I was born into a blue-collar family. We had a neighbor who lived across the street who was a policeman, Officer Richard. Every time he saw us, kids, he would stop and chat with us for a few minutes. He was a good storyteller, and I loved listening to his stories. From him, I learned that to be a policeman is all about helping other people. He would always say that everyone makes mistakes, but you need to learn from them and move forward. He was my role model, and I knew that I’d be a policeman when I grew up.
After graduating from high school, I became a police officer in Florida. I still remember my first call: It was a call for a runaway juvenile. I spoke with her parents and learned from them that Jennifer was a troubled kid. The next day I went to her house to follow up, and she had come home. As soon as she saw me, she became agitated. For her, I was just a uniform who was there to preach to her how to live her life. I listened to her without saying one word for more than an hour. After she was done talking, I asked her what I could do to help her. She laughed and said that she doesn’t need anyone’s help, but she could use some money. I replied that I could help her find a part-time job. She didn’t say anything. I left her house and went to the local grocery store. I spoke with the manager of the store and asked him whether they had any part-time jobs available. The store manager told me that the store had a vacancy for a cashier’s position. I went back to her house and asked the kid whether she was willing to work as a cashier. She agreed. I gave her my personal phone number and told her not to hesitate to call me if she needed to speak to someone. Two months later, I went to the store and saw Jennifer working at the cash register. She saw me and smiled. I was happy to see her. At that moment, I thought about Officer Richard, how he’d be proud to see me doing things he believed in.
After that, I learned I could do more to help the local community. I created the a Back to School program where 300 children from the Boys and Girls Club would be taken by bus to the local Wal-Mart, where each would receive a $125.00 gift card to shop for school clothes. I contacted the local bicycle stores and asked them whether they could donate unwanted bicycles. I also organized a few charity events: golf tournaments, car shows, and other such affairs, where we raised money for elementary and middle school students. My effort was so successful that I was able to raise almost $35.000 annually.
Now, I’m retired but still working as an Uber driver, and I enjoy communicating with people. My daughter decided to follow my path to become a police officer. She will be graduating from the police academy soon. I can’t wait to see her in a police uniform.