Mentor Spotlight – Officer Massie
For Officer Joe Massie, handling radio calls and working the streets were a constant reminder of how many problems the police cannot solve.
He used to get frustrated that he could not straighten out problems that took years to develop within the duration of a preliminary investigation. He’d hear the complaints, do his best, and then head back to the patrol car and shake his head.
“You see these stories where the family’s just all messed up,” said Massie, now a five-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department currently assigned to West Traffic Division as a Collision Investigator. “The boy needs a father. The girl needs a mother. They just need someone to push them in the right direction.”
Operation Progress, he realized, is that push. After hearing his friend, OP board member Kevin James, discuss the program for several years, Massie decided he needed to get involved. He became a mentor in 2015, one of the first officers assigned outside South Los Angeles to volunteer their time to help the children of Watts.
Assigned to a cheerful, studious young man named Chris Collins, Massie has watched Chris mature into a devoted history student as a freshman at Verbum Dei. He checks in with Chris whenever possible and tries to sit down with him at least once a week.
“I’ve learned to sit there and just listen to him,” Massie said. “I’ve learned a lot about patience, how to talk to kids and how to relate to them.”
He introduced Chris to improvisational acting and discussed the finer points of the “Star Wars” universe with him. Volunteering, he said, may be a huge investment of time, but one that he believes will pay dividends far down the road.
“It’s a big commitment, but the important thing is that you’re doing something for somebody else,” Massie said. “Maybe us spending two hours a week with a kid now prevents an armed robbery in 10 years. I know Chris will stay on the right path—I’m not worried about him. But maybe his friends see his example and they follow it. Maybe he changes someone else’s mind.”