HONOLULU (KHON2) — Officer Marc Guillermo is getting a lot of attention for his cover of Bruddah Iz’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow. His hidden talent for singing and playing the ukulele was revealed after he helped with the arrest of a suspected thief in a Rocklin neighborhood.
“I didn’t ever expect for it to blow up the way it did, but it was absolutely humbling in the way it did,” Guillermo said, “because it showed a more humanistic side of who we are.”
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On March 19, officers responded to a call of a suspicious person checking door handles, which was captured on the homeowner’s Ring camera. As they checked the area, a person matching the description was seen nearby with a bicycle he had concealed in the bushes.
According to police, the suspect initially provided officers with a false identity, but they were able to verify his true name, which revealed his criminal background.
“We did a records check and come to find out, he had several $100,000 in warrants, theft-related and drug-related. He was also in possession of lock picks,” said Guillermo.
In the suspect’s backpack, police found jewelry and several pairs of glasses. Police believe he stole these items, including the bicycle and an ukulele. He was arrested for the warrants and possession of burglary tools before being taken to South Placer Jail.
During the arrest, one of Rocklin Police Department’s trainees laid out the stolen items to take a photo. That’s when Guillermo saw the ukulele and picked it up.
“This is my time to shine with my coworkers,” he laughed. “I just start tuning in a little bit, and then I started strumming Bruddah Iz’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow. So everybody stopped.”
One of his partners filmed Guillermo, and the video was shared on the police department’s Facebook page — it’s still making its rounds on the internet.
With all the attention he’s getting, Guillermo is sharing this message:
“Just because we’re wearing this uniform — wearing a badge and carrying a gun — doesn’t make us better than anybody else,” Guillermo said. “You know, this is a profession that we chose to be in, to serve our community, because people have that genetic makeup to serve to protect.”
For Guillermo, who turns 38 next week, protecting others has always been in his nature.
Looking back at his time at Ahuimanu Elementary School, he remembers being bullied for his lunch money. Even though he was a big kid, there were kids bigger than him.
“So when I moved to California, I didn’t like that,” said Guillermo. “So what I did was I protected the kids that got bullied because I was a big kid now.”
Guillermo shared that’s how he met his best friend of 30 years. He protected him from a bully and got his stuff back, then they became instant friends.
On Monday, March 28, Guillermo stepped into a school again, this time to make a special appearance for an ukulele club that was inspired by his video.
“It was very humbling because these kids were practicing Somewhere Over the Rainbow for almost a week since that video came out,” Guillermo said. “I wish that was captured because just to see the look on those kids faces was very, very humbling, you know, it’s fulfilling in so many ways.”
The ukulele club was formed for students who wanted to learn an instrument but couldn’t participate in band or didn’t want to.
“Well, what better way than ukulele? It’s only four strings,” said Guillermo. “They were shocked that I taught myself on YouTube, but I would just watch people’s strumming patterns, their fingers — I didn’t even know the chords at the time; I just watched the chords.”
Some of Guillermo’s coworkers didn’t even know he could play until the video came out.
“I work graveyards, so like, not a lot of people knew,” he explained. “That’s kind of how I would stay awake writing reports would be singing to myself or things like that.”
Now, everyone knows, and every day he’s getting recognized.
Guillermo describes Rocklin as a pretty small county, which is about 35 minutes north of Sacramento. He’s been with the Rocklin Police Department for nearly three years and feels lucky to have found a piece of Hawaii. In fact, he prayed to find a place like Rocklin to call home.
“Prior to that, I was a police officer with the City of Monterey Park, which is about 15 minutes east of Downtown L.A., like Skid Row, you know, tent city with all the homeless population. So that’s where I started my law enforcement career,” said Guillermo. “There I gained a lot of experience.”
But within those five years, Guillermo found himself burning out. The pursuits, fights, all the different gangs, critical incidents and homicides were becoming a lot.
“Then when I found out that my wife and I were pregnant with our firstborn, I actually prayed,” Guillermo shared. “I was looking at Tennessee, I was looking at Texas to see, you know, where it’s just a better quality of life.”
Guillermo remembers being on knees praying for a better place.
“We just so happen to find Rocklin out of nowhere,” he said.
During a drive to Nevada City, Guillermo and his family pulled over at a gas station, and unbeknownst to him, they were in Rocklin.
“I saw a dad and his son and a Golden Retriever in the back of a truck. You’ll always see that in Hawaii,” Guillermo recalled. “There was a law enforcement officer there. They were all pumping gas, but everybody said hello to me, and that really resounded with me. Like, I felt a good energy and actually felt God saying, ‘Hey, this is where I want to plant you next.’ You know?”
Guillermo then did his research and discovered that Rocklin is one of the top public school districts in the state, has one of the lowest crime rates and is surrounded by nature. Check, check and check. It was the perfect place for Guillermo to plant his roots and raise his family. From Kaneohe to Rocklin, his search for that island feeling that he missed was over.
“Everybody was humble, welcoming, you know what I mean? So I instantly felt at home,” said Guillermo. “Then working for the police department, that community just embraces their their law enforcement officers, which is very hard to find, but I think that rejuvenated my career, and it fuels me because I also live in Rocklin as well. So, you know, I have a vested interest in keeping my community safe.”
Guillermo shared that a career in law enforcement is tough right now. Back when he started, he said everybody wanted to be a police officer. However, with critical moments under scrutiny, it’s hard to find someone who wants to join. Guillermo hopes people don’t judge a book by its cover.
“We’re husbands, we’re fathers, we’re sons, we’re wives, we’re mothers, and we’re daughters,” he said. “I can speak for my agency, and a career in law enforcement in general, we would take a bullet for you or your family any day, without even thinking about our own family… I’m proud of that.”
A FINAL MESSAGE: THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW
“There’s the letter of the law and the spirit of the law,” said Guillermo. “The spirit of the law is what I pertain to the spirit of aloha, right? If I can pull somebody over, if I have to, you know, a ticket isn’t always going to fix it, or arresting somebody isn’t always going to fix it either. But maybe an educational standpoint, or sharing your testimony, or letting this person know why, you know, that there’s a rule for this, or there’s something that can be learned there… I think that goes a longer way, then to take somebody to jail or to give somebody a ticket, or anything like that, you know, and I can speak for most of my counterparts and my peers — that’s a lot of what we do and exercise.”
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The Rocklin Police Department is still trying to locate the possible theft victims, including the owner of the ukulele. If you have any information about this incident, contact police.