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Westminster Police Department’s records department is turning into something of a breeding ground for up-and-coming officers.
There’s Brandon Le, who has worked as a police aide in records for about a year now and plans to apply to become a police officer after finishing college.
Nhu Nguyen, who worked in records as a police aide for 1 1/2 years, recently entered the police academy to become an officer at the Fountain Valley Police Department.
And Steven Vo was sworn in as a Westminster police officer in June after working as a police aide in the records department for about two years.
“You’re the first point of contact,” Vo said about working the front counter of the agency while in records. “So whatever you say, whatever you do, it leaves the first impression for the community [member]that walks through that door.”
All three started with the agency as explorers – working in that program together – before being hired as police aides and working in the records department.
“Records is a very good place to start because you’re working up in the front,” Le said. “You get to learn how to speak with people and there’s a lot to learn up here in records because there’s so much information that’s thrown at you.”
Nguyen said that in her time in records, she has assisted by entering field interviews for officers into the records system, processing parking citations, taking records requests and assisting the front counter, among other duties. Nguyen speaks Vietnamese, which has come in handy with the high number of Vietnamese community members. She is able to translate when necessary.
“We act kind of like a filter if they have any questions,” she said. “Whatever the case may be, we are able to direct them to the right department.”
Vo said working in records really helped him learn to listen to people, what questions to ask and how to connect.
“That really helps me when I’m out in the field now … it’s really easy to talk to people,” Vo said. “I think [records is]the best position to be in if you want to become a police officer, because you talk to people on a daily basis and that’s what you basically have to do when you are a police officer.”
Le said working the front counter in records offers good lessons in handling situations where people might be upset.
“There are times when people do yell at you and obviously you can’t really yell at them back, so you’re gonna have to control your temper as well,” he said. “Working in records, you kind of learn how to take reports as well … you learn how to ask so many questions.”
He said that in addition to working the front counter, answering phone calls and filing, he also fills out crime report requests and issues vehicle releases for impounded vehicles.
“You have to make [sure]that all the information is up-to-date, make sure they’re not missing anything,” he said.
Nguyen said the list of duties in records is as varied as the people who walk through the front doors of the agency.
“Anyone can come in for any reason,” she said, which has helped expand her experience that much more.
“Records definitely helped build up that foundation and kind of strengthen my knowledge and confidence,” she said.
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