Courtesy of Madera Police Department
In a screen shot of a video, Madera Police detective John Rosel performs a breakdancing routine at the Bridge Store during National Night out in August.
John Rosel, a detective at the Madera Police Department, has managed to make a name for himself, not only by touching many lives locally through his work, but nationally due to a breakdancing video that shows him after being challenged to a dance battle.
“It all started at the Kids Camp at the John Wells building,” Rosel explains about his breakdancing. “Some of the kids wanted to go up and dance in front of the other campers so our lieutenant gave them some time to do that. Officer Brett Prieto wanted to get some of the officers to go on stage as well, but everyone sort of stepped back. My brother was the deejay for the event, so he called me out and told everyone that I knew how to breakdance. So I ended up dance battling with the kids and it was really fun.”
One day, Rosel and a group of fellow officers stopped the Bridge Store during National Night Out, when they were approached by some kids who asked them if they’d be willing to do the running man challenge, which was trending on the Internet at the time.
One of the kids in the group recognized Rosel from Kids Camp and challenged him to a dance battle. The kids recorded it and the video received more than 24,000 YouTube views.
Rosel’s reason for getting involved with the police department is one that is dear to his heart.
“When I was a little kid, my uncle was murdered,” he said. “It sparked my interest because I was very young at the time and my parents didn’t want to tell me the details of what had transpired. It inspired me because it was something that happened to my family, so I wanted to know the details of my uncle’s case.”
As a result, Rosel directed his efforts to pursuing a career in law enforcement.
During college, Rosel worked at Pete’s Sport Shop selling guns and as a salesman on the floor. It was there that he met former Madera Police Chief Jerry Noblett, who had retired in 2002 and was working part time at Pete’s Sport Shop selling guns. The two immediately hit it off and Noblett became a mentor for Rosel.
“One day Jerry came up to me and said, ‘Hey, so what do you want to do career wise? I know you’re going back to school and trying to finish up,’” Rosel said. “I told him that I wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement, but was not exactly sure of what and I’d like to possibly become a detective. I had no older siblings to advise me or put me on a path, but Jerry did that for me. He advised me to go to the police academy, work patrol for a while and build myself up. He helped me get started and introduced me to people at the academy, helped me to get in touch with the department, do ride alongs, and meet some of the people that work patrol.”
Rosel got hired with the Madera Police Department the third time that he applied. Unfortunately Noblett passed away due to heart problems right before Rosel got the job.
“I was sad because I really wish he would have been able to see me get hired,” Rosel said.
Today, Rosel has achieved his childhood goal of becoming a detective.
“I feel that I have reached a goal of mine and I want to continue to excel in my career here,” Rosel said. “I feel very happy and blessed. This opportunity has allowed me to get more involved in the community and to be a face for the P.D. to go out and talk to people.”
Rosel shows his commitment to the community by participating in neighborhood watch meetings and helping out with Kids Camp programs. The police department is also currently working on a new program to help rescue and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking.
Rosel says his favorite things about the job are learning about other people and different cultures and having the opportunity to make an impact kid’s lives.
“A lot of times it doesn’t have be about going and making an arrest and taking them to jail,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of sitting down and talking to someone and giving them a reality check. I’ll tell them ‘Hey, you’re not a bad kid. I don’t think you’re a bad kid, but I do think you’re making bad choices.’ Helping them to see the light in that really does change people’s minds and directs them on a different path than what they’re on. For me, being able to make that one little change in somebody is great. It’s a lot of fun.”
One of the things that makes Rosel an effective mentor for at-risk youth in the community is that he can relate directly to their situation.
“A lot of the times, when I come into contact with somebody, especially from here, I kind of tell them my story,” he said. “I grew up in this town. I went to school at Martin Luther King Jr. High and walked down Clinton Street every day after school to go to my aunt’s house. So I guess you could say I grew up around the rougher side of town.
I had friends in that were involved in gangs. People I knew grew up and went to jail for gang involvement or drugs, but I was one of the ones that didn’t connect onto those people to where I had to have them in my life. Having to have them in my life would have led me to gangs or drugs or jail, whatever the case might have been. So I’m able to tell them, ‘Hey, I came from the same type of place you come from, I probably had the same type of education that you’ve had, but I’ve had an event in my life that inspired me to do something more.’
I had parents that pushed me to do something with my life. A lot of these kids don’t and that’s so important. But I think even if they don’t have that, a lot of times it just takes one person to tell them ‘You’re worth something, you have value to you’ Sometimes being able to hold onto those words while they go through life could inspire them to follow their dreams and keep reaching for something better.”
Rosel is grateful for the positive attitude residents hold toward the Madera Police Department, especially with the negative portrayal of law enforcement in the media at this time.
“I think we’re really lucky that our community looks at us in a positive way,” he said. “Our officers go out and make contact with the community and that has given a good positive image to the police department. I want us to continue to hold onto that positivity.”