SAN ANTONIO -- In a predominantly Hispanic community, our San Antonio police officers are more of an international mix. It seems more officers from different parts of the world are choosing San Antonio.
"The reaction between the people and police is a lot different than where I come from," said officer Gary Nel.
Gary Nel has been wearing his SAPD uniform for about a year. But as a police officer in his home country, wearing that uniform was a different experience.
"Anybody that wore a uniform was a target," he said.
Nel is from the small town of Richards Bay in South Africa. He spent most of his career dodging bullets. He found himself in San Antonio because of his wife, who's in the Air Force.
"I get called Australian, New Zealand, Irish," said Nel, recounting how people try to guess his home country.
Officer Monico Meneses also is far from home.
"I used to be a radio DJ and then migrated to the U.S.," he said.
He's from the Philippines, and his story is different, too. From humble beginnings, he served in the military.
"My father is a retired judge, and my brother is now a judge," Meneses said.
His decision to protect the innocent was more of a family affair.
"I wanted to tell daddy that I completed the pie," he said. "I strive a lot. I do want to show everybody that this short Filipino has a lot to offer."
He's been patrolling the streets of San Antonio for 12 years.
"It's pretty amazing that people that far away have chosen San Antonio to be a police officer," Chief William McManus said.
He takes pride in his diverse force.
"Diversity brings different perspectives to the department (and) the community," the chief said.
No matter how different each officer is, they all share one thing in common: their passion to protect the people of San Antonio.