Officers Albert Trotter and Jessica Arrubla know what it means to have each other’s back as partners.
They served together with the New York Police Department for the past three years.
More than 2,100 miles later, they still serve together on the same shift for the Queen Creek Police Department.
At a time when law enforcement faces historic public scrutiny, both wanted to have a positive impact in a place where the community still welcomed police.
“Who wouldn’t want to work for a community like that?” Trotter asked.
Neither of the officers are strangers to the Grand Canyon State.
Trotter, 35, has several family members from the Tucson area and Cochise County and made annual road trips to visit them for the past 15 years.
“I’ve just always loved Arizona,” he said. “My wife and I just always loved the Southwest.”
Arrubla said her eldest brother moved to Arizona in 2004 and currently works as a sergeant for the Phoenix Police Department.
Arrubla, 40, said she has made regular trips to see him out here since 2005 and eventually bought a home in the East Valley in 2015.
She served with the NYPD since 2008 and Trotter said he joined the department in 2012 and both served together for the past three years in the 107th Precinct that sits in the heart of Queens.
In 2015, New York City started a pilot program that planned to have police work based around neighborhood policing.
In January 2018, Trotter said he started as a neighborhood coordination officer for their precinct.
NCOs work as “your local problem solvers” and spend all their working hours within their assigned sectors actively engaging with local community members and residents, he explained.
“They get to know the neighborhood, its people, and its problems extremely well,” according to the NYPD website.
Both officers earned local recognition for rescuing an elderly man from a house fire in Flushing.
“They’re the ones that reach out to the community in other ways than traditional,” then- commanding officer Deputy Inspector Scott Henry said in an article for the Queens Chronicle. “They try to solve issues with the community as well as for it.”
Since 2020, Trotter said the debate around law enforcement has enveloped the city and decided that it became too much for his family’s safety.
“You could look up any articles about how some of the public feels back in New York City,” he said. “I didn’t live in New York City but unfortunately some of the problems from New York City would bleed out to the surrounding counties as well.”
He said the major catalyst that started his career move in motion came when he discovered the Town of Queen Creek planned to start its own police department.
Arrubla said she has become well-acquainted with the area through many visits over the years – so much so that she had applied earlier to another department but didn’t get the job.
“Since 2015, I’d always come around this area…not having any idea that they would eventually have their own police department,” she said.
After having discussions with their respective families, Trotter said they both applied and interviewed around the same time.
“We ended up telling them at one point that we both worked together as partners,” he said.
Both officers started last year and have endured some adjustment to the department and the area, including the methodology and terminology.
But they said they also understand that cultural differences naturally exist between New York and Arizona.
“I think the family values a lot of people have in Arizona, whereas New York City unfortunately, some of those family values you don’t see there,” Trotter said. “I think that plays a big, big role into the way people behave.”
Arrubla said that partnership has morphed into a sibling connection to the point that her son said he found a resemblance between him and Arrubla’s biological brother.
“I see AJ as like a brother from another mother,” she said. “He is family to me.”