Chief Ron Brown retired from the Topeka Police Department in 2010 and soon after joined USD 501 as the Director of School Safety.
“I just felt it was a good opportunity to do a different style of policing and have the ability to work with children, young people and hopefully have an opportunity to influence them in a positive way,” he said.
To hit the ground running, Chief Brown said he met with students, teachers and administrators to find out what some of their concerns were.
“Most of those schools are very reliant on those officers being there not only as a presence, but as an individual that they can rely on to provide counseling to students, to explain consequences, to help intervene in the rare case where students are in conflict,” he said.
While school safety is not the only task for the Chief and his officers, it is a major part.
“We are in an environment in this day and age where school safety has become extremely important,” said Chief Brown, “We are not here with the intent to scare people, we’re here to prepare people. We want to make sure they are better prepared in the event of an emergency and they have a good idea of what to do, and that takes practice and that takes a reminder on a regular basis.”
Chief Brown said the approach to school policing is much different from his work at TPD.
“A lot of our work is proactive,” he said, “I often tell the officers the most important tool you have as a school police officer is not what’s on this belt, it’s those relationships with young people.”
He said his time in the military was part of what prepared him for this role.
“The most important thing as a marine officer I understood the concept of taking care of your people. Making sure that they have the tools they need to do their job, providing the opportunities for training and education, and that concept of mentoring and coaching them to explain to them the type of policing we need to do here,” said Chief Brown.
As he finishes his last year as Chief, he hopes to leave a lasting impression on the students.
“Often police are viewed in a negative light because they are dealing with people in crisis situations,” said Chief Brown, “So, this gave me an opportunity to deal with a lot of young people especially in a very positive regard.”
Chief Brown will retire at the end of this school year after 10 years serving the Topeka Public School district.