By BRIANNA RODRIGUEZ
USFSP Student Reporter
ST. PETERSBURG – Police Officer Richard Van went to school to become a mechanic, but a criminal justice class led to a career in law enforcement instead.
Van, 27, is a first-generation Vietnamese American who grew up in South Florida. His girlfriend, a nurse, doesn’t mind his career in law enforcement, he says.
Van has a degree in criminology and law from the University of Florida. He has been with the department for three years. He has also worked in law enforcement for Santa Fe College, Marion County and the University of Florida
He patrols a zone that covers most of the near south side around 22nd Street. He works 2 p.m. to midnight four days a week. He has never fired his weapon.
Van says that he enjoys interacting with people in the community.
“We talk to all different people with different types of backgrounds,” said Van.
He says that many of his calls are for reports of domestic abuse and battery.
During calls, Van sometimes uses sarcasm as a technique to make people feel comfortable but also to obtain the information that he needs.
Van says he isn’t bothered by the way the news media covers law enforcement but finds it entertaining.
“It’s interesting what they say in the news and what they report,” said Van. “It’s like reading Reader’s Digest. It’s a book; it’s there but you’re not going to remember everything.”
Van says that he hates dealing with people who don’t care. He urges people who are suspects in minor crimes to own up to it. If it’s a major crime, he suggests they get a lawyer.
Van says he aspires to work his way up and become an undercover officer.