MINT HILL, NC – Mint Hill’s Police Department is thrilled to welcome Jonah Rodriguez to the force!
Officer Rodriguez may have just been sworn in on July 20, but he’s no stranger to his fellow officers. From 2014 to 2016, Rodriguez took part in the Mint Hill Police Explorers, a program for young men and women ages 14 to 21 who are interested in learning about a career in law enforcement.
“I’d always wanted to be a police officer,” says Rodriguez, whose school resource officer – also a Mint Hill policeman – turned him on to the Explorers program. “I’d always dress as a police officer for Halloween, and my birthday parties would be police- and army-themed. When I became old enough to become an Explorer, that’s how I got started.”
Family concerns took Rodriguez to Florida with his mom for his senior year, but when he turned eighteen, he returned to his grandmother’s house in Mint Hill and graduated from Independence. Ten days after graduating high school, Rodriguez joined the army and began basic training in Fort Benning, GA.
“I joined the army because I wanted to get experience,” says Rodriguez, who spent two and a half years as an infantryman in Fort Bliss, TX. “I thought the army was a perfect fit for building my knowledge of how to deal with people and tactical knowledge of safety.”
When Rodriguez reached the age of 21, he could think of no better place to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a police officer than right here in Mint Hill. “I’ve always wanted to live here in Mint Hill, so I decided to come back from Texas,” he says. “It’s the town I grew up in. I felt like I knew this department, so I decided to come back here and apply for Mint Hill, and they’ve welcomed me with open arms.”
“He was a great asset to the program and always wanted to help others,” says Lieutenant Lezette, who runs the Mint Hill Police Explorers program. “I am proud of Jonah for following his dreams. You hear all the time kids say ‘I wanna do this,’ or, ‘I wanna do that.’ Jonah said he wanted to be a Mint Hill Police Officer, and that is exactly what he is doing. It’s a feel good story for me, and he is such a great person to be around. He is doing so well with his start as a police officer, and he will go far in his career. I look forward to watching his journey.”
Officially on the force for just over four weeks now, Rodriguez is relishing the opportunity to fulfill his dream in his hometown. “My favorite thing about being a police officer is just interacting with the town of Mint Hill,” says Rodriguez, “being able to serve those that live in this town and my family that lives in this town. Working with all the people I’ve known since the Police Explorers, being able to finally enforce laws and just make the community safe.”