Police Officer Risks Life and Faces Discrimination to Make Pasadena Safe

This Pasadena police officer opens up about the highs and lows of working in law enforcement. He also explains how his career has benefited through scholarships because of his bilingualism, despite that he has faced discrimination because of his ethnicity from his peers and the community.

I am a police officer with the Pasadena Police Department. I have worked for the City of Pasadena for three years after graduating from the police academy. If I had to describe myself in three adjectives, I would say that I am “tall,” “handsome,” and “nice.”

I am a Hispanic male, which has definitely helped me so far in my career. I received a scholarship for minority cadets from greater Los Angeles, which really helped make this job happen. I have experienced some discrimination on the job, mostly limited to racial insensitivity. One of the other cadets at the police academy asked me if I spoke English, and another guy called me a wetback during an argument. Of course, we get a lot of insults thrown at us by people in the community, but I don’t count those as discrimination. You’re just there to help people, and sometimes they don’t respond positively. That’s okay.

I would rate my job satisfaction as four out of ten because I don’t like the level of physical danger I have experienced as a police officer. I have had shots fired at me during two arrests, which really made me evaluate whether this was the career for me. I like serving the community, but I would really like to be an actor. I don’t feel like this is my calling, but I feel like I’m doing something good. I really want to act.

I got into police academy because of the pay, which might be a different situation for most police officers. In 2008, it was difficult to find good full-time work, but I had good grades in school and I was able to get into the police academy. I knew if I made it through. I would have a full-time job with benefits and a good salary, even if I wasn’t excited about the job all that much. If I could go back and do it differently, I might have applied to other jobs just to see what is out there. At this point, I’m locked into my job unless some of my acting auditions come through.

One thing I learned the hard way was how tough it is to be a police officer. On shows like COPS, being a policeman looks like a fun job, but most of the time, it’s sad or dangerous. I hate responding to domestic violence calls most of all. You meet these people and see their suffering, but you usually can’t do anything. I walk right back out of their lives and probably won’t see them again.

I learned a lot about the working world through this job. I never felt like school was preparing me for what I really wanted to do in life. I had real jobs growing up, and I learned a lot from them but being a police officer really taught me about how people live.

The strangest thing that ever happened to me was when some kids left a dozen donuts on the radio antenna of my cruiser. It was really weird.

I get up and go to work each day because I’m helping people. It really makes me feel good. I face a lot of challenges in this job, and, like I said, getting shot at was something that made me want to quit, but I know I’m doing something good. My job is stressful, but it’s manageable. My work-life balance is okay because I am unmarried and have no children. I get paid $52,000 per year, which is enough for me right now. I also get two weeks of paid vacation each year, which is great.

To get this job, you have to apply to the police academy and perform well. Most people do not need a college degree. If a friend were considering doing this, I would recommend they think about the physical danger and whether or not they can get shot at for a living. If you can, it’s a great job. In five years, I hope to be a professional actor, but if that doesn’t work out, I sure hope I’m still a police officer!

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  •  In 2008 it was hard to find good full-time work, but I had good grades in school and I was able to get into the police academy. I knew if I made it through I would have a full-time job with benefits and a good salary, even if I wasn’t excited about the job all that much. If I could go back and do it differently, I might have applied to other jobs just to see what is out there

  • I hate responding to domestic violence calls most of all. You meet these people, see their suffering, but you usually can’t do anything. I walk right back out of their lives and probably won’t see them again.

  • I am going to be freshman at Iowa State University. I plan on majoring in Criminal Justice and minoring in communications. After I graduate I will be attending the police academy. One of my main concerns is the dangers I will have to face in my time of duty. Also the fact that I’m a female Latina puts me in a position where I know I’ll be discriminated. However, that isn’t going to stop me. 

    Criminal Justice has been a career I want to be apart of. Having the responsibility of helping my community is something i look forward to. I want to provide safety to citizens. I don’t want people living in fear like I did growing up. I don’t plan on being a cop forever. I want to be an investigator and potentially work for the FBI.

  • I liked this career story very much, due to the fact that the police officer is speaking the truth about how he feels about his current career choice. I related to this story based on what my father went through as an officer himself. He told me stories on how he didn’t like his job as much as he hoped because of the things he saw or had to deal with, but he did mention that he got to help out a lot of people because of what he could do when wearing the badge or driving the police car. I have considered going into criminal justice to help the helpless, but when you hear stories about the high risk of violence involved in the job, it makes you reconsider some alternative choices.

  • Sometimes in life when you really love what you do, no matter how hard you have to work to get there it is always rewarding in the end. Through these struggles you also learn a lot of things not only about yourself but also about others. I found this story very inspiring and also relateable due to the honest nature of the author. I related to this story because like this Pasadena Officer I want to not only help people through my career but also to help animals and the environment. That is why I enjoyed this career story.

  • There are always ups and downs in life, but when you got the courage to keep going forward, keep progressing yourself, thats the best thing. Your story has so much inspiration. I use to want to be a police officer as well but then I started hearing about the training that you have to do and I have a very bad back so I wouldnt be able to do that. I was pretty torn up about that, with the army as well because i wasnt able to go into that either because of the training. Keep your head up and keep your faith alive! You sound like a very strong person that has courage to keep going forward and not fall back. I have good faith that you will do just fine. After every thunderstorm, there is always a rainbow.

  • I can definitely relate to this police officer I once was in a job where i really wanted to be somewhere else but it was a job, and i was grateful to have one. Being bilingual helped me a lot because in the area i lived in there were always people walking in that only spoke Spanish and usually i was the only one there that could talk to those people. One time it was hard because since i don’t have an accent in English i had one instance where a person thought i didn’t speak Spanish and i heard some rude comments about me in Spanish and i couldn’t say anything because i had to be professional. Working there i was discriminated against by clients because I was Hispanic. several times i had clients refuse to come to me and waited in line to see a different representative because of my race. On a positive now when ever I was able help someone by using my Spanish it felt good because i knew i was making that person feel more comfortable.

  • Being a police officer you get negative comments, everyone who overlooks a police officer’s job hates a cop until they’re in danger and needs the assistance from a police officer. I respect your honesty that although you’re a police it’s not something you want to do. I have friends and family members who wants to be a police officer and after reading this article it opened my eyes to the dangerous lifestyle that being a police officer entitles. I see that you get emotional tied to the people that you help as well. I can only imagine how this would affect your career as a police officer and would even make you want to leave this job even more.

    Your aspirations of become an actor is so distant from your job as a police officer and I hope that you do find a job that you love to do. I see that you got into the police academy for the pay and because you had little confidence in the other careers that you can pursue. You show that you are passionate about your work as a police officer regardless if it’s ‘your calling’ rather you know it or not you’re a hero.

    Working in this field is known to be corrupted and I’m glad to hear that you are not engaged in those acts. I say that you should chase your dreams and you should have a job that doesn’t feel like a job. My teachers and counselors has always encouraged me to find something that I enjoy doing. You’re single and I’m assuming you’re young having provided that you have just been working, you have time to change into different careers and explore.

    Thank you for serving and protecting the residents of Pasadena and good luck in becoming a professional actor!

  • Thank you for your story. I too enjoy my work as Police Officer. I work alongside great groups of Doctors, Nurses and other medical staff members. In the Department ofVeterans affairs, there are many opportunity to meet a vast array of Veterans and family members. Many of the Veterans are truly a real life walking living
    history ranging from World War 2 to the Vietnam War Era and even Desert Storm.

  • The message that this story reveals to me is that you dont have to stop chasing your dreams because of what obstacles you face in life. The hispanic male is a police officer not necessarily because he wanted to be but because he needed a job and the benefits that the police depatment offers were great. Although with that being said there are risks too when you become a police officer.

    There are always risks in any line of work where your life is in danger. As a police officer your duty is to protect the people by any means possible, and to enforce the law to the best of your ability. By doing so you, you are riskig the chance of being shot at by protecting the people as well as enforcing the law. Being a hispanic male in the police department your not only risking your life but you also give the people the chance to ridicule you or discriminate you because your of a different ethnic background.

    The hispanic male felt as if the police force was the only outlet that he had but in reality if he truly wanted to be an actor than he doesn’t have to let go of his dreams. So far he hasn’t let his work get in the way of it neither, since he is still audtioning for roles. I believe the police force helped him to learn that not everyone in this world is going to accept him beause of his race. However that shouldn’t become a reason to slow him down from pursuing any goal that he wishes to reach. As long as you stay determined in whatever you want to do in life and you work hard into transforming that dream of yours into a reality no matter the obstacles that you face in life, then anything is possible. And no one in this world can stop you from reaching your dreams except for yourself.

    So the hispanic male police officer who wants to become a famous actor, can always happen. It is never to late in this world of ours to stop chasing your dreams.

  • What the article didn’t mention is the rampant reverse prejudice invasive in most of the local non-LAPD police forces in and around Los Angeles. The quota system is alive and well. While I don’t agree with ANY form of discrimination the high number of Hispanics accepted into Pasadena over Caucasians who have score equally or better over the past five years on the written, physical and verbal tests is staggering. Perhaps some of the resentment stems from this, that some have to meet every qualifications to the T and then may not get on while other are often slid through with lesser or equal scores passed entirely on their ethnic backgrounds….. think about when it was the other way around didn’t Hispanics howl? >.. Its wrong on both sides of the aisle. Hire the best not quota’s and you’ll get the best… if they all turn out Hispanic, Black, native American or Caucasian so be it they are the best buy qualification not race. I wonder what is going to happen in 2021 when Hispanics are projected to be the majority of American population by race… will they then face the same discrimination or will they still claim minority status and all the head of the line privileges that go with it?