Service history: Sheriff’s department; Over 7.5 years
Additional fieldwork Patrol, search and rescue
Motto to live by: Proverbs 3:5-6
Reflection on the job:
I trained for months at the Search and Rescue Academy. Our final exam was an eight-mile qualification hike followed by an overnight field exercise/skills test. All throughout the academy, we had been told that the overnight was mandatory. Failure to attend would result in dismissal. No exceptions.
The day started off with the 8-mile hike. I finished the hike ahead of schedule and returned to the staging area. As soon as I dropped my pack, our sergeant—now a friend of mine named Don—passed word that I was to report to him immediately. I thought I was going to be reprimanded for something.
He looked at me and gave me a radio. My mother was on the other end, and told me my father just got into a bad motorcycle accident. LifeFlight was en route, but it didn’t look good. Don heard all of this and told me to just get in the truck. He knew where my family lived and got me home as quickly as he could.
As soon as I walked in the door, I could hear my Mom and sister crying their hearts out. I walked into our kitchen where our family had thousands of family dinners to find my Mom and my sister in a tight, desperate embrace. I knew what happened. Words weren’t necessary or even possible. My father and best friend, had died.
While I sat with my family, Don radioed the rest of the academy staff to inform them of what had happened. Shortly after, the doorbell rang and I found my two best friends from the academy, Dan and Mike, standing at the door. They gave me a big hug, no words. I asked them what they were doing here and that they couldn’t miss the field exercise or they would fail. “Don’t worry about that. The only place for us to be is right here with you and your family.” Don nodded in approval.
I told Don and Mike that my dad had died in rural Arizona and we were about to leave to see him. They dropped everything and accompanied me and my family the entire way to help us bring him home. Dan and Mike both had a wife and kids at home. They still dropped everything. Don and our other friend Chris, pulled all the strings they needed to at the department to make sure we graduated anyway.
That was the moment when I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt I wanted to be a cop. I wanted to contribute. I wanted to be part of this brotherhood. To give something back to this family of strangers who had taken me in without question even though I wasn’t one of them, yet. I wanted to have their back as a way of thanking them for having mine on the worst day of my life. That day reminded me that in the darkest hour, great people shine their brightest.