During a ride-along with a Beverly Hills police officer, then-cadet Michael Downs became certain of two things: He wanted to be a police officer. And he wanted to serve in Beverly Hills.
The officers’ personal relationships with citizens and business owners — the mutual respect between the police and the community — resonated with him. Downs saw that the agency’s core values of courage, commitment, honor, integrity and respect weren’t confined to a plaque on a wall at the department. They were evident in action every day.
“This is the reason I wanted to get into law enforcement,” said Downs, 24, on the job in Beverly Hills for two-plus years. “Seeing the way the officers got involved with the public and communicated with the public, I (knew) this is where I wanted to be.”
Beverly Hills officers don’t typically have a lineup of calls stacking up as in other agencies, Downs said. For this reason, officers can take the time to interact with the public at length.
“Most of the time, we have the ability to slow things down and have a conversation and make sure our community is taken care of,” he said. “And the community appreciates that.”
“Our city loves us,” Downs said. “Most of the city really approves of the police. This community shows us so much support and it makes it really easy for us to show it back to them.”
Downs was only 13 when he started contemplating a career in law enforcement.
“Something about public service just felt right to me,” said Downs, the youngest of three boys.
He served as an Explorer with the Los Angeles Police Department for about five years while in middle school and high school. As an explorer, Downs said he gained communication skills, cultivated self-confidence and learned to develop a “command presence.”
After exemplary service as an Explorer, Downs went on to Los Angeles Valley Community College. During his first year there, Downs took the next logical step and applied to become a cadet at the Beverly Hills Police Department.
In 2016, he applied to become a police officer and sailed through the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Training Academy, crediting his success there to what he learned as a police cadet.
After the academy, Downs worked under the tutelage of Beverly Hills Police Department training officers, including Sgt. Tony Adams.
“I think he is a natural at this,” Adams said. “He is energetic. He volunteers for everything. He would do anything I needed him to do and never complain about it.”
Downs, who aspires to become a motor officer and a K9 handler at the Beverly Hills Police Department, has also taken on roles as a Taser instructor, an advisor to community service officers, and a K9 agitator.
“He’s got a very bright future here,” Adams said. “Other people around here who can make decisions higher than my pay grade see it in him too.”