Oklahoma officer has embraced Special Olympics since his Explorer days
By Dan Campana
Tulsa Police Officer Joshua Metcalf doesn’t mince words about his job.
“I’m living my dream,” said Metcalf, who has spent his entire seven-year career working patrol in Tulsa. “Law enforcement is something I was born to do. I literally ran around the house when I was six with handcuffs. I would chase my sister and handcuff her. I didn’t even watch a lot of cartoons – I watched ‘COPS’ and Rescue 911.”
Of course, Metcalf didn’t go directly from junior living room patrolman to donning a badge professionally. Straight from high school, he enlisted in the Navy where he served on the USS Nashville as a Gunner’s Mate. After an honorable discharge, he went to junior college for his associate’s degree in criminal justice administration before earning a bachelor’s in criminal justice police from the University of Central Oklahoma.
Metcalf’s duties also include time as a field training officer, a part-time recruiter for the department, a member of the Police Activity League and the main person running Tulsa PD’s men’s basketball team. Through it all, he operates with the simple notion that, as a police officer, protecting and serving isn’t a one-size-fits-all philosophy – you can help people in different ways.
One of the ways Metcalf learned to do just that actually dawned on him while in high school when he was a police explorer with the Stillwater Police Department. He assisted with the Special Olympics Oklahoma Summer Games as part of his duties, and the cause has been a big part of his life and career ever since.
“To be a police officer it takes a special kind of person, especially in today’s society. It’s not easy, but I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. In this profession, you see a lot of people on what sometimes is the worst day of their life,” Metcalf explained. “To deal with this you have to have some kind of therapy and the Special Olympics is a big part of my therapy.”
Scrolling through his memories, Metcalf remembers a police versus Special Olympics athletes basketball game during his first year with Tulsa as one of the moments that “hooked” him on the meaningful connection between law enforcement and Special Olympics.
“After the game, an athlete came up to me and told me that it was his dream to dunk a basketball. This man was not a small man, but I was determined to make his dream come true,” Metcalf recalled. “I used all my strength I had and lifted him up to dunk the basketball. Man, the smile on his face is what I call the Super Bowl smile – the look you see when a professional football player finally wins the Super Bowl.”
That snapshot, combined with participating in his first Polar Plunge and Law Enforcement Torch Run while in the academy, solidified his dedication to the cause early on. And, it’s only strengthened more over the years with every “Tip a Cop” event or “Cop on a Rooftop” fundraiser.
He’s also literally stepped up his efforts by joining what he calls the “most painful and most challenging” event: the Jared Shoemaker Memorial Walk, which benefits Special Olympics. It honors Shoemaker, a Tulsa officer and Marine corporal, who was killed in Iraq in 2006. Walkers trekked roughly 65 miles from Tulsa to Stillwater over three days in May.
“I completed every step of this road march for four consecutive years,” Metcalf shared.
Metcalf recently returned from Seattle where he took part of the final leg of the 2018 Law Enforcement Torch Run at the Special Olympics USA Games – a trip that appears to have further bolstered his passion for Special Olympics.
“… It was awesome. Words can’t even describe the experience. The athletes, officers and citizens I met were just amazing. Not to mention, Washington is such a beautiful place – sometimes I honestly thought I was dreaming,” Metcalf explained. “To me the Special Olympics are the meaning of life and I honestly don’t think there is a better non-profit organization than the Special Olympics. What the organization does is truly just amazing.”
Metcalf encourages others to get involved because of the many things gained from being a part of the Special Olympics community.
“Wearing the badge to me is a lifestyle combination of protecting and serving the citizens in many different capacities. As law enforcement, we are ‘Guardians of the Flame of Hope’ for the athletes. This, to me, is one of the many ways we serve the community we live in and the world,” he said. “Everyone can benefit from the Special Olympics and I strongly recommend everyone gets involved.”
Read the entire 50 Badges series here.