TULSA, Okla. — The path to a career in law enforcement can start from several different places.
Michael Brown started his career in law enforcement in 1995. He was an officer at the Tulsa Police Department for 22 years.
Now, he’s the senior instructor of the criminal justice program at Tulsa Tech. Like most who work in law enforcement, Brown says wearing the badge is rewarding but with rewards also come challenges.
“You see a significant amount of tragedies,” Brown said. “Hurt children, hurt people, you see the results and what it does to families and what it does to people and how it changes their trajectory in life.”
In 2012, Brown was faced with one of those challenges. A man had been shot and killed by police. Brown had to notify the family, including the man’s daughter.
“There was an elementary school-aged young girl there,” Brown said. “I didn’t think much of it… But I didn’t realize how important she would be to me later.”
This past week, nine men and women were the first class to graduate from the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office’s new academy. One of those new deputies, Aaliyah Sanchez was also a student of Brown’s at Tulsa Tech.
Sanchez says it was a personal tragedy that led her to her path in law enforcement.
“My father was shot and killed by a police officer,” Sanchez said. “At first, I was angry about it. And I didn’t understand. But instead of being angry, I realized I can do something else about it. I can be that change.”
What you could call a coincidence, or maybe fate, in a classroom at Tulsa Tech wasn’t the first time Brown and Sanchez’s paths crossed. Sanchez was that elementary school-aged girl brown remembered from 11 years ago.
“I ended up talking to him a little bit about what happened with my dad,” she said. “He said, ‘I knew about that’ and ‘I worked that case’.”
Throughout heartbreak, and difficulties came an unforeseen friendship.
“In a way, I feel like I was destined to meet him," Sanchez said.
Brown said life is all about your choices.
“You have the choice to go down a path that’s going to lead you to a lack of future or lead yourself to a pretty great future.”
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