Jason Sepulveda has gone from skates to sergeant's stripes.
The Nassau police officer celebrated his rise Tuesday at his department's promotion ceremony, noting that a career in blue was in a sense no different from his former life as an Olympic hopeful and inline skater who competed worldwide.
"We eat, sleep and breathe training," said Sepulveda, a 13-year veteran. "The moment you wake up from the time you go to bed, that's what you did. It goes right into being a police officer. You never stop, 24 hours a day."
Sepulveda and about 170 of his police colleagues were the stars at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City as the Nassau County Police Department and county leaders officially recognized promotions made in the past year and a half. Those promotions included top brass appointees made by Police Commissioner Patrick J. Ryder, who himself was sworn in as the top cop in February after being tapped by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
"It's a huge achievement," Sepulveda said of his promotion. "When you get hired for the job, right away you start thinking about moving up the ranks, and becoming sergeant for me was paramount. I like to lead. When you're in a sport like I was, you kind of take charge and that's kind of like the way I like to live my life, to be a front-runner."
Sepulveda, 45, was a police academy instructor in defensive tactics and physical training when he got promoted in January. He is now a precinct patrol sergeant in the Second Precinct, based in Woodbury.
Fourteen years ago, Sepulveda was at the Olympic training center in Colorado, hoping to get on the Olympic speed skating team. He had trained for years, including starting at 4 a.m. daily with a 40-mile bicycle ride before classes at Brentwood High School.
That 4 a.m. mentality remains, the sergeant said after getting his promotions certificate from Ryder.
"You want to be a good leader," Sepulveda said. "If you want to be respected, you want to lead by example . . . just teaching the younger cops on how to be a good cop, how to be good with the public, to know the rules and just be a productive police officer in our society."