The day-to-day life of a police officer is unpredictable. There is no telling who he might meet, or what he might encounter while on patrol.
A big part of their job is putting bad guys behind bars. But community officers quickly learn that not everyone can be cleanly divided into “good” and “bad”.
Nick Carmona was well known to local officers after having found himself in the back of a patrol car at least a dozen times. After he was picked up for drug possession and theft charges again, he ran out of chances to avoid jail time.
Carmona was sentenced to serve 23 months in a Utah State Prison.
Nick Carmona had been arrested by Orem, Utah Police Sgt. Scott Spieth a dozen times. The last one landed him in state prison.
“It was just a time in my life when I was really struggling with my drug addiction,” Carmona said to KSL.
While he was locked away, he thought about the circumstances that led to his arrest. All signs pointed to an addiction that was out of control.
Carmona committed himself to sobriety, served his time, and according to his Facebook page, was released from prison in 2014. He then set out to thank those who’d never lost faith in his potential.
Officer Spieth was at the top of the list.
“He just kept telling me, ‘I’m better than that,'” Carmona recalled of Spieth. He wrote him a letter, thanking him for believing in him.
The letter congratulated the officer for being promoted to Sergeant, and gave Carmona a chance to take full responsibility for his arrest.
“I am not a victim of bad circumstance,” he writes in his letter. “I need to take accountability for my actions.”
The two agreed to meet in the very place that Speith put him in cuffs all those years ago. It was simultaneously the lowest point, and the turning point, of Carmona’s life.
For Carmona, it was the first time he’d seen a squad car pull up without fear of getting put in handcuffs. For Speith, it was a chance to see visual evidence that he’d made a difference in his community.
“I mean, it’s not every day in law enforcement that we get a letter from someone, you know — especially someone who’s in prison,” Spieth said to Carmona. “To see where you’re at now, man — it does me good.”
Carmona now lives the life of a free man. He is winning his battle against drug addiction, and hopes to be an inspiration to others.
“It’s possible for people to be down in the gutter, or sleeping in a jail cell, and come out and be productive,” Carmona said.
He practices what he preaches, having worked as a student life mentor, and at a recovery center since his release from prison.
If there is one message he wants to make clear, it’s that the past doesn’t define the future. Everything is a lesson, and what you learn from your experiences will determine the course of your life.
“You can overcome and be who you want to be,” he said.