Fil-Am reserve deputy sheriff recognized for frontline service

Charlie Ongsingco, a reserve deputy sheriff at the Altadena Sheriff’s Station.

ABOUT four days a week, Charlie Ongsingco suits up in uniform and reports for duty at the Altadena Sheriff’s Station.

Ongsingco is among over 600 active reserve deputy sheriffs in the county’s Reserve Forces Details, which is one of the largest law enforcement reserve units in the nation.

As a reserve deputy sheriff for the past two years, Ongsingco is on patrol and carries out duties similar to his colleagues who are full-time with the department. These days, he’s been a part of the station’s civil unrest team and COVID-19 crisis patrol.

But, he doesn’t take more than $1 a year — or about 67 cents after taxes.

“It’s just for the love of it. It’s one thing you want to bring back to the community to help and reach out, especially at times like right now,” Ongsingco said.

When not in uniform, Ongsingco, who immigrated from Bacolod, Philippines in 1989, owns a business specializing in construction and first response restoration.

With Filipino American History Month coming to a close, the LA County Sheriff Community Advisory Council honored Ongsingco with a “frontliner award of excellence” in a ceremony on Monday, October 26 during a ceremony at the Hall of Justice in Downtown LA.

“[Ongsingco] is not compensated for his time working patrol or when he’s assisting the station’s duties,” LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in his remarks, adding, “This is what makes our county, nation so great — everybody comes together. I know there’s a crowd that thinks that diversity is a weakness, it’s actually a strength. The more heterogeneous, the more diverse our culture is, the richer we are as a community.”

Several Fil-Am community groups — such as the Long Beach Bacolod Association, Los Angeles Philippine Women’s Club, Filipino Americans Who Support Law Enforcement, and National Federation of Filipino American Associations — also recognized the reserve deputy with certificates.

“We wanted to see if we could honor a Filipino American that basically would give his life for just $1 year. When I heard about that, I said, ‘We’ve got to honor this man,’” said Peter Ramirez, a member of the sheriff’s advisory council and president of the Long Beach Bacolod Association.

Ongsingco (center) was honored with a “frontliner award of excellence” by the LA County Sheriff Community Advisory Council during a ceremony attended by Sheriff Alex Villanueva (center right) and representatives of Fil-Am community organizations on Monday, October 26. | AJPress photos

Though law enforcement has been under fire lately amid protests against the use of excessive force and over-policing of certain communities, Ongsingco continues to volunteer his time and hopes to show a different side of the department’s duties.

“Is it difficult? Maybe. But like I said, if it comes from the heart, you’re doing the right thing. I wouldn’t do anything else in the world….At the end of the day, you’re making a difference in everybody’s life, or at least, a life,” he said.

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