New Rochester police officer finds helping people most rewarding part of the job
An initial positive experience with police officers set Avery Xiong on a path to become a Rochester Police Officer this year.
ROCHESTER — Officer Avery Xiong is one of 10 recent hires by the Rochester Police Department.
Why did you decide to get into law enforcement?
I grew up in the city called LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and my family, as well as my community, didn't grow up in a lot of money. We didn't have the luxury of cell phones and tablets at that time. We would hang out with our community members and other kids in the neighborhood. My parents wanted us to stay busy during the summer, so they enrolled us in a summer program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
I remember a few officers that were involved and they were enthused, they were energetic, they were motivating. They encouraged all the kids to participate, regardless of your skill in a sport or an activity. They made you feel welcome.
Well, I got to know these officers very well. And they asked me do you play any sports, I said, "I play soccer." So the next week, they got together and they provide soccer balls, they provided little orange cones for us to play soccer. I thought that was very unique, that these officers who I don't know, they don't know who I am, obviously, would go out of their way to meet my needs and make me happy and put a smile on my face.
I just kind of carried that with me that I want to help strangers, I'm gonna help my family members as best as I can. And that's how I got into the career that, yes, you got the flashing red lights, the shiny badge to firearms, but actually engaging with people who actually need your help. That's more fulfilling and rewarding to me.
What do you enjoy about the job?
You get to go to work and talk to different people every day. You might see the same people in the same week, but the conversation more than likely will probably be different. And what I enjoy about this career is knowing that maybe one day, I might have helped someone turn their life around.
I've seen people I've dealt with who have had a bad chapter in their life, and helping them and responding to their needs and listening to them, and to see them turn their life around for something positive. It's really great. If I can make an impact on someone that's positive, and then see them progress through life I'm satisfied with that. That's pretty rewarding to me.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I'm pretty active in basketball, soccer, fishing. My wife and I and my daughter, we like to take road trips and just sight-see. I think with the pandemic, spending time with family has really benefited me and has created more things to do and create more memories with my family. We love to travel. We love to try different types of foods and we go to different festivals around Minnesota and Wisconsin.
What do you enjoy about Rochester?
The community members are very positive and they show a lot of support for law enforcement. I've been here for six years in Rochester as a community service officer, but also I'm going into my first year as a sworn police officer.
So in a matter of six years, not once has a community member ever said anything negative to me or say anything to kind of like ruin my day, everyone's been very positive. I don't know about other cities, but I just feel welcome here.
I get up every day and I actually enjoy and look forward to going to work. I can't speak for everyone, but the community here is great. Especially the schools, my daughter's been enrolled in Rochester for a year, and she's enjoyed it. I really can't say anything negative about this city for the six years I've been here. I feel like I have a lot of support from my community members, as well as my colleagues from my agency that I work for.
Asked & Answered is a weekly question-and-answer column featuring people of southeastern Minnesota. Is there somebody you'd like to see featured? Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org .