MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - More than two decades into his career with law enforcement, one Memphis Police lieutenant talks about what got him where he is.
He says his Hispanic heritage contributed to his success.
Michael Rosario doesn't spend much time on these streets anymore.
"I remember myself out here as a young officer trying to learn,” said Rosario.
The Spanish-speaking Memphis Police lieutenant has worked his way up the ranks and is now assigned to the sex crimes division.
"That puts me coming up on my 22nd-year anniversary soon,” said Rosario.
Rosario was born in New Jersey. His family eventually moved to a small town in Pennsylvania - when he was a teenager, they moved to the country where his family originated.
"I was fortunate enough to live in Puerto Rico for almost four years -- to learn and speak the language, to experience the people, the culture, the music, the food,” said Rosario.
In 1988, Rosario moved back to the U.S. and began attending Penn State University, before deciding to join the Marine Corps to work as an aircraft mechanic.
He was later transferred to Millington's military base.
"Went to the Gulf War... Desert Shield, Desert Storm in 1990, and transitioned out of the Marine Corps in 1993,” said Rosario.
After serving in the Marines for almost five years, Rosario says he felt a calling to come back to the Memphis-area.
In September of 1997, he began the police academy and later gradated.
Since then, Rosario has worked as a patrolman, in the gang unit, felony response office and more -- saying he's been able to move up the ranks with the help of his language skills.
"It's great to be able to be the conduit for those in need and to be able to provide a service to others,” said Rosario.
Rosario is one of MPD's certified Spanish-speaking officers and often works as a translator when officers need to communicate, but can't because of a language barrier.
Now, Rosario thinks back to the beginning and reflects on how his culture has helped him protect and serve.
"It’s helped my career tremendously and I hope that it’s had a positive impact for the police department and a positive impact for the city,” said Rosario.
Learn more about National Hispanic Heritage Month from our partners at La Prensa Latina.
Hispanic Heritage Month runs through Oct. 15.