Officer Brickell Works to Protect and Serve in San Rafael

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Officer Brickell Works to Protect and Serve in San Rafael

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6’6’’. Cannons for arms. A complete tank. These were the first things I noticed upon meeting Officer Zachary Brickell. As a man who had dedicated his life to serving and protecting the people of San Rafael, Officer Brickell was exactly the kind of guy I wanted protecting the city.

Brickell was born and raised in San Diego and then moved to Reno, Nevada to attend the University of Nevada and play Division 1 football. After a successful four years representing the Nevada Wolf Pack football team, Brickell began working with career advisors to find inspiration for a job after college. After exploring many options that would allow him to pursue his interest in criminal justice, Brickell discovered that he was meant for law enforcement.

Back home in the Bay Area with his wife, the process of completing the grueling hours of police training began. In order to become an officer, Brickell attended Police Academy in Concord for six months. For 10 hours a day, Brickell was repeatedly trained and tested on his abilities to drive, use a firearm, and utilize a taser. After Brickell had passed the necessary tests and graduated from the academy, he shadowed a police officer in Concord for nearly five months. Because of his incredible physical and mental strength, Brickell was promoted and eventually granted more opportunities to work in the field.

“In the beginning I was only allowed to handle small calls, which may include showing up to a grocery store where a water bottle has been stolen and there was no chance for conflict…by the end of training I was expected to be able to handle calls where there was an active conflict on the scene.”

As a patrol officer, Brickell works 3-5 times a week for 12-hour shifts. According to Brickell, the hours are exhausting and make it hard to spend time with his family. However, Brickell knows that the satisfaction he gets from helping people outweighs the long hours.

“Sometimes I show up to a scene where the people are completely helpless, and when I am able to improve the situation, that feels really good knowing that I was able to help,” explained Brickell.

While he is patrolling, Brickell is responsible for the Canal District of the city and is required to be the first responder when the police dispatch receives a 9-1-1 call. When he is not responding to a call, however, Brickell has the opportunity to choose what he wants to patrol. His interests? Finding meth on the streets of San Rafael.

“Methamphetamine is really popular in San Rafael…and so that’s what I’ll use my patrol time on. When you’re not handling calls it’s good to stay proactive,” said Brickell.

Brickell expanded on this and explained that one difficult part of his job is catching people with drugs. This is not because he does not know who or where people are in possession of drugs, but because he is not legally allowed to search someone without their consent or a warrant. He explained one way he can easily catch people with illegal substances is that he can legally search those who are on parole or probation. In addition, Brickell can also ask people if he can search the belongings and most agree even if they have illegal substances simply because he is a police officer. When Brickell first began his job as a Police Officer, he was surprised at the amount of people who did not know or exercise their basic rights.

Later on in the interview, Brickell started to relate himself to the national debate on police officers and whether or not they are using more force than necessary to do their jobs. As Brickell began to speak on the subject, I could see that although he was only talking to one eighteen-year-old boy, he became nervous. This was clearly a difficult topic for him to talk about as he stuttered a few times trying to find the right way to explain his perspective. Brickell made his perspective clear and agreed that the attacks made by police officers on individuals were wrong and unjustified, however, he did not blame any police department or the police as a whole for this issue.

“Every job you look at, not everyone will be perfect. I can’t speak for every police officer in the United States, but I think what’s been happening recently is that because of the actions of a few, a lot of people think all cops are bad and trying to hurt people, while the reality is less than 1% of cops ever use their guns.”

Brickell does wish to keep working as a cop in San Rafael; however, he dreams that one day he can become a K9 officer and work with a dog in order to help him find more drugs on the streets on San Rafael. As Brickell talked about the subject, his eyes began to light up and he began to smile. It was clear to me that he has a passion for animals and using them to make the city a better place.  

“A K9 officer works with a German Shepard for the whole dog’s career. We train our dogs to sniff narcotics on the streets and they are also trained in apprehension, which is biting people in order to hold them down until a cop has caught up with the criminal and can arrest him.”

Brickell offered to show me his police car and I was able to see all of the things officers can use. In this time I was able to really understand Brickell when he referred to the non-lethal shotgun and said, “Although all of this stuff is cool, I really don’t like to or want to ever use it.” All in all, I could tell that Brickell’s aspirations as a police officer are simply to protect the people of San Rafael and make it a safer place.