Professionally, it's been a good first year on the job says Lockport Police Department Officer Miguel Bermudez.
Home life has been a bit tougher.
“Me and my father are best friends, he was my inspiration and he backed me 120% with everything I did,” Bermudez said. “Back in November, we found out he had cancer.”
Because he was new on the force, Bermudez hadn’t accumulated a lot of sick time, but that didn’t make a difference to LPD brass. On one occasion, the hospital in Rochester called him while he was on duty and told him his father had a massive heart attack, and they thought he was dead. Bermudez’s lieutenant looked at him as Bermudez took the call and just said, “Go. Be with your family, we’ll find another guy to cover for you.”
“My dad ended up surviving that heart attack and I get a couple more months with him,” Bermudez said. “The department came together and they all donated time to me. I had over 60 days. There’s 49 of us here, so at least every person here donated a day, and I was told if I need any more time off, it was taken care of.”
During that time, Lockport Police Chief Steven Abbott coordinated a swearing in ceremony for Bermudez which had been delayed because of the pandemic.
“At that point, I didn’t want one, because my dad was supposed to put on the pins and the badge on me and swear me in,” he said. “Chief Abbott came with Captain (Anthony) Palumbo and swore me in with my dad (at the hospital in Rochester).”
“They didn’t have to do it, but they did, and I think that speaks volumes.”
While the police department has been criticized as to not having enough minority, particularly Black officers, on the force, but Bermudez said his minority status as Hispanic has not made as many big waves as was thought upon his hiring.
“It’ll be a year on the 29th,” Bermudez said, noting that he’d served on other police departments, as well.
As a minority officer, Bermudez said he has gained the trust of many of the city's residents, in his dealings with them.
“I think sometimes people don’t want to associate with the police, because they don’t think they’re like them,” he said. “Then they see me and now they want to come forward and now they don’t mind making a report.”
Currently, Bermudez is being sent to classes on how to deal with the public in a new way.
“I’m being sent for procedural justice. I’m a certified police instructor so I was sent to be certified in procedural justice. It’s called principles of policing,” he said. “It’s a new way we can engage the public. It’s just giving it another outlook, looking at it from a different perspective and trying to take the community’s perspective into account and still do our job.”
Bermudez said he intends to stay with the Lockport Police Department for at least 20 years, and wants people to know that the public can always speak to him.
“It feels good sometimes when they come walking to me, but I just want them to really know that we’re all like this,” he said. “Some people, they want to talk to me because I’m the Hispanic guy from Rochester, so a lot of guys tend to favor me. But I let them know, there’s a lot of good guys here. I haven’t met one guy from Lockport who doesn’t have my back.”