Father’s Day: A “cop kid” reflects on life growing up


Every morning at 6 a.m. sharp, I would hear the screeching of the garage door opening and moments later a car engine starting. Dad was off to work again.

My father, Paul D’Auria, retired this year from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department as a police captain.

I have so many stories about growing up as the daughter of a police officer, which made writing this difficult. (Plus, my dad is very involved and I am sure he is going to read this.) I have a reputation to uphold — I can’t let him I know I think he’s actually cool. But, since Father’s Day is coming up, I will let a few secrets slide.

Growing up, I would talk to other police children my age, and they all seemed to have different outlooks about having a police officer as a dad. My own experiences never seemed to match theirs, mainly because they would always talk about how little they saw their fathers, and growing up, I felt like I saw my dad a little too much.

Rebecca, Dominic, and their father, Paul D’Auria, at a party celebrating his retirement from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Photo provided by Rebecca D’Auria/Behind the Badge OC

My dad would leave for work early in the morning and would be absent most of the day, but he would be back for dinner every night. That’s not to say there weren’t some dinners and holidays he missed, but if he did, he always made it up.

When I was young, I really thought my dad was awesome. In my eyes, he was a superhero.

In kindergarten, every other Monday was show-and-tell at my school. I remember one Monday in particular, because I knew exactly what I wanted to bring in that week: my dad.

I peeked my head around the kitchen corner and asked if I could take him to show-and-tell. Sure enough, he made a few calls and then told me he would love to come. It was exciting having him there, answering all my classmates’ questions.

I got to go to a lot of cool places because of my dad, which is one of the perks of having a dad in law enforcement.

While my dad was assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force with the FBI, he would go to training courses or conferences all around the United States. Usually, my dad would only take my mom with him, but a few times he let me come too.

Paul D’Auria with his daughter, Rebecca, at father-daughter camp when she was in grade school.
Photo provided by Rebecca D’Auria/Behind the Badge OC

I was 10 years old when my dad came into my room to give me some exciting news. He told me he had to attend a training course in Chicago for a week and that my mom was going with him. Before I could try to get him to agree to let me stay at a friend’s house instead of my grandparents’, he told me I was invited to come with them.

During the day, while he was attending a terrorism training seminar, my mom and I explored Chicago. We did a lot of cool things, but the best was visiting the American Girl Doll factory.

Some of the most fun I had, though, was when my dad was a lieutenant working as the chief of police services in San Clemente.

My dad always had to work the Fourth of July, but that didn’t stop him from spending the holiday with his family because he always invited us to come with him.

Every year, I got to hang out with the other police families at the command post set up at the San Clemente pier. There was a BBQ, I got to listen to the dispatch calls, and my dad always walked me over to the mounted unit and let me sit on the police horses, which was my favorite.

My dad did a lot to make sure my brother and I had a relationship with him growing up. When he was working as a watch commander at the Emergency Communications Bureau (ECB), he had to work all night. That meant that when he finally came home he would sleep all day and I didn’t get to see him that much. But that didn’t stop him from being involved.

He used to let my brother and me do a night shift ride-along with him at ECB. We got to stay up past our bedtime and when we finally felt like sleeping, my dad let us use our sleeping bags in his office and sleep until it was time to leave in the morning.

Rebecca with her father, Paul D’Auria, in San Clemente on Fourth of July.
Photo provided by Rebecca D’Auria/Behind the Badge OC

My dad’s involvement didn’t stop when I got older, as I saw with a lot of other “cop kids.” My dad has continued to help me through the years, both intentionally and unintentionally.

By unintentionally helping me I mean that I never dealt with that whole “bad boyfriend” thing, for the most part. I always told any guy I was seeing that my dad was a cop, so if they stuck around they generally had good intentions.

My dad also helped me obtain my first college internship. I never thought he could help me with anything professional because he was in law enforcement and I am a communications major with hopes of being a social media manager. At the time, they seemed like two separate worlds.

However, last November he came home after a meeting and told me the Sherriff’s Department’s Public Affairs Bureau was looking for an intern. I wasn’t excited at first, but the more I thought about it, I realized this could be an amazing experience.

I applied for the internship and, after passing a background check and interviews, I got the offer.

I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I got to do some very exciting things and I learned more about what cops do every day.

What most people don’t know about my dad is that before he became a cop, he was an advertising communications major, same as me. It was exciting to be in the same major, working with my dad at the Sheriff’s Department.

Paul D’Auria, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, and Rebecca on the final day of Rebecca’s internship at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Photo provided by Rebecca D’Auria/Behind the Badge OC

I was lucky enough that during this time he was the captain at the Intake and Release Facility (IRC), which was walking distance from my office. He would visit me every day after meetings or I would visit him once my day ended. It was a great experience and helped me figure out what I finally wanted to do after college.

Without him, I wouldn’t have all those experiences or memories. Who knows, maybe I still wouldn’t really be sure what I wanted to do in life.

Don’t get me wrong, having a dad in law enforcement hasn’t always been perfect. We have had a disagreement (or two…) throughout the years. For the most part though, I have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated that my dad was a cop.

Happy Father’s Day to the best dad I know! Thank you for always being a dad first and a cop second.