Valentin trades studies for shield
Published: Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 15:09
Swiftly moving up the ranks in the district's Police Services force, 23-year-old Manuel Valentin started as a police aide and became a police officer as of March 15.
After hiring him three years ago as a police aide, Police Services Chief Charles Gibson said he mentored Valentin and assisted in his quest to become a police officer.
"I gave him advice to go to (Governing Board) meetings and understand the district," Gibson said. "Most officers go on ride-alongs with other officers, but to go to meetings, you understand budgetary issues the administrators are dealing with and it gives you the whole picture."
As an aide, Valentin provided escorts for students, unlocked doors and was the eyes and ears for officers.
Now as a sworn-in police officer, he holds the authority and responsibility for conducting investigations, taking calls, providing service and making reports.
His main goal as a district police officer is to maintain a safe haven for people to acquire their degrees, Gibson said.
Valentin grew up in Richmond and attended schools throughout Berkeley.
In middle school, he decided his goal in life was to become a police officer.
"Growing up as a minority, I didn't want to be another statistic," Valentin said.
He began attending CCC in 2006 and was hired as a police aide in 2008. He spent a little more than two years working as a police aide.
"It was fun. I got to work with officers and learn how law enforcement worked," he said. "I got a good feel for policing the college environment. It further inspired me to be a district officer."
In April 2010, Valentin left CCC for six months to attend the Police Academy at Napa Valley College.
Gibson said taking young people, such as Valentin, and giving them opportunities to succeed and follow their dreams is extremely important for the district.
"He always wanted to be a police officer. Being a police aide showed him what to do, it showed him issues with the campus," Gibson said. "Our goal is not just to make good police officers, it's to make good citizens."
He said when Valentin was hired as a police officer, he brought his parents to the District Office and gave a speech.
"I finally accomplished a goal I set for myself a long time ago," Valentin said. "It made me and my family proud."
A strong understanding of the college
Police officer Jon Caires said Valentin has a unique perspective of the college, different from other officers.
"Most officers' first experience on campus is from an officer's stand point," Caires said. "Manny started from the ground up. He possessed the knowledge of a student worker, is a Richmond native and integrated from the school system."
Gibson said Valentin has a thorough understanding of the college district.
"I asked if he'd stay three years (during the job interview for the officer position). He said, ‘I'd stay 20 years.' He loves it here, you can't ask for more than that," he said.
LMC Lt. Ryan Huddleston said Valentin shows a lot of concern and enthusiasm for not just the campus, but the entire district.
"He really stepped up to show he had passion for the career he chose," Huddleston said. "It shows a lot of determination to join the Police Academy when you don't know if there are going to be any job openings."
Back when Huddleston supervised him as a police aide, he said Valentin always sought new ways to better himself, asking what classes to take and what he should learn.
Hardworking and personable
Caires said one of his first encounters with Valentin was when he was still a police aide.
Two people were reported arguing in the Student Dining Room. The people arguing were speaking Spanish and distressing others .
"I came to the location, but did not speak Spanish," Caires said. "Manny spoke Spanish and came to the location while I separated the parties."
He said Valentin was not yet trained to diffuse situations, but did an outstanding job translating and providing insight on what they were arguing about.
"He is a jewel," Gibson said. "He is willing to make mistakes and learn from them. He has an able personality."
Huddleston said Valentin is outgoing and approachable.
"Every time I talk to him, he always has a smile on his face. He just loves coming to work and that type of attitude is infectious," he said.
Hankins said Valentin is easy to talk to and students and staff have no problem approaching him, as his demeanor is pleasant.
"I've always known him to help people. He is a cheerful spirit," he said.
Inspiration to others
Police aide Edgard Sibrian became a police aide around the same time Valentin started.
"I'm impressed," Sibrian said about Valentin's quick progression. "Some people just (become police officers) for the money, but he has integrity and loves what he does."
Each police officer in the district has a community project to focus on outside of their police officer duties.
Valentin said his community project is to work closely with police aides.
"Coming as a police aide, I was inspired by the officers. I want to work with police aides to make the program better," he said.