Today’s #YOUAREGOVX member felt the call to serve in more ways than one. Richard served 12 years in the USMC Reserve and found his passion with Southern California law enforcement. Read on about finding one’s path, working the cases, and relying on the multitude of support from fellow officers.
Can you give us a brief look at your service history?
In 1988, joined the Marine Reserves when I was 22 years old. Even though I was working and had attended some college, I didn’t feel like I had any direction. I felt this need to serve in some capacity. My father and my uncle were in the Navy during the 50s, and I had two great uncles who served in World War II. One day, I talked with a recruiter and chose to enlist. I needed a challenge, and the Marines looked like the best bet. Being a Marine helped me focus. It provided me with the direction I needed. I served 12 years in the Reserves and reached the rank of Staff Sergeant.
While serving in the reserves, I also decided to enter law enforcement. I’d mulled over the decision for a while, and only after going into the Marines did I put it into motion. My father was a long-time officer in So Cal, and also Nevada, and so I had a small understanding about the job. It was a natural choice to become a law enforcement officer, as I could not picture myself in any other career. This may sound trite to some people, but I wanted to be there for people who couldn’t help themselves. I’ve been in law enforcement for 17 years and currently serve as an Investigator III.
What is most rewarding about your job? The most challenging?
Every time I make a good arrest after a lengthy investigation, that’s a significant reward. When you work a case for so long, such as a sexual assault or a child abuse case, you want to see it from beginning to end. After seeing the victim’s emotional anguish, interviewing them and hearing every painful detail … getting that guilty verdict with a long sentence attached to it is a rewarding experience. In the courtroom, you see the victim’s face when the verdict is read. You see their family’s faces.
You have to remain a bit detached so you can do your job and bring the case to a justified conclusion. Sometimes the details can be pretty disturbing, but you can’t let them get to you. It’s after the case is done when it gets to you. Being able to release the tension you’ve held on to after hearing the guilty verdict is part of the job.
How do you rely on your colleagues?
For the reasons above, one of the most valued qualities my colleagues and I enjoy around the office is humor. With what we deal with on a daily basis, it’s not just high stress, it’s also the mundane things. When you’re called out at 2100 and end up working 12+ hours, some investigations can really drain you. That’s why a joke or two—be it a dark one or a lighthearted one—can alleviate exhaustion and frustration. It can give you a lift to keep you charging forward. (Our humor is sort of a “you had to be there” thing so I really can’t provide an example that would make much sense.)
I count on my colleagues for more than just emotional support too. Throughout my career I’ve depended on their backup wherever I go. Early in my career, I was a deputy on patrol with my partner, and we got into an altercation with a suspect high on methamphetamine. I was injured, and we both had to fight the suspect until backup arrived. We were out on the edge of our area, so backup was about ten minutes out. My partner was a female, very slight in build, and the suspect was a big guy. After I got injured, I was concerned for her, but she held her own with the big guy long enough for backup to arrive. Goes to show it doesn’t matter how big you are, you always take a stand when someone is counting on you.
When the uniform comes off, what kind of recreation do you enjoy?
I like to spent time with my wife and son. We try to go camping when we can, spending time in the Central Coast. I also enjoyed riding my road bike, which was a great way for me to stay in shape, and something I dearly need to reprise. And when I can, I like to get out and go hunting with my brother-in-law.
Do you have a life motto?
“Our greatest strength lies not in never having fallen, but in rising every time we fall.” There will always be a time in your life when you encounter setbacks. Using a mindset like this sees you through it and makes you stronger.