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The original item was published from 2/16/2021 2:56:13 PM to 2/16/2021 2:56:49 PM.

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Posted on: February 16, 2021

[ARCHIVED] Officer Cruz Follows in Father's Footsteps in New Role at HCPD

pictures of three officers in background. text "Police Department Employee Spotlight"

For Officer Edgardo Cruz Jr., he will be using his new role at the Haines City Police Department to carry on a family tradition.

The newest member of the department’s Traffic Unit, Officer Cruz will be following in his father’s footsteps. Edgardo Cruz Sr. is a sergeant with the Florida Highway Patrol. The elder Cruz is currently a pilot for FHP, but was previously in the motor unit, serving in Polk, Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.

Edgardo Cruz Jr. rides his agency motorcycle outside the Haines City Police Department. Like his father, the younger Cruz will spend much of his time on an agency motorcycle. His father rode a motorcycle for FHP when Cruz was just a child.

“The second I saw him on his bike, I was like ‘yeah, this is what I want to do’,” Officer Cruz said. “This is the dream come true. I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of things in my law enforcement career, but traffic was the reason I became a cop.”

Cruz has been with the Haines City Police Department for one year and has been in law enforcement since 2017 when he was sworn in as a member of the Winter Haven Police Department. In his law enforcement career, Cruz previously worked in patrol, field training and crime suppression.

Cruz completed the 84-year Basic Police Motorcycle Operators Course in February 2021. At the course, he received training on real-life scenarios such as traffic stops and lane changes. He’s now certified to ride on the road, in parades and in escorts for dignitaries, funerals and celebrities.

“It’s pretty rewarding,” he said. “I want to earn an instructor’s certificate. I want to continue to show proficiency. My goal is to continue honing my skills and becoming competition-ready.”

In August 2020, Cruz officially became a member of the Winter Haven chapter of Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club. The group is a nonprofit comprised of active and retired law enforcement officers who enjoy riding motorcycles. Founded in 1974, the organization has contributed nearly $19 million to various charities and causes.

Cruz said he wants to one day compete in the Police Motorcycle Rodeo in Daytona. According to Midwest Police Motorcycle Training, top motorcycle-riding law enforcement officers tend to rank in the top 2% of riders in the world.

“I want to keep going,” Cruz said. “I want to be the best at this. I want to be as proficient as possible to be as safe as possible on the road. I want to enforce out on the road, but I also want to educate.”

When it comes to his father, a 13-year veteran of FHP, Cruz isn’t the only son following in his footsteps. Cruz’s brother, Mikael, has taken an interest in flying as a graduate of Embry-Riddle University.

“We both took after him in different ways,” Cruz said. “He’s definitely proud. He’s always helped me remember the danger of this job, but that camaraderie and brotherhood of what we do carries over into our relationship as father and son.”

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