In the media, there are different views of what a blue uniform, the patrol car and flashing lights represent today; the entire narrative of police brutality, #ACAB and systemic corruption are frequently portrayed.
Despite this, there is still a human being who is putting on a badge every day.
Officer Christopher Vasquez is a friend, husband, self-defense advocate and student, but most importantly a father. This university cop sees the issues inside the criminal justice system.
Vasquez says the fear that most Americans voice regarding cops is reciprocated by officers in the line of duty.
“My wife does not want me to work for the county, she doesn’t want me to work in North Little Rock, [because] there is a lot of crime and officer-involved shootings. It is not something someone wants to be a part of, because it is not something that will end well… I don’t want to face the barrel of a gun,” Vasquez said.
Like most officers, Vasquez says he’s cautious about the idea of his son joining law enforcement due to riots, movements and danger that are against the police today.
“We are so hated right now, that I would hope by the time [my son] gets to be old enough to [join law enforcement], the field has seen change. As of right now, [the police force] is a target, and would hope he’d chose something different. That is not to say we don’t need good open-minded cops, because we do,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez says he is more than just a uniform; he is more than just a person who took the oath to support the Constitution and defend civilians against public enemies.
“UCA took a big gamble on me. I am very thankful they did… at the time [when I moved to Arkansas] I was in the process of cleaning up my record... because I got arrested for DWI,” Vasquez said.
Per Vasquez, it took five years to clear his record and being behind county bars allowed him to reevaluate. Ultimately, this drove him to pursue a drug-free life and a career in public safety.
Vasquez has been a UCA police officer for the last six years and is grateful for the opportunity.
On his days off, he spends time with his wife, son and three-year-old daughter. Most days they are found walking the trails of Tucker Creek. However, playing legos with his son is his ultimate pastime.
According to Vasquez, his life is constantly moving and there is never time to slow down in the Vasquez home. When his wife is working during the day, he is taking care of the kids and logging onto Zoom to complete his degree in Criminology. When the clock strikes 4:00pm, Vasquez is getting ready for his night shift. In light of some past experiences, Vasquez also teaches self-defense to female students on campus.
He loves the life of the uniform, but it was the people he could help that solidified his career choice. To have a successful career in this job, it all goes down to devotion and dedication to the people.
“For new officers, love what you do…” Vasquez advises, “and if you don’t have a love for this or the love for people… this is the wrong place for you.”