Reporting Andrea Menniti
STOCKTON (CBS13) – It’ was a special day for a new Stockton police officer. He grew up in one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods, but turned his back on the bad guys.
It was all thanks to a boxing program sponsored by police that helped him find his calling to fight crime.
Young Alex Serrano is the first to complete the boxing program and go on to become a police officer.
“Seeing them walk in with their belt on, their uniform, boots shined up, it’s like a super hero walking in and it motivated me,” Serrano said.
Interacting with officers at the Stockton Police Youth Academy Boxing Program fueled Serrano’s desire to become one of the good guys.
“I didn’t want to be a statistic,” he said. “That’s when I decided to join the police department and do better with my life.”
Growing up in the projects and beating the odds wasn’t easy.
“I wasn’t the perfect child, I got into trouble. There’s many nights I fall asleep hearing gun shots and sirens,” said Serrano.
At age 14, Serrano joined the boxing gym. It was a safe haven where children ages 8 to 18 train after school, learning to fight from those who fight crime. Off duty officers run the program with volunteers.
“He’s a police officer; he can be a positive role model for junior cadets or youth boxers,” said Officer Joseph Silva.
Serrano spent six years boxing with police and put himself through the academy.
“It’s really an absolute honor to bring you on to the force today,” said Chief Eric Jones.
Serrano vowed to protect and serve the same dangerous streets he still calls home.
“I grew up in similar circumstances as they did, maybe the same neighborhood, so I could relate to people,” said Serrano.
There are about 30 boys in the boxing program. The program now has a new karate class, with room for more kids and teens in both.