Volunteer duo on the side of the good guys

first_img “It’s fun to be there,” he said. “They’re a bunch of nice guys. They help each other out as partners and take care of each other.” The two have been friends for years. Both graduated from Moorpark High School in 2003 and take classes at Moorpark College. They work at the police station as part of a training program through the Moorpark Unified School District that helps students with disabilities. Police Chief Dick Diaz, whose 39-year-old daughter has Down syndrome, said working with the two is a breath of fresh air, but most important, has taught deputies to be more sensitive around people who are different. “As I go through life with my daughter, you see how people are nervous and uncomfortable around her. I catch people staring at her,” he said. “Around here, people started to become real comfortable. They’re part of us. Everybody has kind of changed a little bit by having the boys here.” Tim Harrington said his son has always wanted to be a police officer. Sometimes, he gets the chance. During one of their chocolate-shake outings, Diaz nabbed a suspect coming out of Kohl’s with stolen merchandise. “I got out of the car and chased him,” the chief said. “I kept (Munz and Harrington) at a distance. They got real excited. They really like police work.” On Wednesdays, Brandon Harrington dons his volunteer jacket and police hat, proud to be affiliated with the police force. “He knows he’s got a job to do,” his father said. “For him, it’s a rush. Some days he’ll get home and say, `Dad, today we got some bad guys.”‘ When the officers moved out of temporary quarters and into a new building recently, Munz and Harrington were there to help. During special events, like Fourth of July, they’ve assisted with traffic control. “They can’t do without him and he can’t do without them,” said Hoppy’s father, Harold Munz. “The guys all know him. If we drive by the streets, he’ll stick his head out and yell out and call their names.” Over the years, the families have become close to the police force and are once again planning their annual holiday luncheon for the officers Dec. 14. Munz and Harrington will also appear in a group photo with the officers, which will hang on the station wall. Debbie Munz said her son looks up to the officers. “He just likes being involved. I’m very proud of him,” she said. “They make them feel special and important.” Angie Valencia-Martinez, (805) 583-7604 angie.valencia@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals The job makes them feel valued and accepted. For the deputies, it’s a break from their everyday routine and a lesson in acceptance. “For them, it’s a big deal,” Sgt. Craig Smith said. “They listen to the radio, and when the traffic officer makes a stop for a traffic violation, they feel everyone should stop working and run out there.” Everybody knows when the two men are on the clock because they always stop by and say hello, often striking up conversations about what it’s like to be an officer. “They’re eager and passionate about their work,” Smith said. “They love what they do. It’s exciting for them to be around the police officers.” Munz, who has mild mental retardation, said he enjoys hanging out and talking with the officers and “working on cases.” MOORPARK – Every Wednesday, two developmentally disabled best friends shred documents for the Moorpark Police Department, go out for milkshakes with the city’s police chief and occasionally play cops and robbers. Inside the police station, Hoppy Munz and Brandon Harrington, both 21, find a sense of normalcy, where everyone is treated equal. “I like working with the guys,” said Harrington, who has Down syndrome. “They make me feel like one of the boys.” For the past three years, the men have volunteered at the local police station, taking out trash, straightening offices and doing other odds and ends. last_img

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