Deputy Ryan Handy is the newest addition to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station — and although he’s new to the force, he’s been dreaming of a law enforcement career since he was 13 years old.
Growing up in Santa Clarita, Handy grew a passion for watching “Crime Scene Investigation,” which motivated him to take after-school forensic courses through the William S. Hart Union High School District.
As Handy continued his forensic courses, one of the instructors, a retired officer, told him to check out the Deputy Explorer Program. The program is a career development and education program for young adults ages 14-20.
The program is designed for young adults interested in law enforcement, providing training and offering volunteer experiences and community outreach.
“I gave it a shot and signed up for the Explorer Academy,” Handy said. “After going through the academy, I realized it was fun learning what it meant to be a deputy.”
After completing the Explorer Academy, graduates can work at a sheriff’s station. Since Handy was born and raised in Santa Clarita, he wanted to work locally.
“The Santa Clarita Valley station was sentimental to me, so I put in an application and went through an interview process,” Handy said. “Following the interview process, I was contacted and told the SCV Sheriff’s Station would love to have me as an Explorer.”
Handy volunteered at the station regularly, helped with community events and participated in ride-a-longs out in the field. This training prepared Handy for what it meant to be a deputy in the field.
When Handy progressed as an Explorer, he learned the importance of law enforcement and helping the community in times of emergency.
“We’re all here to help and we go out there and try to make a difference in someone’s life for the better and help them in their time of need,” Handy said.
The goal for Handy is always to treat every individual as a person from the community, and he navigates handling calls and working with those in time of need with that lens of care and consideration.
After applying through the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, Handy went through a background check and physical test, and received an academy date. He attended the academy for five months every day from Monday to Friday, starting at 6 a.m.
“Every day I learned the ins and outs of the law, and how to respond to calls,” Handy said. “I learned basic training of what it means to be a deputy and how to be a deputy.”
Handy quickly learned the demands and knowledge requirements of being a deputy, saying the job is emotionally, mentally and physically taxing. But, even with the conversation about the dangers of law enforcement during this tumultuous time, Handy wouldn’t choose a different profession.
Additionally, he spends his free time decompressing with family, who support him in his career and goals. Handy’s father is an L.A. city firefighter and understands the demands of being a first responder.
Handy enjoys his work and the camaraderie at the station, and takes all advice from the more experienced deputies, who impart wisdom drawn from thei experience.
“They’re going to challenge me, push me to better myself, question me on topics, and just to make sure that I know what I’m doing,” Handy said.
Growing up in Santa Clarita, Handy has a strong connection and relationship to the community and feels less stress for the community to reach out to him. Additionally, he’s familiar with the area and enjoys seeing people recognize him.
“I’ve established a lot of relationships through Santa Clarita, so there’s a lot of places where I’ll bump into people that I know, and it takes away that stress that I’m a law enforcement deputy,” Handy said.
Handy added that those interested in the Explorer Academy should reach out and sign up because it can open many opportunities, and not just in L.A. County.
“The Explorer program is great because it does open your eyes to the world of law enforcement and gives you that upper hand of knowing details and information that the person walking off the street doesn’t get exposed to prior to going through the academy.”
SCV Sheriff’s Station Capt. Justin Diez said young adults like Handy learn responsibility, discipline, life skills, and being a better person, regardless of whether they ultimately join law enforcement or the military, or go on to college.
Diez said there are seven jails, 23 sheriff’s stations, and multiple courthouses that Handy could have chosen to go to, but he chose to stay local and give back to his community.
“To choose to come back here at SCV Sheriff’s Station is perfect,” Diez said. “That’s the success story we’re looking for, and Handy is exactly what we’re looking for in the Sheriff’s Department.”
Diez added that he recently attended an Explorer Academy graduation and expressed how rigorous the program is, and now there are two new Explorers at the SCV Sheriff’s Station. He looks forward to their success and growth, just like Handy was able to do as a young adult in the Explorer Program.