Fulfilling dream, man becomes LAPD rookie at age 45 after earning US citizenship

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Saturday, July 2, 2022
Man graduates LAPD academy at 45 after becoming US citizen
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At age 45, Miguel Camarena is one of the Los Angeles Police Academy's oldest graduates on record. He says he wants others to know you're never too old to pursue your dreams.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Forty-two men and women graduated from the Los Angeles Police Academy Friday. The diverse class included people from almost every continent, including Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.

The class also included one of the oldest graduates on record: 45-year-old Miguel Camarena.

"It wasn't easy; it was hard. I had tough times," said Camarena after the ceremony at the Elysian Park Academy. "One of the things that prevented me from doing it (earlier) is I didn't have my citizenship until a couple years ago."

The 45-year-old graduate's wife said for a long time she didn't even know her husband dreamed of becoming a police officer. But Veronica Camarena said it quickly became clear when their daughter joined the Reseda police academy magnet program several years ago.

"We were actually at the table talking at family dinner, because that's when we talk about our day, and that came up," said Veronica. "It was a shock, and he couldn't have done it before because he wasn't a citizen, and when he became a citizen, that actual day he started finding out about it."

Miguel worked at a cellphone repair store for nine years before gaining citizenship.

"He actually raised my daughter while working his own shop," laughed Veronica. "The day she was born he was holding her in one hand and fixing cellphones in another."

The LAPD said the 42 graduating officers completed 912 hours of training over the span of 24 weeks.

"I feel amazing. I feel very honored to wear this uniform," said Miguel Camarena. "We want to help our community, but for me I also want to be a motivation for my kids, and for Hispanic people as well to let them know you're never too old to pursue your dreams."

Editor's note: This was originally published on July 1, 2022.