In this series of “Who We Are” we dive into who UC Merced Police officer Vince Sapien is. Vince is a native Mercedian. Vince was born and raised in Merced and is a fine example of what quality citizens Merced produces. Growing up in a Hispanic household, he learned the values of family, hard work, and loyalty. As a young person his family immersed him in athletics, religion, and civic duties like the Cub Scouts. Vince was a multi-sport athlete in high school and went on to play water polo at Merced Community College. Through his years of athletics, he found the true meaning of being part of a team and what it meant to be a leader. After a couple of years at the community college, Vince decided to join the work force.
He worked several local jobs eventually landing at the local cable company. It was there he discovered his passion for customer service and love for interacting with the community. Towards the latter part of his career with the cable company, he found himself wanting to help the community in a greater way than just making sure their cable was working properly. Vince returned to the community college, taking classes towards being a firefighter and police officer. While working a full-time job and starting a family, he became a volunteer firefighter. He also began the application process with the City of Merced to become a police officer. The City of Merced offered him an opportunity to become a police officer and he was faced with the decision to take it or hold out for a firefighter position. In the end, he chose law enforcement.
Vince spent nearly thirteen years with the city, where he served in numerous capacities. He spent a decade on SWAT, eight years as a K9 handler, five years as a firearms instructor, two years as a crime scene technician, one year as a hostage negotiator, and several years as a Merced Police Department Citizens Academy instructor. Vince was able to fine-tune his ability to be a team player, his attention to detail, and his ability to deliver superior customer service to the citizens of Merced, providing them with a better quality of life. We knew Vince had all of the desirable traits we were looking for when he began to consider the move to the UC Merced Police department.
We also knew Vince was more than a police officer. We knew Vince was dedicated to helping the youth in the community through his efforts in coaching baseball. For several years he helped less fortunate athletes in the community play baseball, by helping out financially, carpooling, and mentoring. He was able to take a group of young athletes to Cooperstown, New York to play at the Field of Dreams baseball park. While they were there, he was able to take young athletes to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Vince has been fortunate enough to see some of the athletes he’s coached go on to have successful high school baseball careers and several even being awarded college scholarships. Vince is known for always reminding the student-athletes that it’s not about winning the game, but about winning in life. He says his goal has always been about teaching young people to grow up to be good citizens in the community that can be dependable and accountable.
Vince loves the game of baseball and often uses it in metaphors by saying, “it’s not about striking out or a bad outing on the mound, it’s about being resilient, learning from your mistakes, and getting better every day.” Vince brings his resilience and life experience to the UC Merced Police department where he continues to invest his time helping his partners, students, and staff experience a greater quality of life that provides equity, diversity, and inclusion for all.
Vince has been with the UC Merced Police department for a year and a half and it is easy to see he still enjoys his passion for serving the community. Vince serves on a local high school booster club which creates numerous fundraisers to ensure every student-athlete has the opportunity to participate regardless of their financial situation. He most recently formed several fundraisers, with the help of family, friends, and community members to raise funds for a dear friend and partner who has been diagnosed with cancer. Vince helps ensure UC Merced is a safe space.