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Brian Roedl

Big Fish, Small Pond

By Barry Engelhardt

“It’s about bridging the gap between the kids of the community and the police department."

Vandalia School Resource Officer (SRO) Brian Roedl may be new to his role working within the school system, but his diverse experience is unprecedented. From a Vandalia class of 2001 graduate to an Embassy Security Officer to a Federal Prison Guard, his long and winding journey has allowed him to spend time on several continents and gain valuable criminal justice experience from various angles before returning home.

Brian shares that he moved from Altamont to St. Elmo in junior high but ultimately transitioned to Vandalia his freshman year, graduating as a Vandal. “We slowly kept moving west, but we planted our roots here,” shares Brian with a smile.

After high school, Brian enrolled in Kaskaskia Community College, but as he was settling into college, he watched on television as two planes brought down the World Trade Center on September 11th, and his priorities suddenly shifted.

“I think everybody’s mentalities kind of changed a bit,” says Brian before adding, “Being a young, nineteen-year-old kid, I thought, I got to go out and save the world. So, I went into the Marine Corps.”

Brian was part of the invasion of Iraq. While initially working as a communications specialist, networking computer and data systems, he eventually applied to be a Marine Security Guard. Brian shares that approximately one thousand Marines applied for the slots, with one-hundred-twenty selected and eighty graduating from this highly coveted position. Brian was among those few Marines. After completing the selection and training process, Brian provided security to multiple US Embassies, including those in South Africa, Angola, and Nepal, often working hand-in-hand with the Secret Service, FBI, and multiple diplomatic security services.

After five-and-a-half years in the Marines, Brian transitioned back into college, enrolling at SIU-Carbondale. While Brian enjoyed college, he quickly realized that his time in the Marines had changed him, often feeling slightly out of place. This feeling created a slight void that transitioning into law enforcement helped eliminate.

“I got an opportunity to work with the Greenville police department as a dispatcher and to do some patrolling. Once I started dispatching, I loved it. There was a brotherhood. The blue goldfish felt like he was in a pool of blue goldfish again,” says Brian.

Brian spent years chasing a full-time career in law enforcement, sharing that due to the recession, many police districts were cash-strapped and cut back on hiring. He responded by going all in, finding sponsorship, and personally paying his way through the police academy to become a more attractive candidate. It paid off. Brian went from policing at St. Elmo, to Greenville, and to Vandalia, where he worked the road for ten years before accepting the School Resource Officer position.

“Before COVID happened, the SRO position was something that was dear to my heart because I felt like it was really needed,” says Brian. “This is like a village. When you think about the population concentrated in an area for extended periods, you naturally need security. When you think about the most vulnerable populations, it’s the elderly, infirm, and our kids.”

Brian considers his first days walking the halls of the Vandalia school district as a day-to-day learning experience, sharing that the role isn’t just about providing security but also providing mentorship. “It’s about bridging the gap between the kids of the community and the police department,” concludes Brian.

Brian says everyone, from the administration to the police department, has come together to prioritize establishing an SRO position within the school system, adding, “We have a good sense of volunteerism around here. I think that helps.” For our part, we’re glad Brian is here. And we’re proud to have such an accomplished Vandal alumnus looking out for our current, younger Vandals.

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