A 21-year-old San Antonio police cadet, Flores became a father for the second time just a few days before this exceptionally nice officer hit some exceptionally mean streets.
Im confident. Im not cocky, but Im confident, Flores says with a nervous laugh.
As if being a rookie isnt tough enough, Flores has drawn the shift called dogwatch 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., San Antonios eight wildest hours.
His guide during his first weeks on the force is Al Byrom, a part-time preacher and full-time cop.
Hes going to see things and handle things that he never dreamed were even happening in this world today, Byrom says.
Even a routine traffic stop isnt routine for Flores, who gets a lecture from Byrom about watching a motorists hands: The hands is whats going to kill you. He could have the biggest smile on his face and pull out the biggest gun and blow your head off.
Every call, every crisis is an opportunity for Byrom to toughen Flores up.
When a man wanted on warrants ranging from drunk driving to credit card fraud is believed somewhere inside a dark house, Byrom sends Flores ahead to make the arrest: Im gonna let you lead, brother. Ill be right behind you.
Flores gets his man, but as always, Bryom has advice: You can not cut them any slack; show them that youre in control.
The time for rookie mistakes is over when a 911 call comes in for two people shot, one in the head, in a drive-by shooting. Twenty two officers are at the scene and rookie Ben Flores is in charge. Suddenly, the rookie needs to act like a vet. How he handles the crime scene investigation may make or break the case.
He does so well that he gets the cops ultimate compliment: another officer addresses him by his first name.
When you get other officers calling you by your first name, not probie or rookie or anything like that, Flores says, Now they see me as an officer finally. As soon as I heard Ben, I thought to myself, you know, I think Im actually an officer now, you know, all of a sudden!
Not so fast, says Byrom: As far as Im concerned, theyre rookies for a couple of years.
Described as too nice to be a policeman, Flores bristles. Every officer needs a streak of niceness, he says. And the reason for that is because if you become accustomed to the ways of the street, you become like the ways of the street, and thats not what officers are here for.
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