WATSONVILLE—Three new officers began their new careers with Watsonville Police Department on Aug. 16, and are now in the early stages of WPD’s 6-month field training program.
Francisco Felix, Jasmine Tirado and Johnny Miranda are now riding along with experienced officers as they learn their jobs.
Johnny Miranda was born in Seaside and lives in Marina. He says he was considering joining the U.S. Marine Corps upon graduating high school, and was in the Reserve Officers Training Corps for four years to prepare for that.
His father dissuaded him from that path, and so Miranda went to college and began a career in the retail industry. But his desire to help people, particularly young people, drove him to a career in law enforcement, he says.
“Hopefully I can make a difference in people’s lives,” he said.
Jasmine Tirado, who is from Salinas and who participates in Aztec dance, said she felt it was important to not only step forward as a woman, but also as a woman of color to become a police officer.
“I really feel that I wanted to give back to a community like Watsonville,” she said. “I just feel there are not enough women like me in this field. Since day one, every person I have come in contact with speaks very nicely about the Watsonville Police Department. They say, ‘You are going to have a lot of respect and guidance there.’ That is so important to me.”
Tirado said she was the first person in her family to serve in the military — the National Guard — and that moving into law enforcement seemed like a “natural fit.”
“It feels good; I feel very comfortable in this new position,” she said.
Watsonville resident Francisco Felix graduated from Pajaro Valley High School, and started a family at a young age. He now has two sons, 3 and 1. He purchased a home with his wife, and his desire to become a police officer had to wait.
“Responsibilities kicked in, so I decided to work and put my dreams on hold a bit,” he said.
Felix began a training program last year to become a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputy, but that was waylaid by the Covid-19 pandemic, he says. A brief stint working in the jail system refocused his career path and inspired him to be a police officer.
“I like the excitement,” he said. “I’ve always had a thing for being out and about in my community.”
One of the positions comes thanks to Measure Y, the half-cent sales tax measure approved by voters in 2014 and approved again in 2020 as Measure Y. That measure has funded numerous firefighter and police officer positions, in addition to equipment such as fire trucks.