BARSTOW Monty Franklin was working in the mortgage industry just a few years ago, but he knew he wanted something different.

So Franklin decided to quit his job and applied for a spot at Rio Hondo Police Academy in Whittier to pursue a career in law enforcement. He paid his tuition using his savings without knowing if he would find a job after he was done.

"I wasn't happy with doing (work in the mortgage industry)," said Franklin. "I wanted to distinguish myself that I'm on the 'good team.'"

Franklin did get a job working for the San Manuel Office of Public Safety, but he also worked as a reserve officer volunteering during his time off at the Barstow Police Department for six months in the hopes that a position would open up in the town that he lived in as a teenager.

Franklin got his wish when the department hired him at the end of October to fill the 37th of 38 positions.

"It was a foot in the door," said Franklin.

Franklin's field training officer, Corp. Jeremy Bledsoe, said that Franklin showed a lot of integrity by committing himself to law enforcement the way he did.

"I don't know a lot of people that would sacrifice and have integrity like that," said Bledsoe.

For Franklin, being a reserve officer is much different than being a full-time officer, because he used to always ride with a partner and now he'll be working alone. Reserve officers typically serve as extra "eyes and ears" for police officers, said Bledsoe.

"It's a lot more to think about and do than most people would imagine," said Franklin.

Franklin said his father was in the military and was based at Fort Irwin when Franklin was young. He moved with his family to Barstow when he was in eighth grade and attended Kennedy Junior High and Silver Valley High School. He attended Barstow Community College after graduating from Silver Valley.

Franklin has a fiancee and two young daughters, ages two and four.

Franklin said that all of the police officers and other staff have been welcoming so far.

"They really do go out of their way to make the transition easier on me," said Franklin. "They're good people, and that's good because it's a small department."

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kjonas@desertdispatch.com