by MATT MOLINAR//Opinion Editor
One South Plains College graduate has gone from calling the cops several times, to becoming the patrol officer responding to the emergency.
Amber Rodriguez grew up in Lubbock, where she also experienced what most people would consider an absolute nightmare.
At 16 years old, Rodriguez became the victim of date rape
“That’s actually how I got my 6 year-old son,” explains Rodriguez. “I was in a forced relationship for two years, and he told me that if I left him, he was going to kill me. I believed him. But he’s in prison now.”
After finally becoming free from her abuser, Rodriguez began rebuilding her life by going back to school and searching for new opportunities. While in school, Rodriguez did everything she could in order to support her child, as well as herself.
“I opened up my own small jewelry business,” Rodriguez said. “While I was doing that, I was working as a waitress at Zio’s. Then, I went on to get my GED from Region 17.”
After receiving her GED, Rodriguez made the choice to continue her education by attending South Plains College. Because of the help she received from police officers during her abusive relationship, Rodriguez was inspired and began attending the SPC Police Academy.
“I didn’t want to remain a victim,” Rodriguez, 22, said. “My mindset was to turn this into something good. No matter what you’ve been through, you can turn it into something amazing. I always heard from people I knew that SPC has a great law enforcement program. Lubbock County officers were telling me to go to SPC. I’m very glad I did, because it was a great experience.”
Before graduating From SPC in August 2015, Rodriguez applied for police jobs in Hockley County, where she later became employed in September.
“I got the job around Sept. 20,” Rodriguez said. “They called me about a month after I had applied and asked if I wanted to work. So I said, ‘Of course.’
For eight months, Rodriguez served as a jailor at the Hockley County Jail. After working at the jail, Rodriguez discovered a new opportunity for a position that had opened for a new patrol officer.
“I’ve been working in patrol for about five months now,” Rodriguez explained. “This is what I wanted to do. I get calls just like the ones I used to make, and I see myself in these situations. I was always ashamed to talk to the cops. So when I get to a call, I tell my story. Because if I went through the same thing and I got to where I am, and I’m only 22, you can do anything.”
Rodriguez has future plans for becoming a narcotics officer, an officer who specializes in drug cases.
“When you’re working at the jail, you see some crazy stuff,” Rodriguez said. “I saw how drugs affect people, and it’s not like I’m out to get people. I really want to help them. It tears apart families, and it ruins lives, and I want to help turn those lives around.”
Besides working for the Hockley County Sherrif’s Department, Rodriguez spends her free time playing music and singing at her church, “The Venue.”
“It’s a small church in Levelland,” Rodriguez explained. “We just started it, and it’s been running for about a month and one week.”
Rodriguez’s son currently lives with her parents in Lubbock while she builds her career. However, she says she sees him plenty, and plans on moving him to Levelland soon, where they will start their new life.
“Sadly, I don’t have family in Levelland,” Rodriguez said. “There’s no one here to help me raise him, and it hurts a lot. But it’s only temporary, and they love each other to death. I’m going to move him up here with me as soon as I can.”