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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Former Colts lineman chasing childhood dream

Jeremy Brilliant/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - A team player is about to become one of Indianapolis' finest.

Tupe Peko played professional football for the Colts, now he's a rookie again. He's learning to fire a weapon proficiently and control a patrol car, the basics of becoming a street cop.

"I always wanted to be a police officer when I was little, cause everybody wants to be cops and robbers. Seemed exciting," Peko said.

But the new IMPD recruit had a talent that, for 12 years, took him in a very different direction. He played football for teams across the country.

"Jets, Seahawks, Colts, Carolina, Houston, Green Bay and then Las Vegas and Utah for arena football," Peko said.

But Indianapolis was special. The Californian and native of Samoa decided to call central Indiana home, the perfect place for he and his wife to raise their three children.

"I've been living out here since '02, since I got to the Colts and I just love it here. It's nice," he said.

Football was his job, law enforcement was his dream.

"I just rode the football wave until it ended and I'm just going to do what I wanted to do when I was 18, at 31," Peko said.

On the driving course, where speeds excess 70 miles an hour, hitting a cone is a failure and carries a 10 push-up penalty, no matter who you are.

"Don't hit cones, that's the plan," he said.

"He doesn't complain, never complains. I know the workouts are hard, but you can't tell by looking at him, non-verbally, you know, just keeps pushing through," said IMPD training instructor Ofc. Jeff Patterson.

On the turf as an offensive guard, Peko's job was to protect the quarterback. In his new role out on the streets, Officer Peko will be protecting the citizens of Indianapolis.

"Tupe was a great locker room person for us," said former Colts coach Tony Dungy. "A real caring guy and I think he'll do a tremendous job and it's great to see him involved with the police department."

His new job is far from glamorous. From mundane duties to months of physical training that, even for a 6'4", 290-pound former offensive lineman, isn't easy.

"I think it's tougher doing the academy workouts than football," Peko said.

While he never fired a gun before his police training, Peko's aim is getting better. He's set to graduate from the academy next month, then he and other recruits will begin field training, fulfilling his lifelong dream of serving and protecting.

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