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Im one step closer to where I want to be

New reserve police officer Nate Brown sees his work as a badge of honor
by: Jonathan House, Beaverton Reserve Officer Nate Brown patrols city streets during one of his recent Friday night volunteer shifts. In the glow of police lights, Brown receives instructions from his Field Training Officer Ryan Murphy while checking on the license and regis

Nate Brown is well on his way to accomplishing one of his many goals in life.

The 22-year-old, who recently graduated from the Beaverton Police Department's reserve academy, is working to become a full-time Beaverton police officer.

In addition to volunteering a minimum of 20 hours a month as a reserve officer with the department, Brown works full-time in the Advanced Pain Management office while also continuing his studies at Portland Community College's Sylvania campus.

'I am extremely impressed by Nate as a person,' said Beaverton Police Chief David Bishop. 'He is 100 percent committed to becoming a police officer.

'I'm not sure I've met anyone who is that committed to becoming one. Nate's doing it the hard way and he's doing it right.'

Brown graduated from Aloha High School in 2002 and was awarded a football scholarship to Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz, Calif.

Three months into his pre-season training, he tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament for the third time and was forced to move back to Beaverton to have knee surgery and enter the work force.

All the while, he remained focused on his future.

'I always knew what I was going to do,' Brown said. 'I just wasn't 21 yet.

'As a kid, I wanted to go into law enforcement. As you get older, you start to realize what the job really is and that made me more intrigued. I like being part of a team. I knew I didn't feel like sitting at a desk for the rest of my life.'

He applied for Beaverton's reserve program the same month he turned 21, the age required to qualify for consideration.

After passing a written test, oral board, background investigation, psychological evaluation and medical and physical exam, Brown was invited to participate in Beaverton's academy.

The four-month academy provides recruits with nearly 300 hours of initial training, mirroring training that full-time officers are required to complete.

Each class focuses on topics ranging from defensive tactics to firearm training to emergency vehicle operation to community policing to crime scene management to report writing.

'I liked everything about the academy,' Brown said. 'We had a lot of instructors that came to our classes to talk about the fields they specialized in.

'I wouldn't have picked anyone else to train us than Officer Chris Lamberger.'

Getting the badge

During the academy, members of the reserve class have the opportunity to meet members of the department from every division.

The department also gets to know the recruits, said Officer Lamberger, a senior training officer who oversees the program.

'Nate is a good model of the type of individuals we look for when selecting people for the reserve unit because he possesses the qualities we look for in a police officer,' Lamberger said. 'Nate is an example of a person with good character who has integrity and intelligence as well as the physical skills to excel in police work.'

Not every reserve enters the program wanting to eventually become a full-time officer, some view the volunteer reserve program as a way to give back to the community, he added.

But for those who do apply for a paid position, training officers have the opportunity to learn more about the candidates.

'We know the person's capabilities and their character,' Lamberger explained. 'And, we know initially when they are going into it, that we are hiring a quality person as a sworn police officer.

'We're not looking at a person completely cold, talking to them for 20 minutes and deciding what a person is like. We have a year to get to know them and see if they are a fit for the agency.'

The training does not end with the academy.

Graduates of the reserve academy are required to participate in twice a month training classes, yearly defensive tactics training, quarterly firearms training and other sessions.

They are also assigned to a patrol officer for additional field training.

'This is a real commitment,' Lamberger said.

Graduating from the reserve academy marked a milestone for Brown.

'It means I'm one step closer to where I want to be,' Brown said. 'It feels good, like I accomplished something.

'There's a lot more I'm working toward in my life, becoming a full-time police officer is one of them.'

During the May graduation ceremony, Brown and the 13 other reserves in his class were asked to invite someone to present them with their reserve officer shield.

The badge presentation is a way to honor a family member or mentor for his or her support.

Brown asked Chief Bishop to present him with his badge.

'I'm close to my family, but there was no other person I thought of other than the chief,' Brown said. 'I look at the chief as a mentor. He's not just a friend, but someone that can teach me a lot.'

Bishop was proud to perform the honor.

'It was such an unexpected honor for him to ask me,' Bishop said. 'I almost feel like a proud parent.'

A double life

Brown looks forward to the day when he will have the opportunity to apply for a full-time position with the police department.

'My personality fits with Beaverton,' Brown said. 'I grew up here and don't see myself working with any other agency.

'I want to stay loyal to the department and the chief. I like the leadership and I respect everybody here. Everybody I've come in contact with so far has taught me a great deal.'

He also likes the way officers are trained and the department's partnership with the community.

'There are a lot of things I would like to do within the agency, hopefully I will be blessed enough to do it all,' he said.

Until then, he will complete the college hours needed to apply for a paid officer's position, and fulfill the responsibilities of a reserve officer.

'It feels like I live a double life now, I'm an employee and student by day and police officer at night,' Brown said.