My childhood dream and desire had always been to become a police officer. It all started in kindergarten when I attended Tibby Elementary School in Compton, California. I was five years old, when my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Wong, asked the entire class, What do you want to be when you grow up? I remember raising my hand and telling Mrs. Wong, I want to be a police officer when I grow up!
So, even at the tender age of five, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to be a police officer. In fact, I tell people today that if I had to choose again, I still would pursue my chosen profession as a Los Angeles Police Officer. It is rare that you get a chance to live out your dream!
When I was a young child, my father would take me along to visit his friend, Police Sergeant Joel, who worked for the Compton Police Department. Sergeant Joel was a mountain of a man, who often would kid around with me, asking me if I wanted to be a junior police officer. Of course, my answer was always, Yes, Sir. On occasion, Sergeant Joel would give me a Compton Police Department Junior Police Officers badge. It was these positive interactions at such a young age that paved the way for me and played a major role in my decision to become a Los Angeles Police Officer.
In 1963, after the birth of my younger brother, James, our parents legally separated and would eventually file for divorce. My mother maintained full custody of the three of us: James, me, and my older sister, Kathy. So, as a single parent, she worked hard and moved our family to the planned housing community Park Village, located in Compton, California.
Our home address was 515 Corregidor Street. I attended Park Village Elementary School, where I met my childhood friends, Mark and Roy. Years later, Roy would be shot and killed, and Mark ended up in state prison for murder. We were the three amigos as childhood friends. We attended the same elementary school and played little league baseball together.
NOTE TO PARENTS: One of the best ways to keep your children out of street gangs and trouble is to engage them in organized recreational sports! My mother adopted that philosophy as a single parent and made sure that my brother and I stayed busy playing youth sports.
One afternoon while walking to the baseball park located on Alondra Boulevard, south of Compton High School, Roy and I noticed a large puddle of bright red blood on the sidewalk. Being curious youngsters, we decided to follow the blood trail. It led us into an apartment complex courtyard off of the main thoroughfare. There we saw a black male adult lying on the ground in a puddle of blood; he was staring into space with his eyes wide open. His body looked as stiff as a board. A small crowd had gathered, and someone whispered that the man had been shot while attempting to break