30 years on state police force define campus officer’s career

Annie Matheis, News editor

He searched through zero-visibility water for dead bodies, trained other officers on how to use a Breathalyzer and eradicated millions of dollars of marijuana.
For 30 years, campus police officer Dennis Randall was a state police officer in northeast Missouri. He was a water patrol officer, a district supervisor, a public information officer and a member of the underwater search and rescue team.
As a member of the underwater rescue team, he recovered between 200-250 dead bodies.
“The first time I did it, it was scary,” Randall said. “The water that we dove in had zero-visibility; you couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face, so you had to do everything by feel.”
Randall said he had to put himself in a different mindset when he would recover bodies.
“You’re down on the bottom of a lake, river, farmer’s pond or wherever, and you’re looking for a body,” Randall said. “So, psychologically that can really get to you. I put my mindset as that the person’s soul has gone to wherever you personally believe they go, just the cavity is still here of the person.”
To recover the bodies, Randall said he had to go underwater and feel around until he felt something that seemed like a body, grab it and bring it to the surface.
“You get hardened as an officer,” Randall said. “It’s never easy; it’s always difficult, because you are recovering a human being — a person that once was alive.”
While a state police officer, Randall was also in charge of the maintenance and training of other officers on Breathalyzer usage.
Randall said he would make the officers run Breathalyzer tests. The test was composed of a stimulator that was set to .08, the legal minimum for intoxication. The stimulator would blow into the machine itself, giving a reading to determine that the machine is operating correctly.
Randall said he enjoyed the maintenance and repairs side of the job.
“I got to learn a lot about the machines, how they operated and how to fix them if they were broken,” Randall said. “That part of it was pretty fun, because you got into a lot of technical, scientific jargon.”
During his time as a state police officer, Randall helped destroy marijuana fields. In one of his biggest eradications, with the help of other officers, he eliminated an estimated $5 million worth of marijuana.
In a different eradication, the highway patrol found a farmer who had planted marijuana all the way along a 2-mile fence line.
“So we had to go through there, pull it, burn it, pour kerosene on it, kill it,” Randall said. “Then it starts to rot and is no good.”
Randall said this part was not his favorite aspect of the job.
“It was hard work, but you were getting an illegal substance off of the street, so that part felt good,” Randall said. “It wasn’t like you were sitting on a combine picking corn, where the machine is doing the work. You’re doing the work. You’re pulling the marijuana plants out, you’re going down the line spraying it with kerosene and you’re helping dig the holes to bury it in.”
After retiring from his job as a state police officer, Randall took a year off, and then came to BV as a campus officer in 2005.
A campus officer is a police officer that is assigned to a school, with the primary goal of making sure the students have a safe learning environment.
“Here in the school, I am here for the students,” Randall said. “I am here to make sure that they are safe. They come to Officer Braden and myself, and the kids talk to us about anything and everything. We are not only police officers in the school, but we are also counselors.”
The officers maintain a safe learning environment by being in the school for police functions, guest-speaking in classrooms and talking to the students.
“As a school resource officer at Blue Valley High School, I do more giving advice and guest-speaking in classrooms than I do police work,” SRO Ken Braden said. “That’s a good thing. At some places, they are so busy doing police stuff that they don’t have time to get to know the young people.”
Randall said building that relationship with the kids is the most rewarding part of his job.
“I am here, and I get to see you guys grow up, from squirrely freshmen to mature, young men and women when you graduate,” Randall said. “I see most [students] probably more than their parents see them, because I spend all day in the school with them.”