Photo Courtesy by Officer Juan Estrada
El Camino Real Charter

The grass is greener with LAPD

When I was little my dad and I used to spend our Sunday mornings sipping chocolate milk and coffee while watching the news. On the news there was always something being said about the police and most of the time, it was always something negative.

My television always showed a video of policemen being targeted for police brutality against African Americans or Hispanics. I being a Hispanic young girl, was automatically triggered by this.

Although cops weren’t exactly beating my family members up, I felt hatred and disgust towards them. I thought to myself, “They’re here to keep us safe, if this is what ‘safe’ looks like I no longer wish to be part of the community they are intended to protect and serve.”

My first encounter with an actual cop was at the age of 11. I had witnessed my mom receive a traffic ticket and the cop had the audacity to hand me a sticker in the shape of their badge. After that I wasn’t really fond of the police either because my mom didn’t have much money to spend carelessly, especially not on some piece of paper and because my television had always told me that cops didn’t exactly “protect and serve”.

Two years later my mom dragged me to the Topanga Police station to enroll me into a program called the Los Angeles Police Department Cadet Leadership Program. The name alone intimidated me.

When we walked inside, we were greeted by a tall, bald man named Officer Greg Archambault. He gave me a toothy grin and began to ask me a bunch of questions that my awkward 9-year-old self didn’t know how to answer.

After what seemed an eternity, we filled out an application and Officer Archambault told me to come the following Wednesday locked on; meaning I was to expect the unexpected and ready to learn about leadership. So I did, for seven consecutive years, except Wednesdays are now Tuesdays and I am no longer a shy little girl with the mindset of police officers going around beating up “minorities.”

Along with meeting Officer Archambault, I also came across Officer Ken Johnson and Sergeant Trevion Stokes. All three are helping me develop into this “bright and intelligent girl” as they like to say. Not only did they help me become a confident different person but they made me realize that the LAPD is given such a bad stereotype, there is no need for officers to wake up at 3 a.m. to drive us to certain events or leave the station after 10 p.m. They do all of that because they truly care about the program and the kids in it.

I have witnessed the amount of effort they put into helping young adults obtain not only the quality of leadership but as well as responsibility, maturity and integrity. Besides receiving knowledge from these officers, I have also seen how they mentor each kid believing that we, as young adults are the future and because of that they devote all that they have into shaping us into what they know the world will eventually be in need of.

One may have a biased opinion on police officers but before one goes and insult them, please remember they go out there every day risking their lives to provide the community a service. Some of them at times don’t make it back to their wives, husbands, son or daughters.

Over the course of seven years, I can safely say that these police officers do protect and serve this community

I used to be so embarrassed of saying I was part of this program because I would often get teased and would get comments that made me question whether or not I wanted to continue going to cadets. After a while I began to speak to Officer Archambault about this and he made me realize that most people see only what they desire to see.

“They see your badge first rather than your face and automatically assume things,” he said.

When I tell people who I am in this program they automatically think I want to be a cop. They don’t listen to the title of the program, they ignore the leadership part and only stick to the police department part.

Some of my friends would say, “You have been part of that cadet program since you were 9 years old, if you don’t want to be a cop by now didn’t you just practically waste seven years of your life?”

Although I don’t necessarily want to be a police officer I know deep inside I didn’t waste seven years of my life. I learned and will continue to learn more through cadets.

Cops aren’t as bad as the news make them seem, one has to realize that they are made of flesh and bones just like us, they have worries and stress just like us. They have feelings just like us and they’re just as human as we are.