Montrose Patrol Profiles: Officer Leon Laureano
When Leon Laureano was growing up in Houston’s predominantly Hispanic Northside area, he remembers his friends and neighbors frequently warning him against trusting the police. “I could never understand why it was that way,” Lareano said. “I kept asking myself, why shouldn’t I trust the police? What did they ever do to me? I got in trouble a few times, but I never had a bad interaction with a police officer—the ones I knew were always friendly to me.”
The best way to change how his neighborhood viewed the police, he ultimately decided, was to become a policeman himself. In 2007 he left his job as an auto mechanic and joined the Houston Police Department, where he’s been ever since. “People don’t hate police officers personally, they just hate the uniform,” he observed. “And that’s because sometimes in our job we have to put people in jail, and people don’t like going to jail. Their families don’t like them going to jail. But sometimes that needs to happen.”
Laureano was assigned to the Montrose Storefront in 2010, where he worked until recently being assigned to the Heights area. He maintains his connection to Montrose by working part-time for the Montrose Patrol, a team of off-duty HPD officers hired by the Montrose Management District to provide extra security for the neighborhood.
Being bilingual often gives Laureano an advantage in his job. A few years ago he noticed a family waiting outside a homeless shelter and asked them if he could help. They were recent Cuban immigrants who had arrived in the U.S. in the middle of winter speaking no English. Laureano eventually helped raised enough money to put them up in a hotel for the weekend. After that, the father of one of his fellow officers invited them to stay with him until they found their own apartment.
“If we hadn’t done that, they would have been sleeping on the street that night,” he said. Being Hispanic also means that some people feel more comfortable talking to him about their problems than to other officers. “Because of my background, people can come up and talk to me,” he said. “I relate to them, rather than somebody that maybe grew up in the suburbs.”
Laureano shows his generosity in other ways as well. As a former mechanic, he likes to stop and help people whose cars have broken down or blown a tire, even though that isn’t an official part of a police officer’s job. “A lot of things we do as police officers is just help people in their communities.”
Although he used to live in Montrose, Laureano and his wife moved to a larger home in Tomball a few years ago to accommodate their growing family—they have two children, two and four years old. When asked what his hobbies are, he laughed. “My hobbies now are my kids,” he said. “I don’t have time for much else.”