By Becky Chan
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
As promised, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) delivered, in Officer Young Jun Lim. Lim is one of three additional officers assigned to the redrawn boundaries of the West Precinct, which now includes Little Saigon. In her January announcement of the expanded precinct, Chief of Police Carmen Best indicated one of the new officers would be Asian American.
Born in Portland, Ore., of immigrant parents from South Korea, Lim grew up in Vancouver, Wash. His parents emigrated from South Korea separately — his father at 16 and mother at 25 — and met as adults in Portland. Lim’s grandparents, originally from Busan, ran a mini-mart in downtown Portland, where his father helped out while a teenager.
Breaking an Asian American stereotype, Lim admitted not being into the academics. He described himself as rambunctious, the black sheep of the family. He praised his parents for doing a great job raising him and raved about his two brothers, who are “incredibly smart.” His older brother is studying to be a dentist, the younger one is just learning how to drive. Lim recalled fondly of his mother reigning him in because he was a “rough, hard-headed kid.” He played football, wrestled, and skipped school. Lim’s mother admonished him to work hard while he was young, so he could relax when he was older. Her advice stuck.
Lim always knew he wanted to be a first responder. Aiming to be a firefighter, he studied Fire Science at Bates Technical College in Tacoma. Lim gained new insight and respect for the profession, but realized it wasn’t a good fit. In addition, financial reasons caused him to leave school and move to Fife to work with his father, a warehouse manager. The monotony of the warehouse job provided him time to contemplate his future. He believed he was born to help people, and he wanted something more meaningful.
One day, a co-worker at the warehouse brought Lim a SPD recruiting brochure. The testing was free and he applied. Lim prepared quite a bit for the test, which included an oral board, written exam, physical fitness evaluation, psychological evaluation, and a background check. The preparation paid off. Lim passed on his first attempt. On May 24, 2017, Lim was accepted into the Washington State Basic Law Enforcement Academy for training.
Still on probation, Lim has been at the West Precinct since January. Lim covers the King 1 beat, which encompasses just north of the Safeco Field and CenturyLink area. He also responds to the newly added Little Saigon area in the King 3 beat when needed. Lim speaks Korean and loves being on patrol. Being first on the scene, dealing with people from all walks of life, preventing crime, and connecting with the community is exhilarating for him. If it were up to him, he’d stay on patrol his entire career.
Lim works from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m., but arrives at the precinct an hour early. He spoke affectionately of his “amazing” mom waiting up, worrying until he returns home from work. Due to opposite work schedules, Lim laments not being able to see more of his father. Lim relishes opportunities to catch up with some of his academy classmates when they cross paths at the precinct.
At 22, Lim carries a tough jock persona, especially evident when he is loaded down with radios, handcuffs, a baton, pepper spray, and of course, his firearms. Deep down he is gentle, and the empathetic side of him wants to treat everyone as best as he can, striving to make a difference every day. “Everyone deserves a chance,” Lim said. “There is a reason behind their situation.” Lim believes every officer tries to be as understanding as possible. However, he added, “Officers also have their own personal lives, personal problems.” A self-proclaimed “goofy person” out of uniform, he has learned to suppress some of his emotions. While on the job, he is very serious and business like. He feels “warm and fuzzy”when people knock on his patrol car window, thanking him for being a police officer.
Next time you see Officer Lim cruising in the neighborhood in his squad car, remember he is not only serving the community, he is a part of the community. He is a son, a brother, and a friend.
Perhaps you might want to say hello and get to know the goofy side of him.
Becky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.