From Watching COPS to Being One

From Watching COPS to Being One

Or

Local Boy Become Local Police Officer

By Lynn Leissler

For the Independent

Cindy Hughes swears in officer Daniel Cardenas during city council meeting.

Cindy Hughes swears in officer Daniel Cardenas during city council meeting.

As a kid, Daniel Cardenas loved hearing stories from his neighbor, a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff. And he loved the TV show COPS. His family moved to Eagle Point when Daniel was in the seventh grade. By the time he was in his last year at Eagle Point High School (2011), he was seriously interested in law enforcement and chose to explore the field for his senior project. The Eagle Point Police Department directed him to Officer Kazakoff. However, the local force suggested he might gain more experience in Medford. There he did ride-alongs with Officer Vega. Corporal Whiteman, Jr. recruited him for the Medford PD Explorer program, mentored by Detective Dennis. He treasures these individuals for their role in a crucial time of career choice.

All the while, through the blessing of a Ford Family Foundation scholarship, Cardenas attended Southern Oregon University, majoring in criminal justice and minoring in psychology. He graduated in 2015 cumma cum laude, top male in his class in criminal justice. He was inducted into the National Criminal Justice Society (Alpha Phi Sigma) and the International Honor Society for Psychology (Psi Chi). His Ford scholarship also allowed him to study abroad and he treasures that experience.

During his junior year at SOU, he did an internship with the Eagle Point PD. His last stint with the department was code enforcement. He did his job well enough that when a position came up, he put in for it and Chief Thompson offered the job.

Officer Cardenas explained the process for becoming a police officer in Oregon. While it varies by jurisdiction, the basics are the same. First, a candidate is tested in reading, math, grammar and sentence structure (police reports need to be coherent). Then, a physical test and interviews before panels and with the chief. If you make it this far, the department will run a background test, and give medical and psychological testing. If satisfied, the local department offers a job, hires you and sends you to the academy for 16 weeks.

Daniel passed on every level and when he returns from the academy, you’ll see him around town, doing his best to keep Eagle Point safe. He finished both high school and college here, and this is where he wants to live and serve with a force he highly respects. While proud of his academic accomplishments, he knows it’s really about giving back to a community that has given him so much.