ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque man said he took the police department up on its offer to help better the community, becoming the city’s newest and oldest police service aide.
Ken Vernon, 53, is proving that you are never too old to take on a new challenge, even one that is demanding and dangerous.
Vernon is an Albuquerque native. He owned Kenco Plumbing & Heating for 32 years until he sold it.
“I just love teaching and I love helping people. I felt like I could do both here,” he said.
He’s an avid cyclist, proud father and former business owner turned police service aide (PSA).
The Albuquerque Police Department has nearly 30 PSA’s. They’re usually the first on scene to help assist with traffic control. They take reports, help collect evidence or in Vernon’s case, “Somebody to be compassionate and maybe give them a hug,” he said.
Albuquerque Police Department Sgt. Shawn Lockey said he was excited when he found out Vernon applied for the program.
“PSA’s that typically come through this can be anywhere from 18-21,” Sgt. Lockey said. “There are a lot of young adults so I thought it would be exciting to have someone more mature and someone with life experiences behind him.”
Vernon said it wasn’t until his son interned at the police academy that he got the itch to serve in a new capacity. He said his wife was all for it.
“This was her idea. She knows I have a lot of energy so we thought this would be a good way to let it out,” he said.
He admits he was often the butt of “old man jokes,” but says it was always in good fun.
“This program is top notch. They prepare you for so much,” he said. “It was very competitive and we had some good guys in our group.”
So fun that Vernon graduated top of his cadet class.
“I told him, between him and I, that he’d make a great police officer and unfortunately we can’t have that,” Sgt. Lockey said.
Only because Vernon said he’s not looking to be one, but has no plans to leave his PSA position anytime soon.
“As long as they would like me,” he said. “I’ll plan on being in shape enough to do it.”
Full time PSA’s make about $14.12 an hour. You must beat least 18 years old to apply and after two years you can apply to become a police officer.