After five years in the Marine Corps, followed by ten years in the Army, Corporal Mark Laureano began his life in law enforcement, in 2011. He spoke with A&E Real Crime about the less-than-traditional road he took to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department in South Carolina and falling in love with being a police officer.
What led to your career with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department?
I was stationed in Fort Jackson, in South Carolina, and after two combat deployments with the Army,] my momentum, physically, was coming to a screeching halt. I received guidance to take care of myself.
It was always a dream of mine to become a police officer. I inquired about the Sheriff’s Department and I saw the reserve program. It was a volunteer program, but once I graduated, I would have a very good idea of what law enforcement would be like. I got accepted into the program and it was the best decision I ever made. I fell in love with being a cop—so much so that I asked to get out of the Army for it.
How are serving in the military and working in law enforcement similar?
The main similarities are the attention to detail in every facet of what we do, whether it’s writing a report, talking to a citizen, talking about getting emergency services out to help people or coordinating other units to come to help out on scenes.
The main thing [for both] is never quit: You don’t quit on yourself; you don’t quit on your teammates; and you sure as heck don’t quit on a citizen who needs your help.
How do you think the show has affected the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the public’s perception of the department?
It’s not as much as you’d think. The Sheriff and the Sheriff’s Department have been so far ahead of the game, since before I even got there. I really think, from the bottom of my heart, the [community] already knew what they had [before ‘Live PD’], and now they see it. Now they really know it. Now they know who Laureano is, they know who Addy [Perez] is, they know who Garo Brown is. And we’re just five, 10 people out of 100.
What have you learned from watching other departments on the show?
What I’ve learned the most [are] different tools that I’ve added to my tool belt, [when it comes to] how different officers question people. There was one episode where an officer got into a vehicle pursuit, and the way he called out that pursuit on TV, I got goosebumps. He was so awesome, and so professional.
He painted a vivid picture: ‘We’re at number one lane, we’re doing 45 miles per hour. We’re now switching to number two lane, he failed to signal. Now he’s hitting the brakes. Now he’s going forward again; getting back to the number one lane, and failed to signal.’ Now I call pursuits that way.
What do you like to do in your spare time, when you’re not working?
First is spend time with my wife and my kids, especially my baby girl—seeing her grow, and watching her read and talk, and try to teach me things that she’s learning in school. I missed a lot of time during my military service, and I’ll never get that back, so anytime I get an opportunity to be off from work, I tend to spend it at home with family. I have a junior at the University of South Carolina—she’s 20—and I have a high school sophomore—she’s 15—and my 5-year-old is in kindergarten.
I also love riding my Harley. I get to immerse myself in the road and the music, and relax and unwind. A lot of people say I seem relaxed and real cool when I’m working, but inside, my heart’s pounding, I’m nervous, and I’m stressing out. My Harley opens it up for me.
And I like to crack jokes and say I like to feel the wind in my hair. [Laughs.]
Is there anything you’d like the Live PD Nation to know?
We are fortunate to have been selected by our bosses to represent our departments. But for Richland County, I want recognition to go to the team that you don’t see—a team that’s so awesome and so phenomenal.
Our dispatchers: We can’t do our jobs without them. They need to be recognized. Our investigation division: We have the largest number of volunteers; they dedicate their time for free to help our county run efficiently. Our lab personnel, and everybody who doesn’t get an opportunity to be seen, I want them to get that credit.