Ruth Hernandez is living out a dream two ways.
First, she wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement and secondly, she wanted to become a K-9 officer. Both of those dreams have now become a reality for the 31-year-old Officer Hernandez - the newest officer to join the Thomson Police Department.
"It was a big accomplishment when I graduated in the first class from the Augusta Technical College Law Enforcement Training School," said Officer Hernandez during an interview with The McDuffie Mirror last Thursday. "My dream job was to work towards becoming a K-9 officer."
She was inspired to become a K-9 officer by watching the movie K-9, which starred James Belushi as a K-9 officer.
"Watching that movie really inspired me to become a K-9 officer," she said.
Officer Hernandez said she felt honored and nearly cried when she received a telephone call about three weeks ago from Thomson Police Chief Joseph D. Nelson asking her to come to work for him.
"I'm honored to be working for a man so well respected in law enforcement," said Officer Hernandez. "Chief Nelson has a great reputation."
The new police officer is hoping to meet her new K-9 partner soon and getting familiar with the layout of Thomson.
"I can't wait to meet my K-9 partner," said Officer Hernandez. I'm looking forward to getting to know Thomson and the people who live and work here, because I love community policing," said Officer Hernandez, who hails from Puerto Rico and speaks Spanish fluently. "I want to get to know kids in this community and to let them know that I am here to help them any way that I can. I'll even help get a cat out of a tree, if I need to. Being a police officer is about being there when you are needed."
Chief Nelson said he is pleased to have as the newest member of the Thomson Police Department Officer Hernandez.
"She struck me as a hard worker and go-getter from the time I first met her," recalled Chief Nelson, noting the two first met when she came to the Washington Police Department where he was working as the chief investigator at the time. "She is going to be an asset to our department as soon as we get her certified as our new K-9 officer. She also will help us a lot since she is bilingual. We need someone who can translate within our Hispanic neighborhoods."
Officer Hernandez graduated from the Augusta Tech Law Enforcement Training School on June 4, 2009. There, she earned the distinction as "Top Gun," having been taught by Instructor Alfonso Williams. The law enforcement program there is directed by Ken Jones.
While attending the law enforcement training school, Officer Hernandez worked as a commercial specialist at an Auto Zone store in Augusta. It was a job she held for five years. While working there, she saved money so that she could attend law enforcement school.
"It cost me $3,500 out of my pocket," said Officer Hernandez. "That's how much I wanted to become a police officer."
It wasn't long after graduation that she was hired as road patrol deputy with the Burke County Sheriff's Department. Working for Sheriff Gregory Coursey, Officer Hernandez was trained by Deputy Sgt. Jimmy Golden.
"He (Sgt. Golden) really taught me a lot of things," said Offcier Hernandez, noting that she would always remember fondly the Burke County Sheriff's Department and the men and women she worked with there. "They have a lot of fine, dedicated people working at the Burke County Sheriff's Department. I really learned a lot from them."
Officer Hernandez said her philosophy in life is: "To treat people the way I would want to be treated."
She is the mother of a 9-year-old daughter, Mylin, and they plan to move to Thomson in the near future.