Salute the Badge: This TPD trio is family by blood, brothers in blue

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - From father, to son, to son-in-law, the commitment of service runs deep in one family at the Topeka Police Department.

"Ever since he was a little boy he would always tell me, ‘Dad, when I grow up, I want to be a police officer,” Lt. Manuel Munoz said of his son, Officer John Munoz.

“I can't really think of a time where I didn't want to be a cop,” John added.

In 1994, Manuel's wife pinned his badge on his uniform as he joined the TPD. Twenty-five years later, in October of 2018, Manuel pinned that same badge on his son.

"I had to swallow the lump in my throat because there were a lot of tears in my eyes," Manuel said. "My wife was standing right next to my son and I when I got to pin that badge. It meant the world to me."

“There's a big sense of pride that they were pinning on my dad's original badge,” John said. “I knew that I had big shoes to fill. When they pinned that badge on, that's when it really hit me like, this is real."

Manuel said he is proud to have his son take a similar path.

“For him to follow in my footsteps and want to protect his community and do the things I’m doing is a wonderful feeling,” Manuel said.

However, knowing firsthand the dangers he faces can be tough to bear.

“It’s just kind of scary, especially when you turn on the TV or you get on the internet and see where officers have been killed. That scares me,” Manuel said. “Not only as a father, but also as a police officer because we're blood family, but they're also my blue family, too."

Extending their blue family is Officer Brady Qualls with the community response unit. He is Manuel's son-in-law and John's brother-in-law.

Qualls and his family live just two blocks from Manuel. He said his father-in-law helps take care of their five-month-old son.

"I’d do anything for them,” Qualls said. “They've done a lot for me, more than you'd ever expect. They mean a lot to me."

On the tough days, the bond of family – both by blood, and as brothers in blue – brings the three together.

“This job, it can be kind of hard to find people that can relate to the situations you've been in,” John said. “Having two people that I call my family is really nice to be able to talk to them about stuff like that."