Who We Are: Keeping the American dream alive
SUMMIT DAILY NEWS
When Ahmet Susic arrived at O’Hare Airport in Chicago in 2000, he didn’t know what he would do in America, but knew he was determined to build a new life for himself.
Flash forward to 2010: The native of Bosnia and veteran of its bloody civil war was recently promoted to sergeant in the Frisco Police Department. The story of Susic’s rise from new immigrant to trusted civil servant is a testament to the power of the American dream.
Susic’s story starts in his home town of Brcko in what is now northern Bosnia and Herzegovina. As an 18-year-old, Susic was drafted into the Yugoslav People’s Army and was eventually captured as a prisoner of war.
“If I knew what was waiting for me there I would have dug a tunnel from there to here,” said Susic, who prefers not to discuss his time at war.
Following his military service, Susic spent time in Germany playing soccer. It was while in Germany that he learned about an American program that would allow him – as a former prisoner of war – to follow his parents and immigrate to the United States.
“When I got here it was a culture shock. Everything was different here than in Europe,” said Susic, who didn’t speak English when he arrived in America.
The new immigrant settled into life in the Denver area near his parents, who had come to the U.S. a couple of months earlier. As Susic adjusted to life in America, a government official helped Susic secure a job.
“She was asking me what I wanted to do and I said: ‘It’s America, I want to live the dream like everybody else,'” Susic said.
At the time, he said he was not pleased with the job opportunities the government official was suggesting.
“She was telling me about some openings at the golf course maintaining the grass and the trees, which I didn’t agree with that. She asked me, ‘What do you want to do, work in the bank?’ I said ‘Well, that sounds good.'”
Susic started as a teller at Norwest Bank and advanced swiftly, receiving a promotion after three months on the job and a second promotion after six months, despite only a rudimentary knowledge of English.
“I speak five different languages, but English wasn’t one of them,” he said.
Susic said it was through hard work and determination that he was successful at the bank. During this time he took free English classes at Emily Griffith Opportunity School to improve his communication skills.
“I always was a strong supporter of hard work. If you work hard you will be rewarded for it,” Susic said.
It was during his time at the bank that Susic met his wife and mother of his three children, Karen, and found the line of work that would not only become his job, but his career.
While working at the bank, Susic became friends with police officers who protected the establishment. The officers’ approachability and down-to-earth attitude intrigued Susic.
“I like the concept of being approachable by people and being able to talk to someone instead of always displaying authority. Where I come from it’s totally different. I wouldn’t say that people have more respect towards police officers, but more fear of police officers,” Susic said.
Inspired by his interaction with police officers at the bank, Susic quit his job and enrolled at Red Rocks Community College’s law enforcement academy in the spring semester of 2002.
Following graduation from the academy, Susic took a position with the school’s police department, where he served under his first mentor, Chief John Mackey.
During this time, Susic worked multiple jobs to support his young family.
Following a stint with the police department in the small Front Range community of Lochbuie, Susic worked in theft prevention at Home Depot, before rejoining Mackey on a part-time basis at the Dillon Police Department.
“I fell in love because this is really like back home with the mountains,” Susic said.
When he learned of an opening in 2005 with the Frisco department, Susic threw his hat into the ring.
Following his hire, Susic moved his family – which now included three small boys, Aron, Adam and Alex – to Summit County.
“I have three boys, and I’m very proud of my boys and this is who I live for,” Susic said. “I brought them here and they fell in love with snow and the mountains and my wife goes ‘I kind of like this.'”
During his five years in Frisco, Susic said he has grown as an officer and as an individual; “I kind of see myself as a product of this department. Of this philosophy of this department and the community policing and everything we stand for.”
Over the past half decade, the youth soccer coach and elementary school DARE officer said he feels like he has found his true home.
“I’m proud to say that I consider myself a part of this community,” he said. “My kids go to school here. My wife works here. I always say, ‘not only do I work in Frisco, but I live here.’
“I’m new in this country and people accepted me here; it’s making me proud. Surely I’m doing something right in my life.”
Susic said that through hard work and determination he feels he is truly living the American dream.
“I’m not extraordinary rich or anything, but my soul is rich,” he said. “I know that I’m raising kids in a good country – that they are not going to see what I saw in my life, especially coming from a place like Bosnia. I’m happy that I’m living here and I’m happy that I can give a future to my kids. And I know that they are going to be safe here and I know that they can go to school here, finish their college, get great jobs and always be safe in this country.”
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