SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 UTAH) She sacrificed everything so he could have a better life. That is what a Unified Police officer says about his mother. And he says he made sure he didn't let her down and today he is making sure to reach out and help others. In this week's Behind the Badge report - we meet Officer Omar Flores.
It looks like typical police work. But it's much more - this is a young man fulfilling a dream. "Being an officer on the streets was my end goal just because of the direct impact with the community." From a young age Flores wanted to make a difference. "I've always been an advocate for social justice." And he wanted to be in a position to help. "Being able to interact with people on the streets, communities and families and being able to help non-English speaking populations - that really fuels my passions."
And to understand that passion - you have to understand his childhood. Flores came to the United States - legally - at the age of six.He says his mother immigrated to Utah - in part - to provide her son a better life. "As a single parent. As a single immigrant parent. Working multiple jobs to put food on the table and keep a roof over our head." And the 27 year old says she was his example. "And really having her set the standard, helped me be the trailblazer that I have been for my family."
Flores began his law enforcement career working in corrections at the Salt Lake County Jail. " I learned a lot. I was very involved. I did as much training as I could. I loved the people I worked with." And while he was working in corrections he was going to school at the U of U. "I learned a lot on how to deal with people and situations."
Then tragedy struck. Flores was diagnosed with cancer. "It was really hard. It was tough." He had surgery to remove the cancer and then had to endure treatments. "I underwent radiation therapy for and extensive amount of time." Despite this - he continued his studies and last year he graduated with a degree in Sociology and was hired by Unified Police. "It's the one career I can take and harness and make an impact in the system."
With the cancer in remission he hit the streets excited to ready to engage. "I understand how that goes with temp tags and everything. OK." He says in his first year has been an adventure. "Every day is another day to learn. Every day is another day to experience something." The 27 year old says it's been filled with action. "He got him with both tasers at the same time and he goes to the ground." Moments of emotion. "Holding a baby that you just pulled out of a car - there is no better feeling than that."
And most important to him - to put on the badge and have the opportunity to serve. "There's the appeal. The uniform and the cars and the training and the tactical and getting all of that in there, but I really do like to help people.""And it coincides a lot more with the social justice passion that I have."
Officer Flores came to the country on the 4th of July, 1996.
To check out an intense and interesting taser story click the WEB EXTRA VIDEO below.
And remember to nominate an officer for a future behind the badge story at: http://www.good4utah.com/badge
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