West Lampeter Township Police Officer Juan Guadalupe

West Lampeter Township Police Officer Juan Guadalupe is bilingual, one of the many valuable skills he possesses that helps him successfully serve his duty in law enforcement.

Guadalupe was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico before moving to Massachusetts two months later; he is also Spanish and can speak the language fluently.

“Being bilingual helps out a lot,” Guadalupe said. “I get called out a lot to different departments to assist them. Pennsylvania State Police was here the other day with a DUI.”

Guadalupe has been a police officer for three years and is certified in breath-test operations and advanced roadside impairment driving enforcement (ARIDE).

“I had to run through fields and read everything on the test in Spanish. It makes me feel good to help the community and my fellow brothers.”

He wants to eventually become a MCSAP Officer, whose job is to inspect commercial vehicles. The interest makes sense as Guadalupe was a truck driver for 13 years before transitioning to law enforcement. He owned his own company transporting general freight, a job that allowed him to see all 50 states.

“Becoming a police officer was one of my goals,” Guadalupe said. “One day I got home from trucking and my kids were sitting at the table with my wife. They were like, ‘Hey Dad, you always talk about being a police officer. We want to challenge you to go to the police academy.’ I kind of looked at my wife and she smiled and I'm like, ‘I'll take that.’”

Guadalupe grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts, in a rough neighborhood. He’d always see a certain police officer when he was playing at the park with friends.

“He would always stop and come play with us,” Guadalupe said. “He would be our mentor, positive mentor. That always stood in my heart and motivated me. I always thought that the world needs that type of officer. That's why I became one.”

Guadalupe moved to Lancaster County because he wanted a better environment and future for his family. He eventually became a Strasburg Borough Police Officer and loved the railroad. He loves the countryside and has a 40-foot camper that he takes up to Maine to decompress from the stressors of the job and relax.

“We like going camping, enjoying the outdoors,” Guadalupe said. “I also like hunting, fishing. Anything that's outdoors where I can just ease my mind. You have to separate yourself from the job sometimes. It can be hard, traumatic. I talk to my wife and kids. I don't keep it inside if I have a bad day. Sometimes police officers have a hard time letting it out. It’s okay to talk about it.”

When Guadalupe isn’t on his camper, he’s back in Puerto Rico where he visits twice a year. He understands a myth his community occasionally has.

“There’s a myth out there for Spanish people that you don't see, don't tell, don't say,” he said. “That's wrong. I grew up like that, too. But you shouldn't be like that. If you see something, say something. You can be a key witness to something.”

Guadalupe believes being a police officer is a great career noting the solid pension program and various potential areas and ways to advance your career. And for him, he’s able to be a positive role model like that officer was for him as a kid in Massachusetts.

“The most rewarding part about being a police officer is the support from the community itself,” Guadalupe said. “You know, you drive around, you have kids waving at you. They're asking you, ‘Hey, can you turn on the lights?’ I will always pull over if I have the time and I'm not on call. I interact with families and talk to the kids, let them roll around the police car, hit the buttons and be a positive mentor for them just like they were for me back in the day.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Sean McBryan, semcbryan@co.lancaster.pa.us; Twitter: @SeanMcBryanLanc.