Real life experiences from Maryland
Every single one of us has a beginning to our story, and unfortunately, our ending will come as well, but how it ends is totally up to you. Just like a baby that comes into this world and grows up to be a fully functional adult, unless other medical or mental issues take hold of that person and directs otherwise. The start of my law enforcement career was a challenging one, but nothing that I wasn’t prepared to handle, at least mentally, and the physical part came dragging right behind me. In high school I played sports, and the first three years was either soccer or baseball. However, in my senior year in high school I played varsity baseball, varsity soccer and football all close together. At one point I found myself running from one soccer match, which we lost horribly, and traveling back across town to get prepared for our Friday night football game. Although I was only just a place kicker for the team, I still had to get warmed up and be prepared to go in whenever I was needed, but I never saw the field that night.
It was always placed on me when I was growing up, by my mother, that I would either be in the military or a criminal. That sounds kind of weird for some, and may be even kind of a set-up for the worse in me, but the way I snuck around the house scaring people made her speak that statement. For the longest time I had the goal of wanting to be a state trooper, wearing that Stetson with the brown and tan colors of the Maryland State Police, and driving those oddly designed patrol cars, but later on that was changed. However, my dream of becoming a police officer was definitely solidified when I was robbed at gun point, which later turned out to be a bb gun, for my 15 speed bike that I had practically begged my best friend to have. Thank God we had a police officer living in the neighborhood, and thanked the two young boys that witnessed it and biked home to tell the county officer. Once my statement was made, and I identified the suspect vehicle and one of the two suspects, the case was practically solved within 24 to 48 hours after it had happened. All this took place in the hot, humid and sticky summer of 1997, which later that year I joined the Prince George’s County Law Enforcement Explorers Post 222; located in Bowie, Maryland.
I first joined the police explorer program on the advice of the detective who took over my armed robbery case, and I want to personally thank her for that direction and mark her as one of the people in my life to put me where I am today. Thankfully, the suspect plead guilty for the charges he was faced with and kept me from having to testify on the stand for the state. As I got into further dealings with the police explorer program, I was made the rank of captain, which put a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders, but I was up for the challenge. This is where I had to learn how to deal with the public and get my first insight on how police work and operate. I did plenty of charity and public showings, and especially dressed up as McGruff numerous times with the fan not working sometimes during those brutal summer months. I did a few television interviews with local channel stations, which I never saw myself, and got to meet a lot of officers throughout the county. Perhaps the most important part of the journey there was when our post won the volleyball gold medal in the Explorer Olympics, against the United States Park Police program. Also, later during that weekend I ran the 400 meter race and came in first place, although my run time would be considered a disastrous and an embarrassment to the professional standards.
My reign as captain, leader of the group, ended when I was scheduled to go to military boot camp in the fall of 1998. The previous year, the same year when I was robbed at gun point, my father, who is a navy veteran, did his best to block me from joining the military, or I should say the Army. No matter what my motive was and no matter what my reasons were, it wasn’t good enough, however, pushing me towards the United States Coast Guard was the goal for THEM! This was one of the few times I’m glad I remained strong headed and stubborned, and the backing of my mother was surely a helping hand. I think the straw that broke the camels back is when my father actually brought me paperwork to join the U.S. Coast Guard, which I voiced against, to me in the basement one night. His side of the family wanted me to go one way and my mother side wanted me to go the way I wanted to go, but this night it all came to a massive head. Several minutes later, my mother came downstairs and saw me in tears due to frustration and anger that my father wasn’t listening to me, and kept trying to push me in a direction he wanted.
That night my mother laid into my father about trying to push me towards a direction that I didn’t want to go. The only voice you could hear for a while was my mother’s voice, and how she backed me in my journey of wanting to join the Army. To give you a better sense of how my father made a negative impression with this blockade, the recruiter called me a year later and asked me again if I wanted to join the National Guard still. Of course, I was at the age of 18 and my father couldn’t block me anymore from joining the branch I so desired to join. I even told him with a smile on my face when he came home, and didn’t give a shit whether he liked it or not. My mother, and I, saw it as an opportunity to begin a journey of my own path and start my career with a stepping stone. I finally signed my name on the dotted line and became a Military Policeman with the 290th Military Police Company. One of the saddest moments, however, was when I finally left the house heading for basic training in Ft. McClellan, Alabama. A sergeant came to the house to pick me up, and I had explained to my mother and younger sister, who years later joined the Marines, that once out the door I will not be looking back. I kept that promise and never saw my home again until four months later when I returned home nearly thirty pounds lighter.
Those four months at Ft. McClellan were brutal when I suffered through the last four weeks of winter and my last weeks of summer there. It was a damn issue when the temperatures reached the mid 90’s with humidity already near 100%! I made it through, but I ended up with suffering a heat injury halfway through Military Police School, which once in a while still sits with me today. The day of graduation, in June 1999, the family came down, even the ones that decided against me joining the Army or the military altogether, and acted like they were happy for me. I knew better, but I allowed them to have their shine with others since it was going to be a very long ride from Huntsville, Alabama back to the D.C. area. Time back home to enjoy the civilian amenities were short-lived when my first orders were to join my new unit for Annual Training in Panama for two weeks. I thought the hot weather in Alabama was rough, but the temperatures in Panama made the experience in Alabama like winter lasted an extra four months. Pressing your uniform was basically a moot point since the humidity, by noon, would make your uniform look like you slept in it the night before. Of course, the arrogant and stupidity of some officers were expressed when they got mad about our uniforms looking like shit, when they fully knew that the humidity killed it every time. However, when you are in the officer all the time, your uniform would look crisp and clean, and not full of sweat and road dust from cars entering and leaving the base. We did have a view of the Panama Canal if you was working one of the main entry points facing the waterways, which were a few miles away.
I was mistaken as Panamanian, Dominican, Mexican and even Columbian by the natives, and other fellow soldiers. That would explain why most of the natives would speak to me in their native tongue, and of course, I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. Then also, when our unit went to Manheim, Germany in 2001, I believed I was mistaken to be Turkish, which if true, save my friend’s life because many Turks in the country hated American blood, it was no mistaken him to be American. My very first taste of being a military policeman, full-time, would come just a few years later after my graduation of basic training, and would eventually catapult me into my career today. The start of my civilian police career would also face challenges as our country was engaged in a war that many Americans, including military service members, figured we didn’t need to be part of, except invading the country of Afghanistan. So I have been engaged in the law enforcement field for over 17 years, and have seen and been through a lot, as many other veterans and police veterans have faced a lot. Although, I was able to postpone my basic training schedule from September 1998 to February 1999, so I could finish business school, I still ended up graduating from Fleet Business School in August 1999, after making up several days missed. My unit was filled with several soldiers as full-time police officers, and ones that were inspired to become police officers, and nearly everyone tried to recruit me for their agency. Knowing myself, I wanted to go somewhere on my own path and not follow others down an already grooved road. When 9/11 happened, I was in the middle of the hiring process with a few agencies, and of course, I had to exit those processes to go serve my country. Once that tour ended, Operation Noble Eagle, I reinserted myself back into the hiring process of a couple of agencies again and got hired by one finally, the University of Maryland Police Department (College Park campus).
The career that I’ve been wanting for the longest time is now starting to pick up steam, and the events that followed after my hire is what leads me being the person I am today. God only knew that the beginning of my career, and life, at this point would take a wild ride, that none of us were prepared for.