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Rodney Brewer teaches criminal justice students at the University of Louisville that a police officer's primary responsibility is serving the public. Sometimes, officers lose sight of that mission.
But public servants are heroes everyday, he said. And Brewer, 50, said there's nothing more rewarding than working with these heroes.
Brewer returns to the police force Tuesday when he's sworn-in as commissioner of the Kentucky State Police. Governor-elect Steve Beshear appointed him to the post.
"Kentucky State Police has always been my passion, so I welcomed it," Brewer said.
As police commissioner, he will oversee KSP's narcotics, special investigations and strategic planning divisions.
He said he is interested in bringing new technology to KSP, including a network system to connect KSP posts throughout the state, and plans to expand recruitment and improve the police academy. He will also coordinate security for Beshear and Dan Mongiardo, the state's lieutenant governor-elect.
The Ballardsville resident has achieved every merit ranking in his 26 years working with KSP. His broad range of experience, from working with media as a KSP spokesman to organizing state drug control initiatives, has made him a 'jack of all trades' in the police force, he said.
He will direct the 'mission and vision' of KSP, he said, while managing the agency's $140 million budget.
"Our training is incredible but we need to start exploring opportunities for a new training academy," Brewer said. "Recruitment is a huge challenge with all agencies across the country now."
Brewer started his career as a city officer in Jefferson County after graduating from U of L with a bachelor's degree in police administration in 1979.
He earned his master's degree in criminal justice from the U of L in 1993.
Brewer served as deputy commissioner for KSP from 2000 to 2004, assisting the state police commissioner in planning the budget and managing the officers of KSP.
KSP employs 1,800 officers, and about 1,000 of those are sworn officers in uniform. The other 800 are civilian officers fulfilling administrative duties.
Brewer met Beshear while he provided security during his term as lieutenant governor, 1984-88.
"He knows my quality of work, my work ethic and my leadership ability," Brewer said.
In a press release, Beshear said Brewer is a solid choice to serve as commissioner due to his wealth of experience and his personal and professional integrity.
"He has spent decades of his life as a defender of justice and I am confident he will serve the people of our Commonwealth well," the press release said.
Brewer said he believes successful police officers possess a sense of humor, compassion and common sense.
Brewer lives with his wife, Dana, in Ballardsville. They attend Northeast Christian Church. Their children, Kelly and Barrett, attend U of L. Brewer said he enjoys the outdoors and photography in his spare time.
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