The Dentist who Became an Auxiliary Police Officer
Almost every little boy grows up dreaming of becoming that ubiquitous storybook character: a police officer, a firefighter, a construction worker, or a pilot. The helpful police officer dressed in the blue uniform and cap was always my favorite. Many dreams begin after hearing of the adventures of these larger-than-life characters. As boys mature into teenagers and then adults, some pursue these dreams, and some choose to follow other passions. I have been fortunate - I have done both.
I graduated from dental school in 2003 and became the dentist I had wanted to be since the sixth grade. My career as a dentist has been very fulfilling, delivering much satisfaction and enjoyment. I have great patients, a wonderful staff, and every day brings new challenges into which I am able to sink my teeth.
One day I was reading a community paper and came across an article that would lead me to another lifelong passion. I read a little paragraph buried within the weekly police blotter that the Rocky River Police Department was accepting applications for new auxiliary members. Instantly that childhood hero of my dreams was reawakened. By becoming an auxiliary officer, not only would I be involved with a police force, but I would also have the opportunity to give back to the community in which I was raised.
With the enthusiastic support of my wife, I hurried down to the station to pick up an application. Suffice to say, no stone was left unturned in the application process. I had not been this anxious since taking the dental board exams. After a few nerve-wracking weeks waiting to hear back, I was finally notified that my application had been accepted. I was sworn in as an Auxiliary Police Officer for the City of Rocky River in September 2008.
Another Dream Come True
Like dentistry, being an auxiliary officer has been everything I imagined it would be and more. The auxiliary’s primary duty is to assist the department where and when needed. Many times, I help with directing traffic during parades, charity runs, and construction. Sometimes on Friday or Saturday nights, I ride along with a full-time officer. I have witnessed firsthand the roller coaster of emotions that police officers experience on a daily basis. Most important, I stand as a visible presence of law and order in the city every time I volunteer.
As an auxiliary officer, I am trained to deal with most situations that could arise. For training purposes, I have been pepper-sprayed, Tasered, attacked by a police dog…all in the name of serving my community. At the monthly auxiliary meetings, we learn about a particular aspect of law enforcement. I have listened to experts on a wide variety of topics such as domestic terrorism, human trafficking, and self-defense, to name a few. Each month my knowledge base grows a little bit more and makes me a better-prepared auxiliary, better prepared to serve the city. My hard work, many hours of volunteering and dedication have been rewarded recently, as I was promoted within the auxiliary ranks to Sergeant.
Personally, I have made many great friends during my time as an auxiliary. We are a group of like-minded individuals with more than a few personality traits in common. I have enjoyed the camaraderie immensely. Some of my friends have even entrusted me with their teeth! You get to know a person very well when you are sharing a patrol car for hours on end. Just like in the movies, you tend to share personal details with your partner in between the action.
And there has certainly been plenty of action over the years. More than a few times, I have felt the adrenaline rush. Whether it is being involved in a pursuit on Interstate 90 or assisting with a late night traffic stop, the threat of potential bodily harm starts one’s heart racing. I have been able to stay out of harm’s way, as part of an auxiliary’s duty is to assist but at the same time to know his limitations.
As a father myself now, I watch my son get excited at seeing a police car or a fire truck go by. When we pass a construction site, he can call out the names of all the equipment. Maybe someday he, too, will be fortunate enough to follow his two passions in life. And lest this article come back to haunt me, my one-year-old daughter may also have the same opportunity. For the time being, both my children will have to listen to their father’s tales from the dental office and from the police cruiser.
Dr. Jeff Hildebrandt
Jeffrey Hildebrandt is a general dentist with a practice located in Middleburg Heights.