TAYLOR —Matthew Derenick has known since he was a child that he wanted to be a police officer.
The 23-year-old Taylor native, who is being honored in the Times Leader Badge of Honor section, is a third generation officer in the Taylor Police Department. His father, Stephen Derenick, is the current police chief in the borough. Matthew’s grandfather also served as chief.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking as a child,” he said. “Because every single thing that you do, or not do, they still know about.”
“And it’s still that way,” he laughed. “He’s my chief now.”
But that dynamic never stopped Derenick from wanting to become a police officer. He said for as long as he can remember, that was the goal.
“My first Halloween I can remember was a police officer,” he said. “And I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
Derenick graduated from the police academy in May 2015, and currently works in Taylor, Old Forge and South Abington Township. He said growing up and seeing the respect his father and grandfather gave and received while they worked was something he admired, and wanted a job where he was out in the community over being in an office.
“I couldn’t sit behind a cubicle for eight hours a day,” he said.
Despite the public perception of law enforcement across the country, Derenick said it didn’t deter him from following his heart.
“I can’t say there was any hesitation,” he said.
In the academy, he said his instructors did show his classes videos from instances with officers across the country and talked about current events involving law enforcement officers.
“I was told in the academy, ‘Just imagine everyone has a cellphone camera on you,’” he said.
“You are on the world stage.”
Because of that perception, he said there are things he and other officers do in their communities to change that perception through outreach with students in the schools to just talking with members of the community.
“It’s all about how you talk to people,” he said.
“You can’t go up with just a hard head, now it’s a new style of policing.”
This hasn’t slowed Derenick’s passion for the work or his readiness to serve. He said the most rewarding part of his job is just being able to do what he loves every day.”
“Every day you come in here it’s something different,” he said.
Being able to work closely with his father is another rewarding part, he said.
“I’ve always wanted to work with my dad,” he said.
Derenick said it’s so important to recognize the work of police officers and all first responders during a time when public perception of law enforcement is rocky.
“A lot of the work we do couldn’t be accomplished without our EMTs and fire fighters.”
“We are people, too, underneath that uniform,” he said. “We’re normal people like everybody else.”
To read more Badge of Honor stories, click here.
Reach Brigid Edmunds-Lawrence at 570-991-6113 or on Twitter @brigidedmunds