Fresno police detective returns from emotional journey

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Saturday, November 8, 2014
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A Fresno police detective was overwhelmed after taking a life-changing trip.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno police detective was overwhelmed after taking a life-changing trip.

Detective Danny Kim returned to Cambodia for a three-week visit to an area where he grew up in a refugee camp.

Kim said he's wanted to return for a long time. "Every time I see photos it kind of touched me and also I want to see with my own eyes. Get the smell and the taste. The facial expressions of those kids."

It was an emotional journey. His parents and nine siblings lived in the Kao I Dang refugee camp from 1978 until 1985 when they came to the US. The little kid who would grow up to be a Fresno police detective recalled the violent acts of the Khmer Rouge in a war-torn country.

Kim said, "I remember the armed robberies and home invasion at night. We have neighbors being shot and killed."

Kim brought pencils and pens to kids at a school in Poi Paet 100 yards from where he was born.

He explained, "That little notebook, you know the one you use in your notepad, that meant so much to them."

Kim joined the Fresno Police Department in 1998. He had no idea a roll of Fresno PD stickers he brought along would be so popular.

He said, "Those kids show up with no shoes. Some not even in uniform because they can't afford it. Some travel kilometers, 2 to 3 kilometers just to get to school."

Danny went out and bought some bikes and urged the kids not to give up hope.

His message, "Promoting high education and encourage them to do well to get out from where they're out."

Kim's parents showed him where relatives were executed and how lucky he was just to survive.

Kim said, "I was gonna die many, many times. She told me that she bathed me in pond that has like dead bodies and stuff floating around."

Detective Kim didn't set out to be a one man relief effort. "I didn't expect that. I didn't think I would feel that way. I think it's going to change me, my perspective, perception of the people there."

Detective Danny Kim saw himself in the little boys in Cambodia. The trip gave him a deeper appreciation for life in the U.S.