The first time Garden Grove Police Officer Phillip Pham met Officer Jason Perkins was after a terrible tragedy.
It was 2014, and Pham’s younger brother, 22-year-old Pierre, had been killed in a motorcycle accident.
At the time, Pham, Pierre and their younger brother, Paul, all were considering careers in law enforcement.
Pierre, a criminal justice student, passed away a couple of months before his graduation.
It was an unimaginable loss. But from it developed a deep friendship with an officer who would play a role in helping Pham become the officer he is today.
“He stuck with us,” said Pham. “He found out that my brothers and I wanted to get into law enforcement.”
Perkins met Paul at the scene of the accident and checked in on the family at their home later that day. He showed up again the next day as he’d promised he would.
“After Paul went to the station for questioning I remained at the scene until everything was cleaned up,” recalled Perkins. “I followed the tow truck to Paul’s house so his bike could be dropped off. I just had to know he was OK. When the bike came off the tow truck, he came outside and we just talked, for quite awhile. I got to learn about him, about Pierre, and about Phillip.”
The friendship with the family just grew from there. When Pham told Perkins he was applying to police agencies, the officer suggested Garden Grove PD.
“It took a couple of tries, but eventually he made it through the process,” said Perkins. “He worked his butt off every step of the way, even having to convince his family that this was right for him.”
It will be two years in August since Pham, 28, graduated from the police academy.
“I always wanted to get into law enforcement ever since sixth grade,” said Pham, adding that it was after meeting a DARE GGPD officer that came to his school. “It stuck with me ever since then.”
When Pham met Perkins, he didn’t have any mentors in law enforcement he could talk to about becoming an officer.
“I just winged it,” he said.
But once they met, all that changed. Perkins did whatever he could to help the brothers reach their goals, said Pham.
And now Pham and Perkins work at the same agency. In fact, on Pham’s first full shift working at the GGPD, he had the chance to work with Perkins.
“I worked with him and I learned a lot from him,” Pham said, adding that they both work in the Little Saigon area.
Even when they’re not working together, they are in contact via texting or just hanging out when they’re off duty.
“He’s always there. He’s very helpful,” said Pham. “And he’s like that to everybody, not just me.”
Pham said Perkins has helped many kids reach their goals through his work running the GGPD explorer program.
For Perkins, Pham and his brother are the real inspiration.
“I’m just glad to have played a very small part in their process of healing from Pierre’s loss,” he said. “I’m sure that someday Phillip will do something for someone he comes across one day. He’s got a great platform he can use to make a huge impact with.
“I’ve already introduced some of my explorers to him because I think he’s a great influence on them and they can relate to him. Having met Phillip under the worst of circumstances, I am still in awe to see him today and what he has accomplished. He’s an awesome partner and I’m fortunate to be able to work with him.”
Pham appreciates everything Perkins has done for him and his family. Every year, on the anniversary of Pierre’s death, Perkins writes the family letters – “He never forgets.”
“He’s always there to make sure we’re OK,” Pham said. “He’s helped me to get where I am today … not just me but also my brother and my family.”