Tell us a little about yourself (how long you have been on) and what you have done in your career with the Sheriff’s Department. Also, tell us about your military background.
I joined the United States Marine Corps in January of 2001 and ended my active enlistment in March of 2005. I continued serving my country in a reserve component until 2009, rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the corps for the opportunities I was subsequently afforded. I always had an interest in law enforcement and was ultimately hired by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department in January of 2007.
I attended the 18th Detentions/Court Services Academy. Upon graduating I was assigned to the George Bailey Detention Facility. Although I was eager to return to the academy to become a law enforcement deputy in the field, I can honestly say my experience in the detention facility was the most valuable of my career. I learned the culture, vernacular and infrastructure of those incarcerated individuals. I developed communication skills that allowed me to deescalate situations or garner information if needed.
In June of 2008 I attended the San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Academy. I graduated as the overall Honor Graduate from the academy and had the opportunity to select my patrol station. I selected the Poway Patrol Station where I spent nearly three years working patrol. Ready for a change, I transferred to the Fallbrook Patrol Substation. Shortly after transferring I was selected as Training Officer. After about six months as a Training Officer I was selected as the Station Training Coordinator. I remained in that billet until I was selected to work in Personnel as a Recruiter. I worked as a recruiter for approximately nine months prior to working my current billet as a Background Investigator.
How does the training in the academy compare to basic training?
I attended Marine Corps Basic Training for 13-weeks, San Diego County Sheriff’s Detentions Academy for 15-weeks and the San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Academy for 26-weeks. Although similar, I found law enforcement and military training vary is several aspects. In the military, service members are trained for combat in defense of our nation. In law enforcement, peace officers are trained to serve and protect the community. One of the more notable differences is the fact basic training is a “live-in” training environment. In the academy, training does not typically involve nights or weekends. Basic training and the academy are physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. One must rely on their partners to fully realize their individual potential. The camaraderie developed during both training venues is undeniable.
What was the biggest adjustment in transitioning from military to law enforcement?
The biggest adjustment, for me, was communication and humility. I became accustomed to “giving orders.” I communicated with Marines in a certain way in an effort to accomplish the mission. I had little regard for how the message was perceived so long as the task at hand was accomplished. I had to re-learn the art of communication in order to effectively communicate with individuals without military experience. Humility became my focus early on in my career. I felt a sense of entitlement for everything I accomplished in the Marine Corps. I did not take well to being screamed at by individuals who never served in my beloved corps. I later learned deputies with prior service law enforcement were beloved on the department; however, they were still expected to remain humble and work their way through the ranks.
Will my training/experience in the military be taken into consideration?
A service member’s training/experience may potentially make them more competitive during the background process. The department realizes the core values members of our armed forces possess. They understand the commitment one makes when electing to serve their country. Certain specialized positions such as SWAT and ASTREA rely heavily on service members with tactical and/or pilot experience. There are several other specialized positions that a deputy can apply for after two years of experience where military training may come into play.
Do you have any advice for service members considering a career in law enforcement?
Start early, start early, start early… I cannot stress the importance of beginning the application process approximately six months out from EAS. The early start is to avoid any employment gaps. Many service members express their desire for a “break” after service. Every month that passes by during the “break” is another month not being accounted for towards retirement. There will be plenty of opportunities for a break or vacation if hired by our department. I advise all transitioning service members to do their homework into their perspective agencies of interest. The selection process is extremely competitive and demanding. Enroll in school or continue your schooling if you are already enrolled. Furthering your education will make you a more qualified and viable candidate.
What about retired service members that are concerned with their physical fitness level?
I understand retired service members, akin to many potential candidates, have concerns regarding physical fitness. Fitness is a lifestyle, it is the one thing candidates can control leading into an academy. As we progress in age our recovery time tends to lag. The academy will undoubtedly be physically demanding and put recovery time to the test. Entering the academy physically prepared is paramount. Diet and nutrition play an active role in one’s overall health and conditioning. Eat healthy and exercise regularly as you train for the academy. A partner of mine, retired Command Master Chief, entered the academy at 55 years of age and successfully completed the academy. Success is a mindset. I always say, “If it’s been done, it can be done. If it has not been done, there is a first for everything.” Believe in yourself and trust in your abilities.