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|An up close and personal interview with U.S. Police Veteran and Togetherweserved.com Member:|
CPL Robert Russell (2002-2010)
San Diego County Sheriff's Department
WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO MAKE A CAREER IN LAW ENFORCEMENT?
After I retired from the U.S. Navy, I was looking for something similar to the camaraderie I was used to. I spent three years in civilian employment and wasn't impressed by civilians at all. I attended a law enforcement recruiting expo in San Diego. After talking with one of the recruiters, I took the bait and started the process of entering the San Diego County Sheriff's Dept.
While on active duty, I spent several months TAD to the base police where I went through their training and performed duties on patrol. I loved it and it helped me when I attended the Sheriff's Academy.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR CAREER PATH AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?
I volunteered to take on several extra obligations en-route to becoming a Facility Training Officer (FTO). I was eventually awarded the FTO pin and later made Corporal. I later became the facility Terrorism Liaison Officer (TLO) and attended several courses, as I was very interested in this area of expertise.
I transferred to another facility, keeping my Corporal stripes and training new deputies and team members on various topics of procedures and officer safety. After eight years, I was asked to join a DOD program as a contractor. All my military and law enforcement training has come to enhance that position now. I deferred retirement from the Sheriff's Dept. when I left and remain close to SDSO members I served with.
DID YOU SERVE IN THE MILITARY PRIOR? AND IF SO, IN WHAT BRANCH OF SERVICE? IN WHAT WAYS HAS MILITARY SERVICE INFLUENCED YOUR CAREER IN LAW ENFORCEMENT?
I served in the U.S. Navy and retired in 1998. During my career I completed tours as an instructor and gained valuable leadership experience. This greatly helped when I entered law enforcement. The stresses you're exposed to in the military enable you to handle many of the stresses in law enforcement. Although the stresses are unique to each career field.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE LAW ENFORCEMENT CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR INCIDENT HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
The incident that had the biggest impact, happened when I was off duty: the 2007 wild fires in Southern California. My wife and I answered calls for assistance to rescue horses from the path of the fires. Since we are horse owners ourselves, we took our truck and trailer and were able to get a few people out of the fire area.
However, one rescue went bad. I identified myself at the check point to gain access to a couple who needed to get their horses out of the fire storm. The winds were extreme, reaching gusts of 100 MPH. We eventually found the couple and were able to get three of their horses in our trailer. We had to egress on the same route we came in on.
By then, however, the flames were coming across the road. I knew we had to somehow punch through the flames. When we did, our engine died and we crashed through a fence. Visibility was zero, and the noise was like a freight train. It was approximately 10:00 p.m., and all we could see was smoke and orange glow all around us. We bailed out of the truck, and I lost sight of my wife for what seemed to be a very long time.
I finally found her and grabbed the back of her shirt. We followed the yellow line down the highway where we met an off-duty fireman evacuating his home. Since he had fire-protective clothing, he was able to open the trailer doors and let the horses run for themselves. They were caught and rescued about an hour later.
The next morning, we learned our truck and trailer were completely destroyed by fire and our home had also burned to the ground. The Sheriff's Department and the Deputy Sheriff's Association came in and gave us a tremendous amount of support. I was very proud to be a member of that fraternity.
OF THE MEDALS, AWARDS OR BADGES YOU RECEIVED, WHAT IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
My wife was a volunteer member of the Sheriff's Mounted Patrol at the time of the fires. Several months after the fires, I was awarded a Certificate of Commendation and she was awarded a Civilian Commendation. We received the awards together in April 2008.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL PERSON FROM YOUR CAREER MADE THE MOST POSITIVE INFLUENCE ON YOU AND WHY?
SDSO Retired Captain Skip Murphy and SDSO LT. (now Captain) Edna Malloy. I am friends with Skip and worked for Edna. Both knew how to take care of the deputies under their supervision.
CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR CAREER THAT WAS FUNNY AT THE TIME AND STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Yes, but I had better not write it down.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNED AS A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER?
Things are rarely as they appear and can go south in a hurry.
WHAT LAW ENFORCEMENT ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIP(S)?
I became a member of the Deputy Sheriff's Association of San Diego County (DSA) and PORAC. I still remain a DSA member. They do good work for our brothers in harms way each day.
HOW HAS SERVING AS A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU CONDUCT YOUR PERSONAL LIFE AND YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS OUTSIDE OF THE DEPARTMENT?
When you're in uniform, you are constantly being watched by the public. You need to conduct yourself accordingly and represent your department in a favorable manner. Off-duty is the same. Those you know and may not know can be aware of your profession and are watching. That being said, I have taught my family the importance of being aware of your surroundings at all times. It's difficult to do when your kids are young and carefree. But it does pay off.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR A ROOKIE WHO HAS JUST PUT ON THE BADGE?
Keep your emotions in check at all times. Don't take anything personal. Pay attention to officer safety ALWAYS. Nothing is more important than you and your partner coming home at the end of your shift. Know your surroundings and pay attention to what goes on behind you and out of sight. It can go bad quickly. Above all, STAY SAFE!!!
IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU FEEL THIS WEBSITE CAN BENEFIT THE LAW ENFORCEMENT COMMUNITY?
Just as the military Together We Served does, it gives us a sense of brotherhood with other law enforcement officers.
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