Why Did I Become a Cop?: Sixteen
Years Behind the Badge, 1978 to 1995
"How did this rock and roll fanatic end up wearing a badge?!"
been known to say, that my Mother raised me to become a musician.
I wanted to become a communications engineer, and studied in college
to become a radio personality. But then I became a cop, and ended
up as a professional in Information Technology. Go figure!
did this rock and roll fanatic end up wearing a badge?!
High School at Kearney, Nebraska in 1977, and started my post secondary
education at Kearney State College, majoring in Radio Broadcasting.
I had a strong electronics background, and had been working on and
off in broadcasting during my high school and college years. By
early 1978 it was announced to the family that my step-father’s
job was leading him to Eastern Nebraska, and that they were moving
to Omaha. I was invited to come along, but was also offered the
opportunity to leave the nest, and make it on my own at Kearney.
As most of my friends had departed town already, and considering
the fact that I really had no job prospects in sight, I decided
to move to Omaha with my parents.
Omaha was the city of my birth, and I had been to Omaha many times
and knew it well, this was going to be a new experience for me,
whether I wanted a new experience or not. We moved during the dead
of winter, which is always such a cheerful time to move to a large
city. Everything was frozen or muddy.
thing my parents insisted on, and rightfully so, was that I get
a job. I was hitting the bricks, with four or five interviews per
day. My daily routine was to get up at the crack of dawn and do
battle with the old Chevy, to get it to start in the sub-zero temperatures.
Once the car was started, I would leave it running in the driveway
to warm up, while I would go back inside to cleanup and get dressed
in my three piece suit. I applied to every radio station within
a fifty mile radius of Omaha. Then I started applying for any job
related to any kind of radio and microphone, which included every
public safety and law enforcement agency in the area that might
have a radio dispatcher. By spring time, although I had some prospects,
nothing was firmly landed as a job.
a full year had passed. I had worked various other odd jobs, and
starting attending college again at Blair, Nebraska. Interestingly,
the many job applications I submitted the year before were starting
to bear fruit, all at the same time. The Washington County Sheriff’s
Office at Blair called me back for a follow up interview for the
position of Part Time Dispatcher. Since my college was in the same
town, this was simply a short ride to the bottom of the hill. I
was offered the job, and was soon wearing a deputy’s uniform
with a shiny badge, working 24 to 30 hours per week. After a month
or two, I was offered the job full time. I took it! While
still living in the dorms until spring, I had more or less stopped
attending class, and began concentrating on this new, full time
job. I stayed with the full time job with the Washington County
Sheriff’s Office, which was the start of a sixteen year career
in Law Enforcement.
on a visit to Kearney, I ran into one of my high school classmates,
Cindy who also had also been pursuing a career in broadcasting but
was now working as a Communications Operator for the Emergency Communications
Center for the City of Kearney. In Nebraska. Most of the public
safety / 911 communications were organized at the county level,
where the communications operators would take 911 calls, and handle
all dispatching and radio communications for all law enforcement
agencies, fire departments, emergency medical services (EMS), and
other local government communications in the county. The same arrangement
was in practice at my job in Washington County, although at a smaller
scale. Kearney had a larger operation, and was known to have one
of the best of these centers in the state!
on duty at the sheriff’s office several weeks later, a message
came across the teletype from Kearney, requesting a telephone number
where I could be reached. I replied, and soon was speaking to their
Director of Communications, Hugh Rath. Mr. Rath told me that he
had an open position on his staff and had learned about my background
from one of his operators. He asked if I might be interested in
applying for the job. This was quite the opportunity on several
levels… It was a higher paying job, at a very prestigious
communications center at a location that I considered to be my home
town near many of my friends!
for the job before Mr. Rath, the City Manager, the Personnel Manager,
one of the Police Captains, and the Director of Emergency Management.
They were very impressed with my credentials in that I possessed
an FCC Radio License, had some formal law enforcement training,
and of particular interest, a news clipping
from the Blair newspaper about a commendation I had received while
working for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. They
asked me some questions about my knowledge of locations of various
places around Buffalo County, which proved to be no problem as I
had grown up in the area. A good deal of their questions centered
on whether or not Cindy and I had some sort of relationship…
They kept beating around the bush with, “How well do you
know Cindy?” or “How much time do you and Cindy
spend together?” Finally, Mr. Rath said, “Oh
heck! Are you and Cindy boyfriend and girlfriend?!” Once
I assured them that we had simply been high school classmates, everyone
in the room breathed a sigh of relief! I later learned the job opening
I was applying for was vacated by someone who had been involved
in some sort of on the job affair… By the time I arrived home
at my parent’s place near Omaha, I had a message to return
a telephone call to Mr. Rath where he formally offered me the job.
working for Kearney Emergency Center, I also worked part-time, as
Reserve Police Officer for the communities of Gibbon and Shelton,
the next few years, I devoted my efforts to my chosen career in
public safety communications and law enforcement. This meant in
order to move progressively up the ladder, I needed to be willing
to relocate. At this point, I ended up about forty-five miles east
of Kearney at Grand Island, Nebraska, working for the Hall County
Communications Division, known as GIEC. This period during my life
was extremely hard work. It seemed like all I did was work, and
money was very tight. In addition to working full time at GIEC,
I started working part time for the Wood River Police Department,
and moved to that town located about half way between Grand Island
and Kearney. From an expense perspective, this made it difficult
as I had to commute to Grand Island, but on the other hand, I was
closer to Kearney where I spent what little free time I had.
fall of 1982 I was enrolled in the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training
Center, also known as the Police Academy. This was a great experience!
By now I was adult enough to know that I should crack down and apply
myself to the task at hand. It was also allot of fun! My
classmates at the academy were truly a fine group of hard working,
decent individuals of very high integrity. These were exactly the
type of people that any community would want as police officers.
Nebraska Law Enforcement Basic, December 1982.
I'm the guy near front and center with the light blue tie.
long after graduation from the academy, I would be getting married,
and moved to Eastern Nebraska in 1983, back to Washington County
where I was appointed Chief of Police for the Village of Arlington,
Nebraska. I had a great partner that I worked with in Dale Bessey,
who was a native of the community. We shared a brand new 84 Ford
LTD Crown Victoria patrol car, which had a great, stock AM/FM Four
Speaker Stereo in the car. This was unusual for the time as you
were lucky if you got an AM radio in the patrol car. The kids in
the town that Dale and I were working thought we were nuts, as the
local cops had been known to cruse the streets with the windows
open, and the stereo cranked at full volume playing Jethro Tull’s
Aqua Lung or the Who, shouting “They’re All Wasted!”
In 1985, I advanced to a larger community in Douglas County; The
City of Valley, just outside of Omaha where I would spend the next
eight years behind the badge.
V114, Randal Schulze, Valley Police Department 1992
did some work for the City of Elkhorn, and work as a Private Investigator
before moving to Kansas City in 1994, where my last years in law
enforcement included Communications at the Lees Summit, (Missouri)
Police Department, and as an Officer for the Lake Lotawana, (Missouri)
Police Department until I left Law Enforcement for good in 1995.
a very good law enforcement officer, and was recognized via certificates
and commendations on more than a few occasions. While the work can
be exciting and intensely interesting, it’s not for the faint
of heart. To do it right, and to do it well, takes a considerable
amount of training, not only at the start, but throughout the entire
career. It takes a lot of time and dedication, and is a considerable
strain on any semblance of a normal family life. As a law enforcement
officer, you will be hurt or injured at some point, and if not careful,
or if you’re just unlucky you might even get killed. The injuries
you might endure are not just physical; some things can hurt you
down to your very soul. You’ll see the pain and suffering,
blood and carnage that most members of the public are protected
from. …And while it was your goal to make a difference in
the world, before long you come to realize that you’re lucky
if you helped maintain a status quo. I really don’t want to
sound cynical, as I am very proud of my years in law enforcement,
and I’m proud to admit that once a cop, always a cop. None
the less, a cold chill of fear ran down my back when any of my kids
said they might want to be a cop when they grew up!
1995, I started a cereer in Information Technology, and advanced
my way up in that field ever since. Today, I'm a Manager working
Purple Sage Law Enforcement