Police Officer, Daniel Velasquez, serves the 908 proudly every day. Born and raised in Long Beach, Officer Velasquez explores how he got to where he is today.
By Gina V. Ramsey
“Stay out of trouble.” Police Officer Daniel Velasquez constantly heard these words from his parents growing up, and fortunately, he took their advice to heart.
“Oh, they were strict,” he chuckled. “But I thank them for where I am now. [Because of them], I knew one day I could make a difference.”
Listen to Your Parents
Beyond just listening to his parents, Daniel, 23, became aware of what they were afraid he’d fall into. He saw the tagging around his neighborhood, noticed the kids that his parents warned him about, and rather than being lured by these negative influences during the very impressionable teenage years, Daniel got more involved in school.
The Long Beach native attended Wilson High School where he ran for the cross-country team. Outside of school, he took kickboxing classes and volunteered at neighboring elementary schools during the summer. At the age of 15, he joined the Long Beach Police Department’s Police Explorer program.
Being in the Explorer’s program gave Daniel the chance to see some of what police officers do. He participated in ride-alongs, helped with DUI checkpoints, assisted in community events, and was engaged in academy field trainings.
“It opened my mind to what a law enforcement officer does,” he said. “I fell in love with all that the job entails.”
After graduating from high school, he attended Long Beach City College where he earned a degree in Communications. Of all the skills he was learning through involvement as a teen Explorer, and later a Cadet, the one he regarded the most was that of communication.
“The most important tool [police officers] have is how to communicate with people,” Daniel said. “If you can slow things down with your tone whether in a stressful situation or not, [that can make the difference].”
Daniel then entered the police academy and became an officer in 2020.
Another Day at the Office
“Every day is different, nothing is ever the same [day-to-day],” Daniel said. “But our main [role remians the same], we are always serving the community.”
Whether reacting to an emergency or simply pumping air into a stranded motorist’s tire, the heart of being a police officer is to serve their community.
“People call us on their worst days,” he said. “If I can help make it a bit better, [that’s the best part of my job].”
An officer’s daily duties can range from the adrenaline - pumping to the mundane. Looking for suspects and collecting evidence can be the intriguing side, while filing reports and working at the information desk balance the nature of the job.
On one particular summer evening last June while on duty at the Pike Outlets shopping center, Daniel experienced the pendulum of his career.
“I was patrolling the center when I heard the pop-pop-pop of gunshots and saw people running,” Daniel recalled. “This was on a weekend night, there were lots of people, families with kids. It was chaotic and stressful.”
According to the press release, three male victims ages 13, 18, and 23 had been hit by gunfire around the intersection of Shoreline Drive and Aquarium Way. Daniel was the first on the scene and immediately provided medical aid to one of the victims, as he broadcasted for assistance. Within minutes, other officers were able to locate and detain the vehicle with three suspects believed to be involved in the shooting. Eventually all three victims were transported to local hospitals and survived.
At the end of his shift, Daniel still needed to return to the station and file his report of the incident.
“Thankfully, I was there. I’d like to think that person survived because of the training I received,” Daniel said. “And Thank God that [at the end of the day], I was able to go home.”
Talk About It
Returning to the importance of communication, Daniel believes the best way to decompress from the stress of his job is to talk about it.
“Whether with a professional, relative, or significant other, you have to talk it out,” he said. “It’s not healthy to keep it all inside. And whether you’re religious or not, I always Thank God when I go home.”
Daniel exercises and goes on runs to help him destress, and occasionally will return to his old high school to catch up with former coaches and chat with the new runners, or he helps out at the Explorer’s program.
“I remember how helpful the mentors I had [in the Explorer’s program] were,” he said. “It makes a difference.”
Born, Raised, and Serves in the LBC
What makes Long Beach great as it relates to his job, is the diversity.
“You have to know your ‘clientele’,” Daniel said. “Long Beach has so many cultures and tourists from around the world. It opens you to different perspectives. And the best tool we have for the community we serve is communication.”
And what advice would he give to a youngster interested in becoming a police officer?
“Stay out of trouble,” he laughed. “I know it sounds obvious but bad influences lead to bad decisions.”
He recommends the Police Explorers for teenagers, even for those not necessarily looking to become an officer, and the Cadets Program, a paid internship designed for college students 18-24 years old interested in a career in law enforcement.
“It helps with maturity, responsibility, integrity, and making the right choices,” he said.
“Nothing good comes easy. You have to work for it even if you have to sacrifice time with friends. And always do the right thing, even when no one is looking.”