For seven years of his eleven-plus years here, Hector has worked with police dogs as a certified K-9 Dog Handler. He was trained at K-9 school with German Shepherd, Sampson, and worked the nightshift with Alan, also a German Shepherd. Together, they were involved in various tasks, such as building searches, tracking people and items, and apprehensions. The dogs are trained to recognize various odors, usually narcotics. Alan is now retired and Hector has moved onto other responsibilities. Of his years as K-9 handler, Hector says, “It was rewarding but the training was grueling—you need to be re-certified every year. K-9 officers come from all over the country. There are 30 to 40 dogs being trained all at the same time. You don’t want to be the one who fails and look bad and let your agency down!”
Hector has worked two years as a Motorcycle Officer and another two years in the Marco Island Marine Unit to enforce City Ordinances and Florida Statutes and to prevent Resource Violations (regarding fisheries), and BUI (Boating Under the Influence). He recalls a tragic incident in which he assisted in a five-person fatality in open water. But, in his time in the MIPD he has also saved a person who attempted to commit suicide.
Hector says he is “an avid boater”. When off duty, he owns and operates his own Quality Backwater Fishing Charters business, using his 24-foot flat bay boat to take folks fishing. He enjoys family trips going to the Keys for lobster, bringing the boat down with them. As a volunteer for the Mackle Park Fishing Camp, Hector takes kids out on fishing trips in the summer.
For two years, Officer Diaz filled the role of Director of the Marco Island Optimist program providing the opportunity for children in the local area to participate in sports. There are approximately 350 youngsters who enjoy the program. The sports include football, soccer and basketball. Most of Hector’s evening and his Saturdays are taken up with coaching: He coaches 10th to 12th grade football; and 5, 6 and 7 year old girls’ soccer.
Hector believes in the importance of fitness and, as a competitive power lifter and three years’ experience as a semi-pro footballer, he, himself, is a great inspiration. It’s no surprise that, as soon as I met with him, Officer Hector Diaz immediately began to talk about the Marco Island Optimist sports program for kids. It is obvious that Hector cares deeply about the young people in our community and about making sports activities available to them.
The kids must love being coached by Officer Diaz—his broad smile and enthusiasm are contagious.