HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A teacher, Uber driver and pizza delivery driver. Deputy Pedro Gonzalez Horstmann's journey to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office isn't typical, the agency recently shared.
He joined HCSO at 51 in November 2020. He graduated from the academy in June 2021. But he's no stranger to law enforcement.
Gonzalez Horstmann was born and raised in Havana, Cuba and served in the Cuban Army and was a lawyer and police officer. However, he "often felt conflicted by the politics of the Communist Party," the HCSO said.
Because of this, when he was 37, he and his family left Cuba to seek political asylum. They emigrated to Ukraine and Mexico before finally crossing the U.S. border in 2012 into Texas.
Now living in America, he learned English and worked as a teacher, Uber driver and pizza delivery driver.
Then Gonzalez Horstmann made his way to the Tampa Bay area and met Deputy Marilyn Alvarez, "who gave him hope that he could return to a career in law enforcement," the agency said.
After becoming a U.S. citizen in 2019, he applied to HCSO and ultimately joined the agency as a deputy.
"Any goal you have in this country, the United States, you can get it," Gonzalez Horstmann said. "I started this career at 51 years old. Now I'm 52. My first years in patrol. I don't regret any decision I have taken in my life."
"Deputy Gonzalez Horstmann's journey to HCSO was filled with trials and triumphs, but he never let it deter him from reaching his end goal, which was to ultimately return to a career in law enforcement," Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. "Our Hillsborough County community will benefit from the many places he's been and all of the experiences he's had along the way."
Gonzalez Horstmann's story is part of the sheriff's office's series "Before the Badge." You can watch the full video below or by clicking here.