In between responding to calls while on patrol in Weld County’s southern neighborhoods, sheriff’s deputy Glen Cowan said his move from England to the United States really began as a summer vacation.
Cowan, who officially became a U.S. citizen this month, spent the summer in Colorado in 1999, and he realized there are opportunities in the states that he wouldn’t have had in his hometown of Sunderland, England. So he stayed.
As he drove in his patrol car Thursday, waving at residents in between responding to reports of a suicidal man and a rollover crash, Cowan said he sort of fell into law enforcement. Now he looks forward to being out in the community each day.
“No two days are the same,” he said. “You see the good and bad in people.”
Cowan said his unique background provides his colleagues with ammunition for good-hearted ribbing, which he dishes right back.
Bureau Chief Steve Reams, who has worked with Cowan in one way or another over the years, said Cowan’s quick wit and sense of humor make him fun to work with.
“He tends to bring a lighter attitude to anything we’re doing,” Reams said.
But it’s not all about the joking, Reams said. Cowan plays an integral part in the office by bringing a fresh perspective to situations because he grew up in another country. Overall, Reams said, Cowan is good at what he does because he obviously enjoys coming to work.
“This is an opportunity that he likely never would have gotten without coming to America, and you can see that he appreciates that in everything he does,” Reams said.
Cowan received his green card just after he decided to stay, allowing him to work and live in the United States, and he eventually relocated to Texas. Soon he had a family to support, and becoming a corrections officer at a maximum-security prison near Tyler, Texas, seemed to be the best option at the time.
Cowan grew up watching television shows like “CHiPS,” but it wasn’t until he was working at the prison that he knew he wanted to be a law enforcement officer.
“Once I began working as a corrections officer, it was soon after that I knew I wanted to do more,” he said.
Cowan began working in the Weld County Jail in 2005, and he completed the sheriff’s office in-house academy to become a patrol deputy in 2008. He was a community resource officer at first, which he says helped him as a patrol deputy because he knows the residents and they know him.
“That was a good experience because it helped me establish rapport with the community I was in,” he said.
Looking back at when he started on patrol, Cowan said his perception of law enforcement was different than it is now.
“I was naïve when I first became a police officer,” Cowan said. “I thought I could find every drug dealer and take every drug dealer off the streets.”
His perception changed quickly. He now recognizes the importance of everyday calls, like DUI arrests.
“It’s the little things every day that are victories,” he said.
Cowan keeps in mind that by keeping watch in Weld County communities, he’s helping keep children like his daughter, now 13, safe.
“I think having a child really changed my perspective on a lot of things,” he said. “I feel like I can give back to the community in that way.”
Cowan’s parents weren’t all too thrilled when their only child decided all of a sudden to stay in the United States, nor were they happy that he waited 10 years to go back home for a visit. Still, he said, they visit when they can, and they’re considering a move to the United States.
“They’re proud of the profession I’ve chosen,” he said, “but they worry about me.”
Cowan was sworn in as a citizen last week. He said it was great but surreal, especially when he had to hand over his green card — his constant companion for 14 years.
“It’s kind of like gold dust,” he said. “It allowed me to do everything.”
With his citizenship, Cowan now has the right to vote and obtain a federal job. He said to celebrate, he’ll be traveling to Washington, D.C., and New York City, bringing his British heritage “full circle,” as he put it.
“Now I’m finding my own pursuit of happiness, like many people did before me. It was a long process. But as cliché as it is, I’m proud to be an American,” Cowan said.