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Ex-APD Captain Returns to Force as Rookie

By T.J. Wilham
Copyright © 2008 Albuquerque Journal
      When Rob DeBuck saw a police car on the side of the road, he had to fight the urge to turn his vehicle around and help.
    When people entered the bookstore where he worked, he'd give them the once over to make sure they weren't going to steal anything.
    And each night when he went to sleep, he dreamed about being a cop again.
    “I lost my sense of identity … of who I was,” the 50-year-old DeBuck said. “I felt empty inside.”
    DeBuck had retired in 2006 after 20 years on the Albuquerque Police Department. When he left, he was a captain and the fifth-highest ranking officer in the department.
    Now, he's a rookie.
    “I thought I could walk away from it without a problem, but I couldn't,” DeBuck said. “I missed the adrenaline rush. I missed having people around me who would give their lives for me.”
    DeBuck reapplied a few months ago and was accepted into APD's rehire program. He is the highest- ranking officer ever to come back full time. Some fellow rookies were not even born when DeBuck became a cop the first time.
    The past several weeks DeBuck has gone through the academy again and on-the-job training. He was surrounded by officers who used to call him “sir.”
    “He is a legend around here. Everyone knows who he is, even the young guys,” said Kerry Kendrick, who was DeBuck's training officer for four weeks. “To say that training him was unusual for me is an understatement.”
    DeBuck said he retired because he was tired of being a captain and in charge of so many officers. He said he had trouble sleeping at night, worrying about what was or wasn't getting done.
    Most years, he was in charge of APD's Valley and Southeast area commands, where he earned a reputation as an aggressive leader who tried new crime fighting methods.
    At times controversial, DeBuck approached crime like he was at war. In doing so, he became popular among the rank and file and was rumored at times to be in line for the police chief's job.
    Now, his demeanor has changed.
    Instead of the tough cop ready to take on the world, DeBuck comes across as officer friendly, greeting most people with a handshake and a hug.
    When DeBuck retired, he planned to work as a technical adviser for film and television projects. He worked on FOX's “Terminator: The Sara Connor Chronicles” and USA Network's “In Plain Sight.”
    But business wasn't steady, and he quickly got bored.
    He next spent three months stocking shelves at a Border's bookstore making less than $8 an hour. Owners told him that, while he was there, shoplifting decreased because he kept an eye on “suspicious” people.
    He also worked as a personal trainer for Defined Fitness.
    His first day back on the police force, DeBuck kicked down a door and helped defuse a family fight in which a man was holding a baby.
    DeBuck is still undergoing training.
    Once finished, he will be assigned as a school resource officer at Highland High School, his alma mater.
    “I feel like a young cop again,” he said. “This time, I'm here until they get rid of me.”