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Alumnus achieves ambition, sets example by faith

After graduating from high school, many FC graduates move on to use their knowledge to make an impact in society. Alumnus Sergeant R. Paul Brown, ’83, decided to make his impact through the police force.

Brown notes that he had always been intrigued at the thought of joining the police force.

“I was interested as a child and later found out that my father wanted to be a trooper when he lived in Minnesota, but his mother wanted him to be a minister,” Brown said. “He later joined the Marine Corps and went into banking. My interest was later rekindled in college when I changed my major at least four times. I remember catching pitchers in the bull pen at FCC and watching the police academy cadets through the fence next door. I thought, ‘I can do that.’ I later changed my major to criminology after taking some police reserve courses at the academy.”

After joining the police force, Brown decided he wanted to be a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team. Though he had to wait for a number of years before joining the team, Brown persisted in achieving the position he aspired to.

“I knew the day I got hired that I wanted to be a member of the SWAT team,” Brown said. “The problem was that I was going to have to wait at least five years. So I put my head down, worked hard and attended several tactical courses. I was also a member of the Southwest Tactical Team before being selected.”

Though originally told that he would have to wait five years before joining the SWAT team, Brown was able to join sooner than he thought.

“I made SWAT after just three years on the job, and we were a full time team called the Violent Crime Suppression Unit, VCSU,” Brown said. “I was fortunate that I made the team as an entry team member and the breacher. Because we were full time SWAT, we worked in a patrol setting in patrol vehicles. The difference was we wore all of our tactical gear and weapons as we focused on the most violent parts of the city. We also responded to all shooting calls and business robberies.”

Getting promoted to a higher position on his SWAT team helped him prepare for the responsibilities and challenges of being a Sergeant.

“During my time on the team, there were two of us that were chosen to act as the Department Armorer and Department Range-master for a short time,” Brown said. “This position opened the door to becoming the Range Coordinator (Department Rangemaster/Armorer) and assigned to the Training Unit. While assigned to this position as an officer, I was supervising three civilian employees. This was an excellent position to have leading up to promoting to Sergeant in 2002.”

Brown enjoyed his time as part of SWAT and notes that he felt part of a team accomplishing something greater than he could have done individually.

“The camaraderie is something I enjoy and miss since leaving SWAT,” Brown said. “It reminds me a lot of playing sports, especially college athletics. It is a feeling of being part of something greater. A great example from a Christian perspective is the Kingdom of God. It is awesome to see his people work together for his Kingdom. We are so much more effective if we work together.”

Brown’s Christian faith has helped him get through difficult situations that might have otherwise seemed too challenging.

“My faith in Christ as the son of God allows me to focus on dangerous situations without much worry,” Brown said. “I just give everything to God and ask for His will, not mine. I believe he placed me here in Fresno, and I will stay until he calls me away. It is amazing what you can deal with when you give all your cares and worries to God. I remember the quote I used to have above my phone (old style) in college: Let Go, Let God. It is a constant reminder that God wants us to give him our cares and worries.”

Brown remembers a situation he encountered when he first became a police officer. He and the other officers with him were given the task of arresting a violent man.

“Early in my career I was working patrol in the south end of town,” Brown said. “On patrol we receive daily briefings that tell us who is wanted for various crimes. On this particular day there was a subject wanted for homicide, and there was information that he would not go back to prison alive. We were told that he would ?shoot it out? with the police.”

The situation became interesting when Brown was forced to face the criminal alone.

“During the shift we received information that the subject was seen in a particular neighborhood,” Brown said. “Several units started to flood the area. That night I was a solo unit. I decided to get out of my patrol vehicle and keep an eye on a particular alleyway. I observed some movement in the alley and approached. It turned out to be the subject wanted for homicide and it was just me and him in the alley. Very little was said, mostly me with gun in hand ordering him to get on the ground and advising other units that I located the subject.”

Brown comments that the man’s reaction to his approach was very surprising.

“The interesting thing was that he gave up without incident and said very little,” Brown said. “It was one of the easiest arrests in my career. When things calmed down I asked the subject why he didn?t fight with me. He looked at me with a stunned look on his face and said, ‘Are you kidding me? I wouldn?t have had a chance.’ I told him, ‘Thanks for the compliment, but you?re a big guy; you don?t think you would have had a chance against me?’ He replied, ‘No, not you. It was the other two officers that were with you; they were huge.’ I told him that I was alone and he laughed, ‘Quit playing with me man and take me to jail.’?

Brown notes that this experience has been one that he’s never been able to forget, because God’s hand in the situation was so clear. Brown takes advantages of opportunities in his job to share his faith with others.

“I didn?t ask him anymore questions about the incident, but that is something that I will never forget,” Brown said. “When I am working, especially in patrol, I try to give it to God. There have been times I have been able to share my faith with suspects on the way to jail. There have been times I have been able to stay late on a call, on my own time, to help and share as well. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a spiritual battle taking place out there that we don?t see. I know God was with me that night, and if I have to name it, those were a couple of his angels watching over me.”

Brown is currently the Operations Sergeant for the Southwest Policing District, which is mainly an administrative position.

“My position is primarily administrative,” Brown said. “I currently directly supervise the Downtown Policing Unit which consists of six officers that ride police Trek bicycles in the downtown area. I also have one officer who is assigned to patrol some of the public housing. My primary function is administrative in nature and to make sure the building and vehicles stay functioning. I also cover dayshift patrol sergeant when we have vacancies.”

Sergeant Tim Hahn, a coworker of Brown since ’93, believes Brown’s hard work and genuine care for others make him a good example for the other officers.

“He’s a very Godly and honorable man and a good leader and supervisor,” Hahn said. “I’ve worked with him for many years and have come to find that he’s a model of consistency. He doesn’t try to outwardly portray himself in a different way than who he actually is. With him, what you see is what you get.”

Brown and Hahn have been friends for 17 years, and Hahn comments that Brown sticks to what he believes in and is easy to trust.

“When I first met Brown, I thought he was very opinionated,” Hahn said. “He doesn’t vary from what he believes in. The thing that I really appreciate about Brown is that he’s the type of guy who will never stab you in the back. You talk to him about something and he keeps it quiet; he’s a person of his word. He always adheres to the rules and is very trustworthy. He’s also great at mentoring and teaching other officers.”

Hahn believes that he and Brown think through situations similarly, and Hahn enjoys working with Brown.

Alumni Director Gary Schultz believes Brown has always set an example for others through his actions rather than with his words.

Editor’s note: Check back soon for more photos in the slideshow.

“We’ve been in a few tactical situations together,” Hahn said. “We’ve also had administrative issues that we’ve had to work through together. We think a lot alike. Brown doesn’t shy away from anything and when I’m in difficult situations, it’s him I want by my side.”

“He was quiet in high school,” Schultz said. “I didn?t see him as an outgoing kind of person; he was more of a laidback person. He?s the kind of guy that got things done but didn’t like to get in front of everybody to show them how to do it. He showed by example.”

Schultz believes Brown continues to influence others by example but has become more of a leader with his current position.

“After he left, he joined the police force and then later became part of SWAT,” Schultz said. “I?ve talked to him often about his job; it?s a tough job. He works in the toughest part of Fresno with the worst people. He?s really become a successful protector of our community. He?s a real leader, but I think he does it more with his life than he does it with his words. Some people can talk a lot and not say anything and then others hardly say anything but talk a lot with what they do.”

For more features, read the Dec. 6 article, Hierholzer designs costumes, dedicates time.

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