WEST WILDWOOD ─ "I'm trying to make a difference in someone's life," Officer Darren Montes said quietly with a smile. On a chilly evening in West Wildwood, Montes shared some of his experiences and accomplishments as a police officer who uses his native language, Spanish, as a way to help "ease tension" between residents and law enforcement.
Born to Mexican parents, Montes says he has been "back and forth" in his early youth, his time spent in Cape May County and Mexico.
Montes' family owns a store in Wildwood. He graduated from Lower Cape May Regional High School in 2008.
Montes said his desire to become a police officer is entirely his own: "No one in my family has ever been one," he said. With a young family of his own, Montes says he wants to "make them proud" and begin a new tradition.
Montes' journey on the department began in 2010 as a Class I officer in North Wildwood, enforcing parking regulations, and later on the boardwalk.
Montes served in North Wildwood until his transfer to West Wildwood in 2014.
By using Spanish, Montes can translate for fellow officers and on behalf of those in need. Montes said speaking Spanish has assisted in cases that involved driving while intoxicated, domestic violence, and traffic stops.
Because Spanish is familiar to him, Montes' ability to translate has been requested by departments in North Wildwood, Wildwood, and Stone Harbor.
Montes recently read books in Spanish to students at Glenwood Elementary School.
When asked how he is viewed in the Hispanic community, Montes replied, "They see what I've become" and he has been told how proud the community is of his desire to serve and protect.
Described as "shy," Montes' dedication and purpose to serve West Wildwood stands out.
To contact Rachel Rogish, email firstname.lastname@example.org.