by Laura Bednar
Seeing a police officer in the halls of Saint Ignatius High School doesn’t mean there is trouble, because to the students, it’s just Officer Freddy.
Freddy Diaz has been the School Resource Officer since 2015, interacting with the young men of Saint Ignatius and building trust through community activities.
“I stay visible, so it’s not just an officer showing up when they have a problem,” Diaz says.
When he isn’t offering students a fist bump in the hallway, he is playing in their pickup basketball game or singing karaoke in the dining hall. “I learn to have fun with myself,” says Diaz.
His previous work with the Cleveland Police Department spanned several districts and included the gang impact unit, financial crimes unit, and general policing in the downtown bar areas. Diaz got involved in law enforcement after four years of working irregular shifts for the Cleveland EMS.
“I jumped in and didn’t think twice,” he says.
After a rounded experience, Diaz settled into the community relations unit of the Cleveland Police Department where he has been for three years. He explains that current events have caused tension between law enforcement and the community, and his job is to repair the relationship. He connects with others through sports, planting flowers, or passing out ice cream at community events.
“The final goal is to show the human side of law enforcement,” Diaz says.
In addition, Diaz held an executive position with the Hispanic Officers Association for almost 10 years. He explains that the association and community relations are one in the same. He assists in cases with a language barrier and connects with both Hispanic and non-Hispanic community members during the annual Puerto Rican parade festival held in August.
His methods for community policing overlap with his efforts as a school resource officer. Vice President Operations and Chief Financial Officer Richard Klingshirn ’75 says Diaz’s background and natural knack for engagement led to his hiring in 2015.
“He’s earned the respect of the students by being a regular guy,” says Klingshirn.
He adds that Diaz’s presence gives students the opportunity to really know a police officer firsthand.
Klingshirn says, “He enhances the image of who police are and what they’re here to do.”
Diaz says he understand the students are still teens and need to be met at their level. As a father to two young Saint Ignatius alumni, he understands teenagers. His older son Isaac is a 2019 graduate, while his younger son Emmanuel graduated in 2021.
“As a father I saw how my boys were formed into Men for Others,” Diaz says. “The school formed my boys, but it also formed me into a better man, father, husband and police officer.”