GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Greenville Police Department Officer Alonzo Sales, Jr. is the perfect choice to be at the wheel for a ride-a-long.
He grew up in west Greenville, and much of his family still lives around Ladson Street. He spent days as a kid playing at the Juanita Butler Center.
“We would hear the streetlights coming on,” Sales said. “When they start to buzz, [it was] time to start back down the road.”
Sales graduated from Greenville High School and worked at BMW Manufacturing for five years. But then he decided he wanted to wear a badge.
“When I decided to become a police officer, my family was shocked but proud at the same time to see I didn’t fall into the stereotype, so to speak,” Sales said. “I wasn’t a product of my environment, I wanted to do something different.”
“He is exactly what the Greenville Police Department is looking for,” Police Chief J.H. Thompson said. “I need more Officer Sales to come and join us here.”
Sales knows he’s not like every other GPD officer.
“It’s a tough time to be a police officer. It’s even a tougher time to be a police officer when you look like myself,” Sales said. “When I wake up in the morning, I put my police uniform on. But before all of that, I’m Black first. Unfortunately, sometimes, I feel like I have a target on my back.”
“Not everybody likes cops. Not everybody likes people who look like me. But if you take the right approach to it… it can be changed,” he added.
Sales said he plans to join the Air Force Reserve to continue his work as a police officer.