Former Marine, Cuban Refugee On A Mission To Give Back
Publish Date 09/27/2023
Image of Officer Daniel Hernandez
Officer Daniel Hernandez was at his friend’s business in the Historic Northeast, enjoying a day off, when he met a man who should not have been in Kansas City.
The man should have been in Oklahoma, but he fell asleep on his bus and somehow ended up face-to-face with Hernandez. Working with a KCPD social worker, Hernandez helped the man get a bus ticket back to his family in Oklahoma. All in day’s work – an off day, even – for Hernandez who is assigned to the Community Action Network (CAN) Center.
Hernandez has long been resourceful. At 11, Hernandez relocated to Kansas City as a political refugee. He came with his mother, sister, and stepfather, who served six years in a Cuban prison for fighting communism.
At 11, Hernandez learned a new language in a new country with a new culture. He made it through high school, though without direction and guidance. What was available to him? He didn’t know.
“That’s the reason I do what I do,” Hernandez explained. “I like to mentor kids that are going through the same feeling of leaving high school and not knowing what they’ll do. A lot of us didn’t know what to ask. My friends turned out ok, but they didn’t know either.”
After high school, Hernandez could not resist the need to give back. For giving him and his family a home, Hernandez decided to serve his country, joining the Marines. He would fight in Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom. He would also form eternal bonds that he could see in policing.
“I missed being around my Marine brothers,” Hernandez said. “I knew KCPD would be kind of the same thing where I would be at home serving my country, my community, my city.”
As a CAN officer, Hernandez is particularly focused on strengthening community ties any way possible. He recently helped a couple find housing. His soft spot, however, are the teenagers he identifies with. They’re the ones facing issues he knew firsthand in the part of town he grew up in.
“I spoke to a kid who didn’t know what to do after high school,” Hernandez explained. “He’s already in the system. But he told me that if he knew what to do, he’d change. I want to give them options. I can do that putting on this uniform and serving my community.”
KCPD has police officer positions available. Apply here.