragmatic wisdom woven within her stories. Her expression of gratitude to each one at the end of the chapter is wonderful. Every reader will grow in appreciation for those who keep us safe, thanks to Donna Brown’s book, Behind and Beyond the Badge.

Lori Moore

Behind and Beyond the Badge by Donna Brown is a collection of “stories from the village of first responders with cops, firefighters, dispatchers, forensics, and victim advocates” that is dedicated to the thousands of men and women who have died in the line of duty while serving their communities. It will appeal to those who are retired law enforcement officers, paramedics, firefighters, and the families of those in uniform who served and protected their cities and counties. Stories and backgrounds are provided from thirteen law enforcement officers and eight first responders, including what drew them to their professions, what positions they held, and what they’ve done post-retirement.

I picked up this copy of Donna Brown’s Behind and Beyond the Badge because I’m married to a retired police officer and understand all of the trials and tribulations that he survived during his 23 years in law enforcement. The book does provide hope for retired law enforcement officers who may be struggling with what to do after their career ends and how to retire peacefully, which is often a difficult thing for those who have lived such active stressful careers. While I didn’t quite get what I expected in terms of stories of endurance and survival of how the public treats our police and first responders, and the terrible things they have to endure, I did find well-written and thoughtful stories about 21 heroes who dedicated their lives to serving others. Each person’s history is laid out well and allows the reader to connect with him or her.

Dr. William Doerner


riveting probe into the inner trials and tribulations that

many members of the law enforcement community

endure during the course of their public service

careers. The author applies her honed investigative skills

to put the human dimension on full display. She artfully

draws back the curtains that shroud the inner sanctuary

of the police world and then escorts the reader into that

inner circle. In one sense, this book is the law

enforcement version of Dante’s Inferno. Some travelers

emerge relatively unscathed; others grapple mightily with

their inner turmoil. Eventually, they forge ahead and gain

passage to an entirely new path in their journey through



Professor (Retired)

College of Criminology & Criminal Justice

Florida State University

Author of Victimology and Introduction to Law

Enforcement: An Insider’s View

Trish England

“As a retired law enforcement officer, BEHIND AND

BEYOND THE BADGE made me proud as I read it. I

know how special the folks were that I worked with for so

many years, but to read about the people contained

within these pages was just inspirational. This book is for

everyone, first responder or not. It’s a fast read with a

huge ‘wow factor’ at the end of each story.”

Trish England

Sergeant (Retired)

Florida Highway Patrol

William Mark


collection of stories coming straight from the law

enforcement and first-responder communities. The

stories provide details and highlights of hard-earned

careers to include tragic officer deaths, violent crimes,

and the bitter worst of humanity. But through it all, the

duty of service persevered, and they survived to make it

to the next stage in life, what new author Donna Brown

calls ‘Phase 2.’ Brown, a retired police officer with an

incredible resume in her own right, believes that making

it to retirement to enjoy life in the next phase is what

each and every law enforcement officer should strive

for. She sums it up with a great quote, ‘You spent many

years giving OF yourself; it's time to give TO yourself.’

For the past, present, and future law enforcement

officers and first responders, this is a must read.


Award-winning author of Crossing the Blue Line and

From Behind the Blue Line

Dr. Cheryl A. Rainey

“Donna thank you! Thank you for sharing your story and

the stories of many others who risked their lives in the

service of saving lives and ensuring a community of

safety and well-being. Your book is heartfelt; it’s filled

with interesting and uplifting stories of real people who

made a significant difference and continue to do so in

their ‘PHASE 2’ life.”


Psychotherapist and Leadership Management Consultant

Former First Responder, State of Florida

Author of How to Hire and Keep a Winning Team, To the

Top: How Extraordinary Leaders Lead in the Zone, and A

Recipe for Silicon Valley Success?

Amber Daughtry

This book provides a new perspective for law enforcement and "the village" surrounding them as well as the "retirement club" we find ourselves in when the LEO career is over. Usually the retirement club membership ends quickly for officers, so the book's emphasis on the rest of your life is a new direction for most. Stories are from officers, troopers, victim advocates, support staff, survivors of line of duty death, doctors and more. These are real live people!!! It's not fiction. Brown covered many in and around the profession and it gives new light from different angles.

The stories and facts made it a page turner. I love the way everyone had such positive things to say.

Nicole's story brings me to tears and my heart rips for her so I'd have to say it was my favorite story but learning little known facts about others was also wonderful. Some had "career changing moments" while others love it every minute for many reasons as most cops do they answer "the calling " to serve their community. The stories are priceless and I'm glad they're ready to be heard

I did not put it down.

Natalia Duran

Donna Brown captures the heart of who we really are. Human beings that have fulfilled a calling to serve others, the resiliency factor we must practice to be able to come home to our families and friends, pretending it's been just another normal day at the office. Love my public safety family and all that they are. THANK YOU for your service and sacrifices.

Wayne D. Sizemore

Excellent read, provides insight of the First Responders, their lives, their loves, tragedies, triumphs that make up the person. More than just a uniform.

John Harris

GREAT READING STORY a law enforcement officer who has walked the walked!!

Maria Mercurio

Great read!


As a civilian, I found this book to be a great insight into some of the challenges that our first responders face in their daily lives. I also feel we can gain so much insight by listening to the stories of those who have gone before, so I appreciated reading about the many different ways the people in the book have approached their retirements. I found a common theme of finding balance, protecting your health, and engaging in your community. I look forward to putting some of the insights I read to use in my own life. A great collection of stories and an easy read. Well done!


Within moments of cracking open the pages of my freshly delivered hardback copy, I was in tears. The stories were translated to paper beautifully and each persons life had me feeling inspired to support our first responders even more than I already do. As the wife of a police officer, sister of a police officer and friend to many other first responders, I'm proud to be part of this family. Thank you Donna for such a special tribute...I especially loved chapters 13 & 14! :)

Marcus D. Strickland

In an effort to be fully transparent. I am one of those whose story is so eloquently presented by the author. I was truly honored to be asked to participate in this project, until I read it. Now, I am truly humbled to be in such an amazing group of members of “the village”…honored still…but well and truly humbled. Assisting Sgt. Brown in this herculean effort, on her part, was at times very cathartic for me, being asked to recall and examine times that were truly personal and having never been shared. The reading of this book was a further catharsis, emotional, and uplifting. In some instances I learned things about those whom I have known for decades, in others I found that during mutually shared challenging times…I had not been alone. You see, those of us who are called to a career as a first responder can’t do our jobs…to help others…if we are taking care of ourselves…our “stuff”. So we build layers of emotional callous on those things that are, all too often, too horrible to comprehend and definitely too horrible to share with those who aren’t called. This book should be required reading for EVERYONE!!!!!...First responders…potential first responders…their friends and families…your average citizen…there is something for everyone in this book. Those that are called are from all genders…races…creeds…backgrounds…just like those we serve. This book is the first that I recall that shows that diversity. Maybe if society was more like those who serve…able to unite…no matter our differences for the common good we wouldn’t be so divisive…as I said there is something for everyone in this book…and I highly recommend it!!!!!

S. Nelson

Donna Brown offers a fresh perspective for those, like me, who want to better understand the call to serve as a first responder. Not all of us have been privy, before this book, to understand the stresses and risks, and the intrinsic rewards so well described by our author. It is also heartening to read about so many continuing to serve their communities/families/themselves in their lives beyond the badge. Each of the stories are engaging and insightful. I highly recommend buying and reading this book.

Lois DiLibero

Police officers are real people just like you and me. A lot of people have misconceptions of police officers, but Donna Brown brings it all to reality. I enjoyed reading about their personal lives and the impact of serving as a law enforcer has on them. If you or any family member, or friends have someone involved in law enforcement, I highly recommend reading this book. Well written and very real!!

Nancy Hawkes

I loved the book!
Being the wife of one of the people featured in your book, I am honored and even more respectful of my husband,
and all who serve to make our lives a safer place.
The book allows you to see a real person not just a job.
Thank you Donna for sharing their (and your) stories!

Francis Doolan

I have known Donna Brown for 27 years. Donna was Sergeant in charge of a FTO squad on which I had the honor to have been a Field Training Officer. Donna is one of the finest people I have ever had the pleasure to have known and I benefited professionally from our working relationship and personally from our subsequent friendship. With the release of her book "Behind and Beyond the Badge" Donna Brown has provided an opportunity for readers to step inside the "thin blue line" and read real accounts of men and women who place themselves in harms way to protect citizens and serve their respective communities. Donna includes the thoughts and actions of other members of the law enforcement community such as dispatchers, crime scene technicians and victim advocates as well as officers from other agencies. It was a great read. I picked it up and could not put it down until I finished reading the last page. A truly great "Cop" story.