Some kids know what they want to be when they grow up when they’re still in the single digits. Others figure it out a bit later—and find themselves on Live PD.
Sgt. John Curley is one of the latter. Through his career, he has worn quite a few hats: With a degree in sports management from Johnson and Wales University, he worked in financial services after college and even had a stint playing semiprofessional hockey. But it wasn’t until he went on a ride-along with a friend in Providence, Rhode Island that he found his true calling.
“I didn’t really know what the whole job entailed, other than the stuff you see on TV,” he says of his first time observing police officers during their shift. He soon found out, and he never looked back. Now Sgt. Curley is in his eighth year serving in the Warwick Police Department.
A&E True Crime spoke to Curley about intense situations at work, the best thing about his job and how he’s doing in his newest role—as a dad.
Has being on Live PD had any impact on your department?
Sometimes I think it opens people’s eyes a lot, [showing viewers] how people talk to us or how people treat us. They don’t typically get exposed to that unless it’s something on the news or they’re directly involved in it. I think it’s given our community, as well as other people in Rhode Island, more of an appreciation for what everyone in this state does, law enforcement-wise. It’s been a good thing.
What’s been your most intense situation documented on Live PD?
I would have to say the DUI car chase. Car chases in general are very intense and then it ended in a foot pursuit, which is also intense.
With car chases, sometimes you can’t control whether or not it’s going to be terminated or end in a crash. But when there’s a foot chase, that’s between you and somebody else; may the best person win.
What’s been the funniest situation captured on camera?
[It was] probably the first weekend. We arrested a woman and she ended up spitting, then [said] the famous quote, ‘Boston, bitch,’ which really painted a nice picture.
Then there was another one where a woman told me to shut my ass, and I don’t really know what that means. [Laughs.]
What’s the best thing about your job?
Interacting with kids—when they’re positive and when they’re excited to see you. And obviously it is nice when you get to help somebody who’s in need. And on the flip side, it’s also nice taking somebody off the street who shouldn’t be on the street, because they’re a detriment to everyone you know and care about, and the world’s a better place if they’re not running around.
What is the hardest thing about your job?
Keeping your patience with some people. You can only sit there and try to ask people to do what you need them to do so many times until you have to decide, OK. Obviously asking them isn’t working out. I’ve asked them four times and they’re not going to do it. Now I have to make the determination of whether to go hands-on with this person, which could ultimately end up elevating and now it’s a full-blown fight. The hardest thing is de-escalation.
Are there any community issues unique to the Warwick community, that the show has been there to document?
I can’t pinpoint one specific thing, but I would say it’s like anywhere as far as the opiate issue. That’s definitely a concern. I think there’s been a couple instances that have been on the show with that, but I don’t think it’s really been too exposed.
What do you do in your free time?
I love to work out. I don’t really consider that a hobby—I just consider that a lifestyle. I love golf and I love hockey. I just recently got into golf in the last couple years. I love to read, too. I do that when I get home every night, just to shut my brain down a little bit.
What do you like to read?
I like a lot of history. I like sports and biographies—pretty much all nonfiction.
You have a new baby—congratulations! What kind of change has it been to become a parent?
It’s been a significant change, in a good way. My first night back to work, I remember driving and [thinking], If something happens to me, it’s not about me anymore. There’s someone else who depends on me. You need to make sure nothing happens to you and you come home in one piece every night, because if you don’t there’s someone else who’s greatly affected by that. That was pretty eye-opening. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize it, but that’s when it hit me, Oh my God. I really need to be careful. I’m very careful in what I do but it just hit home a little bit more for me.
How does daddy duty compare to police work?
I can definitely foresee that when the time comes, it’s going to be a lot like dealing with people on the road. Because a lot of times, as sad as it sounds, you’re dealing with people who act their shoe size instead of their age.