"I figured the military would be the best training to become a police officer," said the 29-year-old Guevarez, who took the oath last week as one of only two new hired recruits to the township's police force. "It got me the training and got me out of the house, but I never knew I would spend 12 years working at it."
For Joe LoRocco, a 24-year-old lifelong resident of Weehawken, being a police officer is just following along the family lines.
"My uncle [Anthony Coppitelli] was a Weehawken cop," LoRocco said. "I used to see his uniform all the time, and that inspired me. I knew that is what I wanted to be."
Both Guevarez and LoRocco received their badges during a ceremony at Town Hall last Wednesday night. They will now head to the Jersey City Police Academy for the next 22 weeks, where they will receive the state-certified training to become regular members of the Weehawken police force.
Both Guevarez and LoRocco earned a place on the force in their first attempt at taking the state Civil Service exam.
"I took the test, and it took me about a year to get the call," said Guevarez, a native of Harrison in west Hudson County who has called Weehawken his home for the last four years. "It felt like it was a long time waiting, but I'm glad it worked out."
Guevarez said that he traveled to 30 different nations during his stint with the Marines.
"I was out at sea a lot and traveled all over," Guevarez said. "But after 12 years, I started to think about my life, and I realized that I was moving around too much. I knew I had to do something different with my life."
So under the encouragement of his fiancée, Weehawken teacher Jill Melnichok, Guevarez took the test and is now ready to take on life as a police officer.
"I'm prepared for this challenge, more than you'll ever know," Guevarez said. "I think my military background has me ready. The discipline, the use of firearms, the marksmanship. I don't need to learn any of that. I also think I have a heads-up in the fitness part of the academy. I think 80 percent of the time spent in the academy is mental, so I'm ready for that."
LoRocco, who had been working as a deckhand for NY Waterway before getting the call to become a police officer, also feels like he's ready for the challenge. He's always been a fitness buff and has worked with younger brothers David and Steven to get ready for their respective football and wrestling seasons over the last few years.
"I played football as well and I love to work out," LoRocco said. "I think I'll be able to push myself through all the discipline."
LoRocco said that he doesn't know Guevarez well, but plans to get to know him well over the next four months.
"I'm looking forward to it," LoRocco said. "I think it's going to be exciting and it's going to inspire me more, knowing that there are only the two of us there representing Weehawken. I like it better that it's only the two of us. We'll get to know each other well and we'll push each other through it."
As for getting his badge last week, LoRocco was almost at a loss for words.
"It was the proudest day of my life," LoRocco said. "The happiest day of my life was when I saw my name as No. 2 on that list. But this was something special. I know I'm ready for this. I've been ready my whole life."
While Guevarez is of Hispanic descent, don't automatically think he will be a bilingual member of the department.
"My parents were born in Puerto Rico, but I never learned Spanish," Guevarez said. "I'm a lost cause. Incredibly, my fiancée teaches Spanish and speaks it, so she can definitely help me. I guess I better learn now."