When Luis Arango came to work as an aide in the Westminster Police Department, law enforcement was battling a terrible reputation in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder.
Nonetheless, the city native believed in the mission of peace officers dedicated to serving his community and welcomed the chance to work for the department.
So, when Arango – now 24 years old – first approached officers at a Coffee with a Cop event three years ago, he was uncertain a law enforcement career was right for him.
“I remember seeing a social media announcement on my phone before the event,” Arango recalls. “I’d already submitted a volunteer application and was trying to find any possible way of working for the department.”
“It was nerves or I don’t know what, but I was hesitant,” he says.
He finally decided to go to the event held at the Starbucks at Beach and Westminster boulevards, where he met Commander Scott Gump.
Cmdr. Gump was so impressed with Arango that he urged him to apply for the paid police aide position a few days later.
Once working in the records division part-time, he impressed sworn officers with his dedication, participating in the department’s Torch Run and working at various community events.
“I was able to realize how society is – and know that officers see both sides of people,” he says.
He remained unsure about committing to a law enforcement career when he was approached to apply for a sworn position.
“At the time, I was just a young kid playing soccer and uncertain about what to do with my life,” he recalls.
Still, growing close to other Westminster Police Department employees and witnessing the bonds between officers ultimately decided his future.
Today Arango, who trained in the records department as a part-time employee and completed 25 weeks of police academy training as part of a 22-member graduating class in March, is a full-fledged officer in field training.
“In my case, I was truly blessed,” he says, noting that the Westminster Police Department sponsored his training. “They put me through the academy and there’s no way I can thank them enough.”
The fact that he’s patrolling in the city where he grew up and now lives is surreal, observes Officer Arango, who earned degrees in administration of justice from Cypress College and criminal justice from Cal State Long Beach.
“I used to attend Westminster High and now I’m guarding the school,” he says.
Field Training Officer Kyle Seasock, a veteran of more than 20 years, is leading Arango through the first of three five-week training phases.
“I’m beginning to learn different sides of police work,” Arango says. “I’m learning a whole different view of policing.”
Seasock, he notes, has inspired him with his warmth and character.
“Every single time, no matter the reason for the call, he has a way of talking to people that makes them feel comfortable,” Arango says. “He makes them feel like human beings.”
It’s too early to tell about his ultimate career goal within the Westminster Police Department.
“Right now, I have more than enough on my plate with the field training,” he says.
“I’m sure there’s something I’ll aspire to, but for now I just want to pass the field training phases and become a great officer for partners to rely on,” he adds.
Perhaps the most gratifying part of his work is the pride he feels when he puts on his uniform.
“Just a few years back I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he remembers. “Now I feel like I’m an example for my family that if you put your mind to it you can achieve what you desire. You just have to work for it.”
As the first in his family to attend and graduate from college and the first to work in a professional career, he knows his immigrant parents are proud of him.
“My overall message,” he says, “is that you can’t just sit around and let things come to you. You must make it happen.”