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Committed to Service: A Deputy’s Journey

Sheriff’s Deputy Zac Burke leans on community outreach to bolster public safety

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – “You’re not in any trouble.” These are the first words spoken by Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy Zac Burke. The man who has been pulled over for out-of-compliance registration is a Doordash delivery driver and does not speak English. Deputy Burke recognizes this and knows a calm demeanor – with the help of his broken Spanish – is critical to putting the man at ease. His main goal: to help this person learn how to take his car to the DMV to get it registered.
Moments like this is where Deputy Burke shines – not just through enforcement, but also through community connection and public service.
Deputy Burke has been on the force for about five years and he loves what he does. He grew up in Cupertino, the city in which he now routinely patrols and serves. He had once dreamed of following in the footsteps of those wearing the same uniform, becoming a Youth Cadet while in high school. He now proudly wears the forest green uniform on his 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.
“I grew up in Cupertino. I see people that I knew before I did this job and I feel like I can make a positive impact on the community that raised me,” he said.
He acknowledged the stress and danger of his job, but time and experience taught him that empathy and compassion are critical to law enforcement.
“You are going to peoples’ houses on their worst days. Sometimes they have been the victims of violent crimes or a loved one has died,” he said. “You have to keep the order and enforce the law fairly and judiciously, but do so while being a person and letting people know that you’re there to help.”
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office offers protection to cities throughout the county that do not have formal police departments, including Saratoga, Los Altos Hills and Cupertino. The deputies work on all holidays, local events such as 49ers games at Levi’s Stadium, and throughout the night. Sheriff’s deputies also provide protection and support at the County’s various hospitals and clinics as well as Board Chambers at the County of Santa Clara Government Center.

Deputy Burke encourages anyone who is interested in a career in law enforcement to do their research or to ask him and other deputies questions about the job. He shares that it’s a worthwhile and fulfilling job, and that he wouldn’t have wanted to do anything else. “I still enjoy putting my uniform on everyday and I feel that I’m doing something to help my community," he said.
To find out more about the roles and responsibilities of deputies, e-mail the Recruitment Team at [email protected] or call (408) 808-4605.