Houston Police Department
Adapt, Improvise, Overcome
Published in the November/December 2012 issue of print Search & Employ®
Chad Curtis served in the Army before joining the Houston Police Department. He was a specialist, spending time as an airborne infantry paratrooper. At the HPD, he is a police officer assigned to the recruiting unit. Before taking that assignment, he served for eight years as a patrol officer at Southeast Command; was a field training officer instructor at Southeast Command; and spent three years in a divisional tactical unit at Northeast Command, working in joint narcotics, burglary, robbery, and motor vehicle sting/undercover operations that involved the DEA, the FBI, and ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, a part of the United States Department of Treasury).
In the recruiting unit, Curtis works recruiting events, interviews applicants, and conducts preliminary screening and background investigations. He also serves as the unit’s veterans’ representative and its Army PaYS Program point of contact, and he attends monthly gatherings of Warrior for Life.
Curtis said that his military career paved the way for his success at the HPD. “During my years in the Army, I learned motivation, dedication, flexibility, and responsibility,” Curtis said. “I feel it is for these reasons I was able to seek out employment in the civilian world – even though being in the infantry has no direct working experience that truly translates in the civilian sector, unless of course you want to be a peace officer.”
The physical nature of the Army also helped him prepare for a job on the force. “My experience in the infantry has helped me with the physical aspects, the proficiency of weapons, and the daily stressful situations as a peace officer for the Houston Police Department,” he said. “While in the Army, I had PT every morning and ran a minimum of two miles except on Fridays, which was double. I was physically fit and ready for the HPD Academy’s fitness standards. I had to be proficient with many weapons and meet numerous qualifications. Again, this helped me qualify in the HPD Academy as well as my annual qualification.”
Knowing the mission and being independent are also qualities that Curtis developed in the Army and which have paid off at the HPD. “As I moved through the ranks in the service, I was given more responsibility and was taught that even though your lieutenant may be the platoon leader, each person should know the mission at hand and should be capable of carrying out the mission should something happen,” he said. “As a peace officer, you are the leader and the go-to person on each and every call for service you run. Citizens look to you for help, guidance, protection, and problem-solving assistance.”
Curtis still keeps a motto from his Army days as motivation in his current role. “In the Army, there was a saying: you should be able to adapt, improvise, and overcome everything you do in life,” Curtis said. “This was a saying that I never forgot and always use. When life gets tough and I find myself in a slump, I always remember to adapt, improvise, and overcome.”
He said that servicemembers should think about their post-military plans long before they leave the service. “Before leaving the military, have a plan in place – know what kind of career you want to do and ensure you have the education and skills that are needed for that specific job,” Curtis said. “If you do not possess the needed qualifications, work on them while you are still in the military.
“The military supports education, so take advantage of these resources. My suggestion for those who are or were in the infantry – or have a similar MOS – would be to obtain a two-year or four-year degree, so when it is time for you to ETS/EAS, you will be more prepared and have additional qualifications to place on your resume. I believe this will make you more marketable in the civilian world.
“Take the time to research companies, and apply to the ones that interest you prior to your ETS/EAS. Finally, save your days and take terminal leave so you can continue to earn a paycheck while securing your next career.”