Q & A: Sheriff Grant inspires Orangewood students, speaks from experience

By DEBBIE DIAZ

Photos by ALEXIS GARCIA

Officer Otis Grant, From the Riverside Sheriff’s Department, came to speak with students from Kimberly Lott’s classroom at Orangewood High School on Oct. 5. 

Officer Otis Grant from the Riverside Sheriff’s Department speaks to the Orangewood High School class of Kimberly Lott, Language Arts teacher, on Oct. 5, 2021. Photo courtesy of Alexis Garcia.

DEBBIE DIAZ: Okay, This is Officer Grant, Sheriff’s Department Riverside, right? Okay, and your first question, can you describe a very distressing situation in which you remained calm and collected?


OFFICER OTIS GRANT:  I’ll probably have to say, sometimes when you come across people with mental conditions, they don’t comprehend exactly what you’re trying to ask of them, so sometimes you have to slow things down and you have to really explain things to them thing to them, like you’re talking to a child. Sometimes you have to raise your voice at them to find a way to communicate with people; different people in different ways. Some people you have to be very calm and talk low too, and some people you gotta get into their head, you gotta find out what they’re thinking, and that’s why you have to just, you know, to get what we call compliance.

Officer Otis Grant from the Riverside Sheriff’s Department is interviewed by Orangewood High School senior and Ethic journalist, Debbie Diaz, on Oct. 5, 2021. Photo courtesy of Alexis Garcia.

DIAZ: Okay, and then you had said previously that you wanted to be a police officer since you were young — six years old. Did anyone influence you?

GRANT: So I grew up in San Bernardino, and I remember one day, my father and I were out in the backyard, and one of my father’s friend with a police officer, he came by the house. We were talking on the roadway and got a hot call and as we were talking, what they call a priority call comes out, and the police officer took off and he was running with his lights and sirens and everything. And at that moment, I remember thinking, “Wow, that’s what I wanna do with my life. I know it.” It just hit me right then and there, I knew what I wanted to do in my life, and that was my defining moment. It was weird because I said I was five, six years old at that time. And fast forward, maybe 20 something years down the road, I went on a ride along with the San Bernardino Police Department, and I come across this guy and he doesn’t recognize… Because I was a lot older then, and I introduced myself to him and he was like, “You’re little Otis.” And I was like, “Yeah.” And I said, “Do you remember that day that you met me and my dad out in the backyard?” 

He was like, “I do remember that day.” He was like, “You were a little guy.” And I said, “Did you know that that encounter was the reason why I’m here today?” And he shook my hand and he hugged me. He was like, “Are you saying I did that for you?” And I was like, “That’s what you did for me,” and I was like, “I can’t thank you enough.” And it was a very proud moment in his career, but I know he never thought that he would have or someone like that, and it was that I got to meet the person who really opened my eyes to law enforcement.

Officer Otis Grant from the Riverside Sheriff’s Department answers student questions after speaking to an English class at Orangewood High School on Oct. 5, 2021. Photo courtesy of Alexis Garcia.

DIAZ: Right. Oh, that’s beautiful. Okay, now we’re gonna switch up to tobacco industry. Okay, how do you think your has affected students today… What’s that? The tobacco industry, how do you think it has affected students today?

GRANT: The tobacco industry has, it’s hurting kids because you have kids using these vape pens, you have kids that are putting chemicals in their bodies that they don’t really… No one really knows exactly what’s in these things, and they’re making kids addicted. The kids are getting addicted to these things it’s messing with their mental health and that’s with them addicted physically.. You’re seeing he is… When I worked in Heritage High School, we were getting kids once or twice a day that we’re passing out or bring found unconscious, I should say, whether it be in classrooms, the bathrooms, the PE area, and we would ask them what was the last thing that you remember doing it was like, Oh, I was going to vape pen, and you’re taking something that was marijuana, and then you’re making into a chemical form… Well, no one knows what chemicals are being used to break down the THC level… The THC levels now, and I don’t really know what they are, but the THC levels now that they’re using in vape pens and marijuana these days are a lot higher than what it was in the 60s, in the 70s, and that’s what’s really affecting people.

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