Harriet Samad: Ten Years of Work Without a Paycheck and Why She Does it
Harriet Samad has seen a lot in the past 10 years. She’s worked in over five departments, helped train newcomers, talked to hundreds of people, logged in nearly 3,000 hours and ushered in the digital era.
She remembers when the office work was done on paper and the cars had metal parts. She’s trained and been a trainer, and she’s helped countless citizens understand their options in times of hardship and despair.
And after all of that, she never once asked for a paycheck.
Samad is one of the San Angelo Police Department’s longest-running volunteer, and as long as she can still walk and talk, she doesn’t plan on quitting anytime soon.
“[I’ll do it] as long as I’m physically able to drive there and go up to the second floor and work there, and drive the patrol car,” she says, adding that she loves the work she does for the police and for the community.
When she was just starting out, Samad took a job as a Store Detective for a local retailer, where spent her time sprinting after the bad guys and apprehending shoplifters. Through the work, she was in regular contact with the Police as she often had to pick up evidence at the station.
“I started talking to a—at the time I thought—older gentleman, and I’m sure he wasn’t a day older than I am right now. I asked him what he did with the evidence there, and he said, ‘Oh, I’m a volunteer with the Police Department.’ I just said, ‘I’d like to do that one day, and sure enough,’ I did,” Samad explains.
Samad worked as a Store Detective for seven years, before deciding it was time to switch avenues and try something different. “I wasn’t as brave at 44-years-old as I was at 37 as far as tackling the shoplifters,” she says with a laugh, “it was getting a bit dangerous.”
One of her duties as a Store Detective had been to take bad checks to the credit bureau, so when she began looking for a new job, she asked a contact there and got the job.
“She said she hired me because I was moldable,” Samad laughs again, but apparently she had been molded to fit quite well into the position, because she kept it for a number of years.
After the credit bureau, Samad opened the Consumer Credit Counseling Service, a part of the National Foundation for Consumer Credit, where she worked for 13 years helping people get out of debt. At the end of this time, she retired, and she and her late husband went together to the Citizen’s Police Academy in 2002 and graduated in 2003.
“I was doing what is called PR calling,” says Samad of her first post in the Criminal Investigations Division. “I was calling people that were victims of primarily house or car burglaries, where there’s no offender.” In this position, she sought additional information from victims that might help solve the case.
“Now, I call victims of family violence, harassment, some burglaries if there’s an offender known, and I explain to these people how to file charges. That’s my primary job in Criminal Investigations,” she says.
Samad volunteers Tuesdays and Fridays in Criminal Investigations and on Wednesdays patrols city parking lots with another sworn-in and badged volunteer officer on the lookout for people parking in handicapped spaces without authorization.
Surprisingly, the parking lot patrol isn’t thankless. “We get a lot of people that come up and thank us for doing what we do,” Samad says. “Some of them are disabled…others don’t appear to be disabled that are appreciative of that,” she says.
Through her work in Criminal Investigations, Samad hopes to relay a positive message to the public. “In the telephone calls, I meet a lot of interesting people. I think they feel that I’m helping them and that the police station cares what happens to them.”
Harriet Samad started as an SAPD volunteer 10 years ago this month, in November 2003. She describes the officers and administration as an extension of family, and says she feels incredibly welcome and comfortable in her position.
Numerous Police Officers and coworkers of Harriet Samad’s wished to recognize her for her outstanding service, great attitude and continued friendship and loyalty over the years.
‘As long as she still wants it, a position will always be open for her.’
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