Tampa police, firefighters stars of ‘Nightwatch’ reality show

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Juan Ramos knew he always wanted to be a police officer. As a little boy growing up in Cleveland, he saw members of law enforcement in his neighborhood as role models. He always looked up to them and often asked them questions.

“I just I knew that’s what I wanted to be one day. I wanted to help people,” Tampa Police Officer Ramos told WFLA.

That dream would come true several times over.

This proud member of the Tampa Police Department would serve his country as a military police officer in the Marines in places like Iraq and Japan. He loved it.

When he came back to the United States, his career, once again, became about protecting and serving those around him back at home. He became a deputy at Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and then became an officer with the Tampa Police Department where he works an overnight shift – an assignment he relishes and prefers.

For Officer Ramos, his world comes alive when the sun goes down at the end of each day.  “Night shift,” he says with a smile while sitting in his patrol car at TPD’s District 2 near Busch Gardens, “There’s a certain vibe about it … That days just doesn’t have. I can’t wait to see the new show.”

The show he’s talking about is a new reality television program showcasing Tampa’s first responders.

It’s called “Nightwatch,” and it’s all about Tampa – shot entirely in Tampa. The department describes it as, “adrenaline rush.”

It’s an intense, behind-the-scenes look at what life is like for members of law enforcement who work during the overnight hours. For six months, cameras followed and documented the lives of eight members of the Tampa Police Department and ten members of Tampa Fire Rescue.

Watching the streets at night is what “Nightwatch” is all about and this TPD officer knows the shift quite well. “80 percent of my career has been nights,” he told us. “Personally, because I like nights, I prefer working nights.”

Indeed, Officer Ramos is thrilled about seeing his fellow officers as they show the public what it’s like to work between the busy hours between dusk and dawn.

The new dad admits he enjoys being able to keep the city’s citizens safe while they are sleeping. “We’re believers. I’m a believer,” he remarked with passion and conviction. “I believe that there is a fight between righteous and evil sometimes. And I wanna be on the right side of that fight. I wanna be helping people and if I have to put myself on the line, then so be it.”

For Officer Ramos, helping others comes naturally. In fact, he’s surrounded by law enforcement – inspired by both colleagues and family members. His father-in-law recently retired from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office after 30 years. Officer Ramos’ wife joins him on the Tampa streets each night, across town, where she also patrols the city at night.  It is clear that this desire to protect and serve runs deep in this family.

When asked if his newborn little girl, who is just a month old, will someday be a police officer, he smiles. “That would be great. If she wants to be a doctor, that’d be great too,” he chuckles. “We just want her to be happy.”

The newest member of the Ramos family certainly has the best role models possible if she chooses one day to follow in her parents and grandfather’s footsteps protecting and serving the community.

The Tampa Police Department, along with Tampa Fire Rescue and the Tampa mayor’s office are hosting a sneak preview screening of “Nightwatch” at the Tampa Theater at 6 p.m. on Wednesday night. The screening is open to the public and is free.

The show gained popularity in recent years, showcasing the first responders from New Orleans.

“We are super excited,” said TPD spokesperson, Stephen Hegarty. “We’ve been working on this project for a long time. We hope the public comes out on Wednesday night to join us at the Tampa Theatre.”

The Tampa Theatre is located at 711 N. Franklin St. in Tampa. The box office is open weekdays from 10am to 5pm (813) 274-8286, 24 hour information hotline (813) 274-8981

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