Police work: A family affair
Years of service: 11 years with Goodyear; 5 years with Maricopa County
Career highlights: Received the Department’s highest honor, the Medal of Valor, for saving the lives of two citizens still in their home while it was engulfed in flames.
Inherent dangers you face: Personal injury and/or death when dealing with person(s) of unknown history and background – whether they are fugitives from justice or wanted for some yet undetected, heinous crime. There is constant danger of being struck by an impaired driver while investigating vehicular accidents or issuing traffic citations.
Proudest moment: Along with the birth of my two sons, the day I graduated from the police academy. Having struggled with physical challenges most of my life, I faced huge obstacles during the rigorous training of the modern police academy. The encouragement, love and support of my family helped me to overcome those challenges. At my graduation, the family and friends who supported me clapped and cheered with pride when I received my badge on stage. It was a tremendously emotional experience that I will never forget.
Funny anecdote: One night early on in my career, my partner and I were dispatched to check on a home burglary in a remote area. We approached the scene cautiously looking for movement or signs of forced entry. At the back of the home, we discovered a door swinging open in the wind. We then believed that there might actually be a burglar still inside. After quietly searching the entire first floor, we switched our focus to the basement. The house was pitch black, and the wind outside was blowing hard. Slowly, I commenced my descent down the stairs with my partner close behind. At the bottom, we stood shoulder to shoulder and scanned the large room with our flashlights. Just then, a strong gust of wind slammed the door above us shut. We braced ourselves for what might come next. I re-positioned my flashlight and noticed that I was face-to-face with a very large gray wolf, its fangs displayed in a terrifying manner. The homeowner obviously had the animal stuffed and mounted as a hunting trophy. I was less than a second from pulling the trigger and dispatching the beast when I realized what it was. My partner laughing hysterically, said between gasps for air, “Don’t worry, Tellez, I don’t think it’ll bite you.”
Why did you decide to pursue this career? Being the last child of an extremely large family, I had the benefit of listening to all of the exciting stories of my older siblings who were already into their law enforcement careers. I knew that I wanted to follow in their footsteps and become a police officer as well. The excitement of chasing and capturing fleeing offenders seemed very rewarding and thrilling, as well as the enjoyment and relief from reuniting a lost child with his mother.
Next professional goal: Becoming a supervisor within my department. As a supervisor I would encourage my subordinates to adopt my philosophy of positive contacts and interactions with our youth.
Final word: Many good friends in my law enforcement family were taken away before their time, but I know that none of them would have any regrets for doing the job that they loved. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).