For Community and Country: Deptford’s MacLacklin Lives to Serve

If you look back on your high school years and remember yourself being unsure of exactly where your life was headed – or even if you’re an adult and still feel the same way – that’s fairly normal.

And you’re also not built quite like Deptford native Brian MacLacklin.
MacLacklin just turned 20 in September, but he already knew where he was going five years ago.

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MacLacklin, a SLEO 1 in the Deptford Township Police Department (special law enforcement officer, a part-time job), began his apprenticeship in law enforcement as a Deptford High School freshman, in the Law Enforcement Exploring program. And this month, 28 months since his high school graduation, MacLacklin is joining the Army, having scored high enough on his entry test to have the opportunity to become an Airborne Ranger.

It’s quite the resume for someone who was still a teenager on Labor Day. But figuring out what he wanted to do with his life came easily for MacLacklin: Simply put, he likes to help people.

“I love the idea of serving,” MacLacklin said. “I always love to help people, so I feel like it would help me help myself to help other people to go into the military, and then give back as much as I can (when I return) and continue to do that with this police department.”

A 2016 graduate of Deptford High School and the child of Michelle MacLacklin, a teacher at Pine Acres School, and Brian MacLacklin, who works as a truck driver for a Deptford company, MacLacklin will report for his first round of training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina on Oct. 10. But his plan for now – and it’s probably a good idea to bet on the plans of a kid who had a lot of this mapped out when he was 14 or 15 – is to return to the town where he was born and raised to continue to serve in the police force.

“He’s always going to have a home with us,” said Rudy Ruiz, a sergeant who has been with Deptford Police for 11 years.

Ruiz is MacLacklin’s superior at Deptford and shares something in common with the soon-to-be-cadet. Ruiz has served in the United States military for the last 19 years.

“I’m excited for him, very excited,” Ruiz said. “Right now, I’ve been working as a drill sergeant. So I might go down there and visit him in that capacity. But he’s shown nothing but excitement. He’s got the drive, he’s got the commitment. He says all of the right things, and with me it’s not an interview process, I just hang out with him, and make sure he does his daily duties. He’s ready to go.”

Ryan Lawrence, The Sun
Special Law Enforcement Officer Brian MacLacklin (right) with his current superior, Sergeant Rudy Ruiz. Both are members of the Deptford Township Police Department who have enlisted in the Army. MacLacklin, who only turned 20 last month, will begin training in the armed forces this month. (RYAN LAWRENCE, The Sun)

MacLacklin said he’s always been interested in the military. Each of his grandfathers served (one in the Army, the other Marines), he has a cousin in the Air Force, and he’s had uncles serve in the Air Force and Navy.

So it just felt natural to be interested in ROTC in high school (he joined during his junior year) and the pull remained even when he began working in the police force.

“Just an opportunity to serve my country at such a level would be outstanding, I’m happy to do it,” he said.

For someone who seemingly has it all figured out, where does MacLacklin see himself in 10 years, when he’ll be 29 going on 30?

“I see myself back here, with a lot more life experience and a lot more training that’ll be very valuable to this department,” he said.

Ryan is a veteran journalist of 20 years. He’s worked at the Courier-Post, Philadelphia Daily News, Delaware County Daily Times, primarily as a sportswriter, and is currently a sports editor at Newspaper Media Group and an adjunct journalism instructor at Rowan University.
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