This week has been a time to say goodbye. After serving in a position that has comprised most of his adult life, Rodney Collins has retired from the Sedalia Police Department and with that his role as a DARE officer for Sedalia School District 200 including Sacred Heart and St. Paul’s Lutheran schools.
Collins has been with the police department for almost 31 years, serving three and a half years as an animal control officer and 27 and a half years as a law enforcement officer.
For 25 of those years, Collins worked in the schools as a DARE officer, teaching students about their choices and the responsibility that comes with the choices one makes.
Even though Collins has retired from one job, he has begun his second career, which allows him to continue his first.
“I started three weeks ago as a security officer for the Sedalia School District here at the junior high,” Collins said. “I haven’t been here very long but when I heard about the opening and the opportunity presented itself I thought now was the right time.
“I still get to work with people and especially with the students,” Collins said. “”It just seemed like this is where I should be.”
Collins said that throughout his service with the police department they had always been very good to him and supportive of his work with DARE.
“I really enjoyed all my time with the department,” Collins said “They were always behind me and very positive with all my work with the DARE program.”
It is that work with the DARE program that is one of the reasons Collins wanted to apply for the job at the junior high.
“Two of the highlights from my years with the force were my time working as the DARE officer,” Collins said. “I think I was able to help the students and hopefully was a positive influence in their lives.
“I also had the chance to teach my sons (Ryan and Cody) in that role, which was cool,” Collins added.
Collins’ work with the DARE program led him to be elected as the Missouri President elect, president, and past president for the organization three years. He currently is the state treasurer for DARE, a position he will have until July.
His work with the program was one reason he was hired by the Sedalia School District 200.
“Rodney was very influential with his work as a DARE officer,” Assistant Superintendent Steve Triplett said. “He is well known and respected throughout the community for his work with the police department.
“We’re very fortunate to have him in the district because of his credentials through the department,” Triplett added. “Rodney has such high moral and ethical standards and we take pride in having those kinds of people on staff.”
SPD Chief John DeGonia agreed with Triplett’s assessment of Collins.
“Officer Collins was an exceptional employee,” DeGonia said. “He always has a pleasant attitude and was willing to help out and take on more to further his personal growth and the growth of the department.
“The school district is getting a great and dedicated employee,” DeGonia added.
As a security/attendance officer, Collins’ job description is not that much different than his role as an officer.
“I have a lot of contact with the students, learning where they are and where they aren’t,” Collins said. “I have a lot of supervision roles with this job including the lunch shifts and the morning and afternoon bus duty and events in the evening as well.
“I know I have walked a lot in the past few weeks; I took 95,694 steps last week alone and did 43.88 miles according to my Fitbit,” Collins said with a laugh. “It’s good for me though.”
Collins commented upon some other highlights of his time with the police department.
“I saved three lives during my time at the police department because I was able to perform CPR,” he said. “You don’t forget something like that.
“I also remember that I was fortunate enough to be sworn in by my mom (former Sedalia City Clerk Shirley Collins),” Collins added. “That is a special memory too.”
The new memories of working with people are what Collins said he is most looking forward to with his new job.
“This job is somewhat the same, but different,” Collins said. “Some of these kids I worked with when they were in the DARE program and now I have the chance to continue in that work.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484