CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- The holidays are a time to show gratitude for those who’ve made a difference. In honor of the holiday season, an Army Reserve Soldier from New York, who wears two uniforms, recently received recognition from New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.
Staff Sgt. Samuel Garcia, intelligence analyst noncommissioned officer, 719th Movement Control Battalion, is currently deployed to Camp Arifjan serving on his second deployment, but when he’s home he serves his community working for the New York City Police Department.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Garcia and his family moved to New York City in the early 90’s. He grew up in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, which was big in crime at times, but was raised by a very family first orientated family.
“I feel 100 percent tied to my roots and growing up where I did. I love my culture and what it represents,” Garcia said. “I still enjoy the music and especially the food. The most memorable thing is my family’s sense of togetherness. We are all really close.”
Garcia originally joined the Army Reserve in 2012 to broaden his professional experiences and prepare him more in his civilian career. At the time, he had more than 10 years as a case analyst with a corporate restructuring company.
“When I started looking at joining the Army Reserve, I wanted something that would be beneficial to my civilian career,” he said. “I looked at many different Army career choices and the idea of becoming an intel analyst was one of my top choices.”
However, making a difference in national security was not his only interest. Garcia also wanted to invest in his community. In 2016, he decided to give his services to the New York City Police Department as a neighborhood coordination officer.
“My initial desire for joining the NYPD was to help bring change and help people. I know there’s currently negative views on police departments,” Garcia said. “I wanted to try and change that by bringing my experiences and build relationships between the people and the department.”
Garcia serves as the neighborhood coordination officer for Sector B, in the 9th Precinct. In that role, he serves as a liaison between the police and the community, a key-crime fighter, and a problem solver in the sector.
“We familiarize ourselves with the residents and their problems by attending community meetings with neighborhood leaders and clergy, visiting schools, following up on previous incidents, and using creative techniques and adaptive skills in order to get information. They function as adjuncts to the local detective squads, responding to breaking incidents, developing leads and evidence, and doing whatever it takes to keep the neighborhood safe and secure,” Garcia said.
Garcia has found that his skillset as an Army intel analyst has helped him to be a more proficient police officer and vice versa.
“Being a neighborhood coordination officer has taught me to remain adaptable as scenarios can change with the blink of an eye,” he said. “During the investigatory process of an emergency call, neighborhood coordination officers piece together information from a variety of sources in order to make on the spot decisions or build an investigative report. In order to deter crime in certain areas of our sector, my partner and I conduct pattern analysis to identify areas that would require our police presence or attention.”
Between his time with the Army Reserve and the New York City Police Department, Garcia has given over a quarter of his life to the nation and his community. Through living the Army values, Garcia has been able to find balance in his careers.
“I’ve taken all of the Army values with me when I started working for the New York City Police Department. As soon as I came in, I became the company sergeant taking on 29 people. The Army value of respect translated into the NYPD model of CPR [courteously, professionalism and respect] and through integrity we try to do what is right at all times, especially being leaders of the community,” Garcia explained.
It is because of his dual service that Shea called Garcia to wish him happy holidays.
“We have 1,200 people serving in the department, on behalf of me personally, it is my honor, but also on behalf of everyone here in New York City, thank you for your service. And not just you Sammy, but every member of the NYPD putting on a second uniform and every man and woman who serves with you keeping us safe,” Shea said.
The call came as a great surprise for Garcia.
“Getting a call from the commissioner was a huge morale booster. I felt honored and I felt more of a part of that family. I really feel like I’m ready to go back home and get back to my job protecting the sector I’m assigned,” Garcia said.
Garcia shared the commissioner’s message with his family back home.
“My family was very proud of me. I remember when my family felt unsure of me even being in the military,” he said. “Asking me why I am possibly putting myself in danger, and eventually with the different experiences and coming home with stories and awards for my efforts in everything I’ve done, they told me they are truly proud of me for my service to the nation and the NYPD.”