WATSONVILLE — A little more than 7 years ago, 14-year-old Collin Travers sat in a police cruiser for a ride-along with Watsonville Police Sgt. Tony Figueroa.
During that time, Figueroa and other officers responded to a domestic disturbance that ended when a 41-year-old man rammed a woman’s vehicle with his own, and culminated when they drove the suspect to jail.
The experience was one of many throughout Travers’ life that helped cement his goal of becoming a police officer.
Not long after that, Travers joined the Watsonville Police Cadet program, where he stayed for six years. He completed police academy last year, and the five-month Field Training Officer program on Feb. 27. He was on his first week of solo patrol on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Figueroa handed Travers his new badge, which is emblazoned with “410” – the identification number that will be his until the day he retires.
“It’s ironic how things come full-circle,” said Figueroa, who oversees the field-training program. “He has the drive, he’s a smart kid. He has an eagerness to learn, and his dedication has got him to the point where he is now.”
Travers, now 21, has known he wanted to be a police officer since he was 5, when he saw his cousin Eric Taylor wearing a Watsonville Police uniform.
“It’s a dream come true, really,” he said of his new job.
Watsonville Police officer Tony Figueroa works a routine traffic stop on Maple Street with Watsonville Police cadet Collin Travers in 2012. (File photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)
Travers took a short break from patrol Tuesday to speak to the Register-Pajaronian.
He said the cadet program, with such training as mock arrests, traffic stops and report writing, helped prepare him for the job.
“It provided a huge foundation for me,” he said. “It gives youth that want to go into law enforcement confidence in their abilities.”
He has also served as a community service officer and a parking enforcement officer.
But he described the Field Training Officer program as the toughest part of his training.
“You’re constantly being watched and constantly being critiqued,” he said. “It’s stressful. You want to be on your A-game all the time but it’s hard when you make mistakes. You’re hard on yourself and you want to beat yourself up but you have to learn from your mistakes and move on.”
Travers is a Harbor High School graduate. He plans on taking classes at Cabrillo College to work toward his associate’s degree.
Through his entire journey to becoming an officer, he said he was driven by his desire to act as an advocate for the community.
“I became a police officer because I want to be the one to help people in a time of need, and be the person they can depend on,” he said.