My name is James Apodaca, and I was a WIA worker for the second session of the summer-break WIA program. I wasn’t too excited to work, but it gave me something to do and I got to earn money.
I signed up for the Department of Corrections, but the slot was already filled, so I was transferred to the Salt River Police Department (SRPD) administration building as an office assistant. It didn’t seem like a fun job, and it was boring for the first couple of days. I would just sit and wait for phone calls. But then some of the officers in the building started to give me little tasks to do. It was starting to become more interesting, because I began to learn about all the different departments in law enforcement.
It’s not only the cops on the road that are important, but there are many other people who are part of police work, like the detectives, sergeants, lieutenants, the SWAT team, investigators, community relations officers, and so on.
I learned that being an office assistant isn’t as easy as I thought it would be; there are several things you must know and learn to do a good job. I will share three things I did while working at SRPD administration: participating in the police simulator, going on a police ride-along, and designing the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) flyer and application.
Salt River Police Department Lt. William Peel asked me if I had gone through the police simulator yet, and I answered no. He and Det. Vicente Cendejas showed me the simulator, and I was able to go through several different scenarios. It was crazy to see what it was like to be a police officer and show up on a scene. I thought it would be easy, but I discovered [that the simulation] wasn’t like any video game; it was very realistic. It was intense to have to go off your own judgment and depend on your senses to know what to do on the scene. I enjoyed it.
I went on four police ride-along trips during my work session at the SRPD administration. When I was scheduled for a ride-along, I would wait until the officer that was assigned to take me along would come and pick me up at the building. From there, we would just ride around like any normal day for an officer, where he performed his normal duties. The trips weren’t packed with stuff to do, but rather calm and just relaxed most of the time. We would ride around and just make sure everything was good and calm. We would make traffic stops here and there, and the officer would tell me why he stopped the person and show me all the paperwork that goes into a simple traffic stop. I never thought that I would be riding around in a cop car, but I did, and it was like any other vehicle. It’s pretty casual. The ride-along trips opened my eyes to what most road cops do most of the time.
For the third job duty, I was just in the office one day and Det. Cendejas asked me to create a flyer for the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) program. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to do it at first, but I just jumped into the project and started. I found out information on the program and started to design the flyer. I finished it in a couple of days and turned it in for Det. Cendejas to review. He said it looked good and gave me another task to do: He asked me to help him finish the final steps for the VIPS application form. I didn’t mind, because it wasn’t as if I had much else to do, and it seemed easy. I just had to switch around some words here and there and I was done the same day. I turned it in and was on my way
When I thought I was done, Det. Cendejas assigned me another project—it’s the article you are reading right now. He asked me to write a summary of my experience at the SRPD administration office. I really didn’t want to type up my experience here and have people read it, but after starting it, I didn’t really mind. Det. Cendejas told me he would try to publish my experience in the Au-Authm Action News, which is kind of cool because I never have been in the paper.
This job wasn’t the best out there, but it was still pretty interesting. I had a good time working there. I had a lot of opportunities to work on my communication skills, which I learned are key to any job.