Let’s Roll: You might see officer Nam Nguyen on bike patrol Wednesdays in Westchase District.
In some countries, people labeled early birds are called “A-people” and those who are night owls are called “B-people.” But what about a man who works from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and then takes on a second shift from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.? You might call him crazy, or you could call him Nam Nguyen. Nguyen, a Westchase District Patrol officer, regularly pulls 15-hour days working his regular gig with the Houston Police Department by night then turning right around to guard the District by day.
From videotapes to vigilance
Born in Philadelphia, Nguyen moved to Houston when he was eight with his parents and two sisters. A 2000 graduate of Hastings High School, he was working as a clerk at a Hollywood Video store when he heard about openings at HPD. “I didn’t grow up with dreams of being a police officer,” he said. “I just saw a job opportunity and decided to go for it.”
Graduating from the police academy in 2007, Nguyen was assigned to Midwest Station working night patrol. It’s a duty he enjoys. “Some of my colleagues can’t wait to get off nightshift, but I love it,” he said. “I’ll drive about 40 miles each night making my rounds. I’m a night person and I find there are a lot of exciting calls and good action that can happen then. Plus, I enjoy the camaraderie with my fellow nightshift workers. We’re a close-knit bunch.”
Beating the heat on the beat
Nguyen first learned about the Westchase District Patrol from several of his coworkers. “I heard good things about it and admired a lot of the officers who were a part of it,” he said. “Plus, when I heard there was an opportunity to be on bike patrol, I knew I had to inquire.”
A bike-certified police officer, Nguyen patrols on bicycle with his partner Zhen Wang every Wednesday. “It’s a good change of pace from my regular duties,” he said. “When I’m in a vehicle at night, I’m mostly moving and looking out for trouble. On bike patrol, Officer Wang and I make frequent stops to introduce ourselves to apartment managers, hotel managers and retailers. It’s a lot more interaction with people. Besides, in the summer it helps us get out of the heat for a bit.”
More sleepless nights ahead
While he hopes to prepare to take the sergeant’s exam in the next few years, for now Nguyen is content to be a night owl with his eyes wide open on the streets of West Houston. “I could see myself on nightshift until I retire,” he said. “My job with Westchase District patrol mixes things up so that I’m not bored or complacent.”
One thing Nguyen never gets bored of is dining out. His favorites in Westchase District? “Kasra Persian Grill and Café Pita + are great,” he said. A newlywed who enjoys traveling around the country and abroad, Nguyen is about to encounter a new challenge to his sleep schedule: he and his wife are expecting a baby girl in December. “Earlier this year, we squeezed in some trips to Utah, Mexico and Italy,” he said. “We’re grounded now with the baby coming. I think I’m going to get even less sleep than I do now. We’ll see how my body can handle it.” Call him crazy, but he’ll likely make it work.