BY ANDREW MARDER — Two new officers have joined the Hyattsville City Police Department’s (HCPD) ranks. While both completed the Police Academy at Prince George’s Community College in December, Officers Mark Filuta and Chris Evans followed very different routes to the force.
Filuta was raised in Cleveland, Oh. where his mother is a teacher. For his first three years at Hood College in Frederick, Md., Filuta thought he was on the same path. Then, in his senior year, he had a change of heart.
“I couldn’t be tied down in a classroom all day,” he said.
Filuta was already involved in the Maryland Special Olympics, which put him in contact with Hyattsville police officers who often raise money for the athletic organization. In his final year, Filuta decided that law enforcement was his true calling.
He entered Prince George’s County’s Police Academy right after he graduated in May2014.
Unlike Filuta, Chris Evans has been surrounded by law enforcement professionals since childhood. His mother was a special agent for the federal government; his father was a police officer in Dekalb, Ga.; and his aunt served with the Metropolitan Police Department.
Evans moved to Washington, D.C. from Georgia when he was very young, and began participating in public service at the age of 16.
He was still in high school when he joined the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department, where he continues to work as a lieutenant. He also spent four years as a fire dispatcher with Prince George’s County Fire and Rescue before joining HCPD.
Despite their diverse backgrounds, Filuta and Evans said they bonded at the police academy. Both agreed that the six month program constantly tested them “physically, mentally, and emotionally.”
Evans noted the difference between working with the fire department and the police department. Firefighters, he said, “show up after the police have calmed everything down.” As a police officer, he said he sees people at “their actual worst moments,” when disaster strikes.
The ongoing challenge hasn’t deterred either officer. Filuta says that the work “scratches an itch. I never thought I’d have a profession where I could wake up every day and be excited and looking forward to going to work,” Filuta said.
Evans also enjoys the risks and rewards of police work.. “I wake up every day,” he said, ” and put the uniform on with a smile.”
Both officers, while satisfied with their positions, remain goal-oriented.. Evans, for instance, says that he has always loved dogs and would be excited to work with the department’s K9 unit. Filuta has thought about working toward becoming a detective or joining the department’s hard entry team, whose mission is to apprehend felons and violent criminals.
For now, Filuta and Evans are happy to be learning from their trainers, preparing to walk their own beat. Building relationships in the community, familiarizing themselves with the streets, and learning to make difficult decisions are all parts of the process.
“Being the first one on the scene to an extremely serious incident,” Filuta said, puts you in a spot where you have to be comfortable making quick decisions and taking in an overwhelming amount of information.
The hard work has been well worth it. “I know it’s cliché,” Filuta says, “but every day, I will have someone come up to me and say thank you for your service. It’s nice to hear it.”