Coworkers tell Federal Reserve Police Officer Roosevelt (Ron) Carolina that he ought to be on the radio, dishing out advice on love, marriage, and self-care. But if he did, listeners would miss out on Carolina’s expressive face. The brow that furrows when he asks about your exercise routine. The smile that flashes before his laugh booms.
The 5′ 10″ officer looks like the last person you’d turn to for a talk about something as squishy as affairs of the heart. But the caring side of his personality frequently comes into play at the Fed and twice a week at his night job patrolling a San Francisco Bayview neighborhood.
“I talk to a lot of African American young boys, and I get a chance to truly mentor from the street level. Those connections last a lifetime,” he says.
After working in the same neighborhood for the past nine years, Carolina now gets the chance to meet the young children of residents who were teens themselves when he first met them.
When duty calls, Carolina is every bit the tough guy he looks.
“I could be chasing gunfire at night, and in the morning you’ll see me bright eyed and bushy tailed, greeting my Fed family,” he says.
Both of his work environments keep Carolina’s skills sharp. He values the training he receives at the Fed on everything from arrest protocols to diversity and leadership. In the Bayview, most learning comes from experience. In 2009, for instance, Carolina and fellow officers saved the life of a shooting victim, apprehended the shooters, and recovered the weapons, earning a commendation from the city.
“It was a rush,” he acknowledges. As an armed security contractor, “you’re in the thick of it every day. You’re chasing a lot of calls and you depend on your partners a lot, to provide that service and save lives.”
It might seem like an exhausting routine, but Carolina shrugs off that thought. The way his shifts are structured keeps many days off free to spend with his wife and kids, or to do some cooking and cleaning at home.
Carolina grew up watching his father and grandfather with similar work ethics, and hard work was a constant theme in his life. He remembers his grandfather—who did not read or write—putting in a full day’s work in the heat, then coming home to plow his field in South Carolina. When his parents moved to the West Coast, their determination allowed Carolina and his four siblings to enjoy a middle-class life in Pacifica, CA, where they could see the Farallon Islands from their deck on a clear day.
“My pops worked two jobs: He worked for the US Mint and for the school district. He was a die setter—he fixed the machines that pressed the coins,” he explains.
In fact, Carolina has always been a “two-job guy.” He spent days in his early 30s providing security for Muni cash collectors. One day, the Muni van he was protecting passed the back of the San Francisco Fed, and he noticed officers. Within a year, that serendipitous encounter led to a series of interviews and a position as a Federal Reserve Law Enforcement Officer, a job that he loves for its various opportunities to serve.
Besides being involved in day-to-day security operations at the Fed, Carolina is a recruiter and a field training officer as needed.
Carolina is proud of the lives he’s saved and the service he’s provided. But of all his achievements, he’s proudest of his relationships, both at work and at home.
At work, he’s the guy who will lend a sympathetic ear or mentor a young person. At home, he’s enjoying his two grandkids and a lot of quality time with his wife of 25 years.
“We’re still relatively young, and we get to have fun,” says Carolina, now that his two sons are grown and out of the house and his daughter a young adult with her own income. “My household, it is just that loving. It’s real.”