Alumni Stories

Omar Diaz

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Name: Omar Diaz ‘05
Major: History Minor: Education
Current Job Title: Unit Head, Lieutenant
Employer: City of Newark

Tell us a bit about your life and career since graduation. How did you get your first job? How did you navigate to where you are now? Where do you live?
I have been working since the age of ten. I started bagging groceries at a local supermarket and have worked ever since then. I never thought about law enforcement or becoming a cop before, but my brother encouraged me to take the civil service test.  I did exceptionally well and while I was still a freshman attending Rutgers, New Brunswick, I landed my first "real" job, as a Corrections Officer at Northern State Prison. I knew I had to finish my degree and decided to go back to school part-time when I transferred over to the Newark Police Department. It took me six years, but I finally graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in 2005. Shortly after graduating, I decided to put more focus on my professional career. I studied hard and was promoted to Sergeant in 2007 and then to Lieutenant in 2013. Most of my career in the police department has been in the Patrol Operations Division as well as two years assigned to the Prisoner Processing Division as a Lieutenant. In 2015, I was selected to lead a task force in one of New Jersey’s Fusion Centers in the Northern region of NJ, the Real Time Crime Center. My responsibilities include providing real time intelligence and situational awareness, through the use of robust technology and access to multiple federal, state, county, and municipal databases, in the Northern region of New Jersey. We aggregate information from open and classified sources, analyze the information, and provide an informational product that will serve public safety and private interests with actionable intelligence. I currently live in Belleville, New Jersey.

Why did you choose your major and minor?
I chose history as my major because I was always watching the History channel! Ever since high school, I was fascinated by stories of the past and how they shape the world we live in today. Since I was already in law enforcement, I wanted to go into teaching as a second career and obtained my education certificate to teach in high school. I wanted to pass on my positive experiences and love of history to another generation of students.

How would you describe your greatest personal or professional accomplishment since graduating from Rutgers?
I would have to say that my greatest personal and professional accomplishment was to graduate with a Master’s degree from Rutgers University. I went back to school 10 years after I graduated with my bachelor’s degree. I was extremely anxious and nervous of my decision. I was not encouraged by friends or even close family members. They believed there was no point because of my established career. Indeed, I would not benefit professionally in terms of a different assignment or a pay raise, however I did it for personal reasons. I believe advancing my education will undoubtedly help me in my current assignment and any future endeavors I may have.

How has your arts and sciences education at Rutgers benefited you? Is there a particular course, professor, or experience that was most meaningful? Please describe.
I believe having my bachelor’s degree has helped me become a better writer and helped me analyze information in better and different ways.

What advice can you offer to School of Arts and Sciences undergraduates about how to successfully connect their education in arts and sciences to their lives and careers after college? Do what you love, because you will be doing it for a very long time. The police department is unique because of the different jobs that you could do based on your assignment. Unfortunately, throughout my career, I have had undesirable assignments or ones that I didn’t care for. However, I made the best of the situation and made it work for me. If you do not like what you are doing, it will eventually affect your health and your inter-personal relationships.