“Blessed”: That’s the word that exudes from Adalberto Agosto-Burgos as he describes the past three years of his life.
Adalberto was born and raised in Puerto Rico, where he served as a police officer for 13 years. In 2014, he found himself with a new co-worker: Ken Pitney from Lebanon, Ohio, who had been assigned to work on the island.
The two served together for three years before Ken had to return to his hometown for a family emergency in 2017. Having built a strong friendship, they vowed to stay in touch.
Sticking to his word, Adalberto and his wife spent a week at Ken’s home in Lebanon less than a year later. “During that trip,” Adalberto said, “Ken told me that if I want to move to the U.S., he will help me reach my goal.”
Promise of a better life
Back in Puerto Rico, Adalberto immediately called a family meeting. Along with his wife and three children, they weighed the possibility of moving their life to Ohio, nearly 2,000 miles from home. Everyone agreed relocating was the best decision for their family.
“The main reason I wanted to move was because I thought it would be a good idea for my kids,” said Adalberto. “They were studying at the university in Puerto Rico, and I knew that in the U.S. they would have better job opportunities and a better life.”
Over the next year, he and his family visited Ken a few more times. All the while, Adalberto worked hard to find a job in law enforcement to continue the work he knew from back home.
He quickly learned this would not be an easy task.
Separated by more than distance
Although Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, the two cultures are different: most notably for Adalberto, the language. Because Adalberto spoke very little English, he was continually turned down for jobs.
But he never lost faith. Adalberto believes that God is, and was, with him at every turn.
During visits to Ohio, he developed strong connections with others in the community, which led to opportunities. In November 2019, he got a job interview with Kettering Health’s former chief of police, Thomas Thompson. He offered Adalberto a job, on one condition: he would need to be at the police academy in the U.S. for classes starting in two weeks.
Adalberto had only days to decide what the future looked like for himself and his family. “It was a hard decision because I wanted to come to the U.S.,” he said, “but it was such a short amount of time to make a move like that.”
Answering the call
In the end, he realized the answer was simple. “If God wants me here, I am coming.”
He flew back to Puerto Rico, packed a bag, and returned to Ohio. While attending the academy, he stayed with his friend Ken and his family, who provided Adalberto with everything he needed: food, a room, and a car.
“In March , I went back to Puerto Rico to get my family and any belongings we could take on an airplane,” recalled Adalberto. “Each of us had, maybe, four bags.”
The language barrier wasn’t the only challenge Adalberto faced upon coming to the mainland. He also found himself unable to meet the academy’s timed running requirement.
But Adalberto never lost hope.
Success through persistence
Three years later, in August 2022, Adalberto passed his certification exam through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission. During that time, Adalberto committed himself to learning English and completing all the requirements to become a commissioned police officer in Ohio—including passing the timed running requirement.
“What a lot of people have not seen unless they have worked with Adalberto is that he has put in countless hours studying the English language as well as what he needed to know to pass the police academy,” shared Dan Doherty, police officer II for the Kettering Health Police Department at Kettering Health Washington Township.
On October 6, 2022, Adalberto was sworn in as a police officer for the Kettering Health Police Department, surrounded by fellow officers and even clinical staff members.
And his commitment continues to pay off. Adalberto was promoted to police sergeant and sworn in at a ceremony in June of 2023.
Adalberto didn’t know what to expect when uprooting his family from Puerto Rico and moving nearly 2,000 miles away, but he knew he needed to give them the life they all hoped for.
His faith in God never faltered, so neither did he.
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