LEEP Award recipient changes career path to pursue his dream
— By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor
Justin Demo had just begun his accounting career when fate seemed to be pulling him in a different direction. He realized he enjoyed working as a Saginaw Valley State University Dispatcher more than accounting. So, he left his job and entered the Macomb Police Academy to pursue his dream.
“I thought I’d just do something safer when I was at college,” Demo said of his career path. “I never had a chance to do an (accounting) internship. I gave that a try for nine months and I figured now is as good a time as any to give (law enforcement) a shot. I had really grown to like what I was doing at Saginaw. I never got bored with it. I got engaged with it. It was just really interesting.”
Demo, who had a 3.5 GPA when he graduated with an accounting and management bachelor’s degree, was a National Honor Society graduate of Almont High School with a 3.75 GPA. He finished the academy as one of the top achievers, earning him a $2,000 Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP) Award.
The 23-year-old was one of 17 non-sponsored cadets paying their way through the academy in a class of 31, which, along with his stellar performance, made him eligible to receive the LEEP Award during the May 15 graduation ceremony. “Overall, he’s done extremely well. He was always first to step up,” said Macomb Police Academy Director Raymund Macksoud. “He gets along well with his classmates, was above average in academics, and a very low maintenance cadet. He definitely deserves me recommending him for the award.”
“It just really helps me recuperate some money and have the ability to move to a department and have moving expenses already covered,” Demo said of the LEEP Award.
Demo was exposed to law enforcement at a young age. He remembers his grandfather, Charles Demo, speaking fondly of his work as a Police Lieutenant for the City of Warren. “He just always told me stories about work and how he was always doing cool things,” Justin Demo said. “He always seemed to like it and it was an honorable thing to him.”
Fast forward to college. Demo needed tuition money and took a student employment job as a Saginaw Valley State Dispatcher for 3-1/2 years. He also trained and became a Student Service Officer, helping campus Officers patrol, writing parking tickets, and assisting with traffic at football games.
“He worked his way through school,” Macksoud said. “He decided he wouldn’t be happy until he’d tried law enforcement. He’s embraced the training and soaked up all the knowledge in academy. He’s gone above and beyond what a standard cadet does in academy.”
“Becoming a Police Officer has always been something that I have wanted to do, but I only recently got the courage and determination to chase my dream,” Demo wrote in his scholarship application essay. “The main reason behind becoming a police officer is for me to have a fulfilling job that I will be proud to look back on. I also want to be a role model for kids and help them with their problems.”
“You’ve got to pursue that dream,” Macksoud said. “He made sure that’s what he wanted and made the change. I’m very pleased to present him as the candidate for (the LEEP Award).”
For those who are debating career options, Demo recommends getting some experience. “Maybe do ride alongs or get an internship. Don’t rule out an option because it’s not a high paying option,” Demo said. “Look at your dream and work from there. Just don’t discount things before you’ve actually tried it.”
Demo would like to eventually become a School Resource Officer and Honor Guard member. “I have always wanted to be a good role model for children and be present at the school so that their learning will not be distracted by the fear of a school shooting which seems to be rampant these days,” Demo wrote in his scholarship essay. “I would like to be a member of an Honor Guard as I see it as a sign of respect and courage to show up to funerals of officers and other important events.