Remember the boat people who escaped from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon? Detective Mike was one of them. He was ten years old.
Fortunate to have an uncle in Texas to sponsor him, he made his way to Houston. But once there, he was influenced by the wrong crowd. He was sent to Cherryville, North Carolina to live with another uncle. After high school, he got a degree from UNC-C. He planned a career that didn’t take off, and because he was profoundly affected by a scary ordeal endured by an Asian family, he chose a career in law enforcement. And why? To make a difference.
The family I mentioned above was new to this country. They were tied up and robbed in their home by an Asian gang. There were three reasons they didn’t contact police. First of all, they didn’t speak English. Secondly, they were afraid if they reported the crime, the gang would come back and retaliate. And thirdly, they didn’t trust police.
Detective Mike felt compelled to make a change. He was accepted to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Academy as the city’s first Vietnamese candidate. Even when he was attending the academy, he was called upon to be an interpreter. On one occasion, a patrol car picked him up from the academy and took him to the hospital. There he was asked to explain to a Vietnamese family that their four-year-old child had died. The doctor couldn’t do it. The police couldn’t do it. It was up to Mike, who was not yet a sworn officer. Once he told them the sad news, he had to tell them an autopsy would be performed. To cut into the deceased is against Asian culture; therefore, he had to find a way to explain it that would be acceptable to the grieving parents. He told them that the doctors had to find out what caused their son to die so that they can be sure their other children would not get sick too.
Detective Mike is one of ten officers assigned to the Gang Unit. He works with two division in Charlotte and specializes in Asian gangs. As with the CMPD Police Academy Class, he spends a lot of time holding classes to educate the public on gangs.
The wonderful thing is Detective Mike is making a difference with young people, even talking some of them out of the gang life. He understands the clash of the two cultures. On one hand, the Eastern culture teaches the child to excel in everything and if they are to do bad things, it brings shame on the whole family. The Western culture is less restrictive, where parents support the children in whatever makes the child happy.
Detective Mike is so charged with energy and enthusiasm, he takes my breath away. He is a small guy with boyish good looks. He does not look the way you’d expect an officer to look, but don’t let his size and youthful apperance fool you. He is the real deal, and the best of the best in his specialized field.
Detective Mike, I have a question for you. Living in Vietnam as a child, did you ever imagine one day you…..Nah, guess not.
Note: You can find more information about gangs in an earlier post I wrote called: “Why I Could Never Join A Gang.”