Story by Matt Young. Photo of Officer Menendez with Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore by Hal Goodtree.
Cary, NC – I had the honor of spending some time with Jose A. “Tony” Menendez recently. Before Christmas, he was named the Town of Cary’s 2011 Employee of the Year.
Tony is a humble guy, who obviously isn’t looking to be in the limelight. He just wanted to serve his country and his town. That was obvious from our conversation.
I am always taken aback when people call me “sir”, especially when it should be the other way around.
Employee of the Year
Tony is a senior police officer and was chosen out of 25 nominees from the Town’s nearly 1,200 employees. The announcement was made at the Town’s Annual Employee Recognition Luncheon at the Herb Young Community Center in Cary. Employee of the Year finalists also recognized were Joy Ennis, Festival Coordinator; Todd King, Special Events Worker; Joy Logan, Customer Service Representative; and Renee Poole, Senior Human Resources Consultant.
“When you think about the high quality of life in Cary, a great deal of the credit goes to Town employees like Tony Menendez who are truly committed to this organization and the community we all serve,” said Ben Shivar, Town Manager. “I am very proud of and personally grateful to Tony and so many like him for all that he does to keep Cary one of the safest and greatest places to live in America.”
Puerto Rican Descent, Bronx Raised, Proud to Serve
As a young child, his family moved to the Bronx, New York from Puerto Rico. His older brother, who became a Sergeant Major (retired) in the United States Marines, influenced Tony.
“I always liked a challenge, like my brother does. I saw how proud he was. And how proud my mom and dad were of him. And how proud of him I was. I wanted to do that too,” Tony told us.
Tony spent 8 years in the Marines, serving in Desert Storm. He was brought to Camp Lejeune as an MP during that tenure and got a taste of North Carolina. Upon leaving the Marines, he wanted to do two things: stay in North Carolina and continue to serve.
He became a police officer in Apex, then Angier. 11 years ago he became one of Cary’s finest.
“Any regrets? Just that I didn’t come here sooner. That’s it. I always liked the way Cary was organized and how it did business. I learned over time that the administration is fabulous and the Police Department really cares about its employees as well as its citizens. And the town employees are really the cream of crop. I want to retire here.”
Tony was recently engaged, and is the proud father of a daughter at Arizona State University and a son that is in high school.
What Set Tony Apart…
I asked what made the decision tilt toward Officer Menendez. I got several answers.
To sum it up…it was about a “human connection with the community”.
I was shown letters from people specifically mentioning Tony’s sensitivity to the citizens of Cary. In every case it was about his “ability to establish trust” – with everyone: with agencies and officers working the case, as well as with the people involved.
He was also instrumental in connecting with victims and suspects because of his translation skills.