All his previous training and job experience has paid off in Rod Court's new role as a Merced Police Department sergeant.
His 18 years carrying a badge has included work as a state narcotics officer, Atwater police reserve and stints with the gang, major crimes and patrol divisions.
The 40-year-old Merced native said becoming a sergeant and shift supervisor presents a whole new set of challenges in communications and administrative skills.
He supervises a mix of veteran and brand-new officers and said there's a fine line between providing guidance and not micromanaging others.
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"I like it; I'm enjoying it," Court said. "It's busy. I'm responsible for managing myself and organizing others. In this job you can't be thin-skinned or shy. This job has a tendency to jade you or make you cynical. I like to treat people the way I would want to be treated."
Court spent from 1988-1990 as an Atwater police reserve officer and is grateful for that agency partly sponsoring him at the police academy. He worked at the Merced police from 1990-1999 when he got a chance to join the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement of the state Department of Justice.
Court spent from 1999-2004 with BNE in Los Angeles and Sacramento, tracking down methamphetamine manufacturers and marijuana growers.
While going to the state agency seemed the right thing to do at the time, he said he missed the Merced police and came back home in August 2004 as a patrol officer.
Merced Police Chief Russ Thomas said Court has worked all facets of the profession and did an excellent job investigating major crimes. Thomas said Court is an exemplary leader and came out on top of a very competitive process to become a sergeant.
Thomas said Court is a "good street cop" and should be able to share his experiences with the department's new recruits, strengthening their investigative skills.
Sgt. Don King said Court was a "good, solid beat partner" when they both worked patrol.
"He's an asset to the department," King said. "I'm glad to see we're able to use his experience."
A 1985 Livingston High School graduate, Court will graduate from Merced College in May with an associate of arts degree in criminal justice and plans to pursue a bachelor's degree. As an 18-year-old, a friend persuaded him to take a criminal justice class taught by former district attorney Gordon Spencer and this whetted his appetite for police work.
Spending a year and a half with the Gang Violence Suppression Unit and the Major Crime Unit were both good experiences. He has spent 11 years as a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics squad.
Court said it's important police deliver good service to the public and respond to increased calls for service in a growing city.
Why leave a rewarding job with the state?
"This was home. I wanted to come back; all my friends and family are here. I missed this place and the department," Court said.
Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2485 or firstname.lastname@example.org.