Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Feature: School Resource Unit, Deputy Espindola

Growing Up, He Never Saw Himself As A Cop

By Heather Benjamin, Mesa County Sheriff's Office
*Special Note: This originally ran in the Latino Alliance Newspaper

The chair can't have side rails or Deputy Sal Espindola won't be able to sit, not with his duty belt on anyway, to get comfortable for this interview. Fortunately, there are no arm rails, and so he makes himself comfortable for a conversation about how he got to Grand Junction.

"I was raised in a Hispanic household in south Phoenix," Espindola said.

MCSO Photo: Deputy Sal Espindola
June 2015

Did he always want to be a cop?

"I used to run from the cops (as a kid)," he said.

Espindola got average to poor grades in school and upon high school graduation was enrolled in the United States Marine Corps. He served eight years in the U.S. Marines, following in his father's footsteps. His father, also a Marine, is a Vietnam Veteran. He also served in the Gulf War and did two tours in Somalia, Africa.

In the military, though, the junior Espindola wasn't in a law enforcement role. Rather, he was a trained sniper in the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Division.

Once his military service ended, he returned to Phoenix for college. This time, he was getting A's for the first time in his life.

"I'm kind of a health nut," he said about himself today, but it also applied back in the early 2000's. Graduating from Arizona State University with a degree in kinesiology and physical education, he saw himself being a P.E. teacher in a Phoenix area school.

As an intern in college, he worked on writing grants for funds to create and sustain recreation centers and sports activities to keep inner city kids busy and out of trouble.

"That's how I got in touch with cops," he said about what began his connection to Phoenix Police Department.

He became a certified peace officer in 2006, in Arizona.

Espindola worked some schools as a rotating resource officer for Phoenix PD, where he enjoyed mentoring kids, challenging them to better themselves and to push themselves harder. He encouraged them never to consider race or ethnicity, but to be great because of skill and reputation.

Espindola served with the Phoenix PD until 2011 when he moved to Colorado.

Fate and family brought him to Mesa County in 2012, when he was also hired at the Mesa County Sheriff's Office. And, just late last year, he was offered a chance to work with kids again. This time, as a School Resource Officer at Central High School. He is proud to make an impact on kids. It shows in his smile and passion when he articulates the words, "They can see I don't come from money, I'm not anglo, I have tattoos."

Espindola has high personal fitness standards and when he sees kids work for it and want it, he will push them and mentor them. His family name is Hispanic, and he was raised in the Hispanic culture (he credits his stepmother and grandmother). But really his ethnicity and culture are extensively multi-racial.

When asked to be more specific, he said, closest to his heart is the military and law enforcement bond.

"When I was in the military, we had one color; it was green. Law enforcement has one color; it's blue," he said.

Every chance he gets these days, these are the positive influences he shares with the students at Central High School.

Where will students find him come August 3?

Before shift starts, he is in the Central High School gym working out, everyday. Then on to mentoring.

You can reach Deputy Sal Espindola, at: Sal.Espindola@mesacounty.us

Tips From School District 51 Officials--

  1. Lists of school supplies: https://connect.d51schools.org/sites/shared/Pages/Student-Fees-and-Supplies.aspx
  2. Student/Parent Handbook & Athletic forms: https://connect.d51schools.org/sites/shared/Pages/Forms.aspx
  3. Enrollment and Registration: https://connect.d51schools.org/sites/shared/Pages/registration.aspx
  4. Student Transportation: https://connect.d51schools.org/sites/shared/Pages/transportation.aspx

Back to School Checklist:

  • Register your child at their attendance-area school, birth certificate required
  • Have all required immunizations completed, available at Mesa County Health Department: http://health.mesacounty.us/clinics/template.aspx?id=3409&ekfxmensel=effecfb86_201_203
  • Plan ahead for transportation: how will your child get to and from school
  • Apply for free and reduced lunch: https://www.applyforlunch.com/Application
  • Look at lunches for the week and plan lunches from home
  • Pick-up school supplies
  • Have a fashion show and select clothes the night before
  • Transfer the school calendar to your family calendars
  • Reset sleep schedules and make sure kids get at least 8 hours of sleep each night
  • Practice your morning routine to make it fun and exciting
  • Plan time to meet your child’s teacher, but set an appointment if you need to discuss any specific issues or concerns

A comprehensive guide will distribute through the Sentinel and individual schools have/will contact registered parents directly. www.d51schools.org is the central repository of information.