Police Academy cadet Daiqwon Buckley prepared to serve Dunmore
DUNMORE, Pa. – Residents of Dunmore and sports fans from across the region will likely recall Daiqwon Buckley from his days as an all-state high school running back. After all, the former Buck was part of the Dunmore team that reached the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AA state championship game in 2014.
But another experience during his upbringing resonated deeply with the gridiron star, eventually leading him to the Lackawanna College Police Academy and a noble profession that will allow him to serve his hometown.
A cadet at an early age
“I always had an interest in law enforcement, since I was about 8 or 9. I used to tell my parents that when I grew up I wanted to be a police officer if the NFL didn’t work out,” Buckley recalled in a recent interview.
At age 12 he enrolled in Camp Cadet, a week-long summer camp for children ages 12-15 that is conducted by the Pennsylvania State Police. The goal of the camp is to introduce participants to the diverse criminal justice system. Buckley said the experience made an even greater impact on his potential desire to become a police officer.
His explosive athletic talent almost gave him another career path. As a member of the Dunmore Bucks football team, Buckley amassed 6,073 rushing yards throughout his high school career. According to local newspaper reports, his impressive stats place him third on the list of the area’s all-time leading running backs behind his brother Michael Perry and Scranton’s Jake McCarthy.
After graduating from Dunmore, Buckley spent a successful season at the Salisbury School in Connecticut before earning a spot as a preferred walk-on at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he enrolled as a criminal justice major. He redshirted for the Temple Owls in the fall of 2015, staying out of competition to further develop his skills. However, a perfect storm of injuries including compartment syndrome and blood clots in his legs effectively ended his football career.
But Buckley wasn’t through looking for a competitive sport to make his mark.
“I started MMA (mixed martial arts) training in my sophomore year of high school. I wasn’t competing until 2014 when I got into my first boxing match, which I won,” he said. “I figured I wanted to stay in shape. When I knew I wasn’t going to play football anymore, I thought I’d mix it up and get in the cage, which was an awesome experience.”
Motivated to succeed
In 2016, Buckley made his first attempts to enter the Lackawanna College Police Academy. The Academy’s rigorous application process includes a variety of pre-admissions tests to ensure that qualified candidates are educated for the profession.
After failing one of those critical exams on two occasions, Buckley admits that he had resolved himself to pursuing other opportunities. His brother Michael gave him the encouragement he needed to take the test once more, and he succeeded.
Buckley began his cadet training with the Scranton Class 233 in August 2016 and immediately immersed himself in his training. He also learned that police work is far different than what many believe it to be.
“The reality is so different from what you expect, but it’s not anything that would make me turn away from it,” he said. “I was able to learn the reality of police work versus what it seems to be on TV or to people who aren’t police officers. There’s so much that goes into being a good police officer.”
Buckley also became a class leader, obtaining the rank of sergeant. He said he was most drawn to the hands-on instruction provided by fellow officers. “That gives you the most realistic look at the situations you’re going to handle on the street.”
At age 20, Buckley is poised for what he hopes will be a long and rewarding career. He and 17 other cadets from Class 233 will graduate on Jan. 27, and he has already submitted his application to the Pennsylvania State Police Academy.
Before that next dream becomes a reality, however, he will put on a brand new kind of Dunmore uniform; Buckley was hired Monday, Jan. 9 as a part-time patrolman in his hometown.
“I’m extremely happy to be able to serve and protect my community. There’s no better feeling than being able to have the community have my back for so long and now to be able to give back in a respected way,” he said. “I’m excited to get out there and help people. Dunmore’s a small town, everybody knows each other, and I’m excited to give back.”
As he prepares to serve Dunmore, Buckley encouraged others who feel compelled to make a difference in their community to enroll in the Lackawanna College Police Academy.
“I believe personally that we have one of the best academies out there. It’s definitely a life-changer.”