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ASU police chief to step down

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- After 31 years as a lawman, the last five-plus as chief of the Albany State University Police force, Roberson Brown is ready to ride off into the sunset.

With his new bride of four months at his side, Brown will do just that Monday when he officially steps down from a position he helped create to head north to the Raleigh, N.C., area and retirement.

"This is it; it's time," Brown said Monday morning as he announced his resignation. "I've put in my 31 years, and they've been very good, productive years. I've loved the job, but I don't expect to be coming back to it. I don't expect to work another day after Monday.

"My goal when I came here was to make the Albany State Police Department better than it was when I came. I think I've done that."

Indeed, ASU did not have a true police force when Brown arrived on campus in 2005 after a 24-year stint with the Miami Police Department. He restructured the university's "public safety" officers into a certified force, giving the campus police an extreme makeover that helped secure the university as one of the safest in the 35-member University System of Georgia.

"To reach the goal of changing the perception of our police department, we changed the name, the uniforms, the equipment ... everything about the force," Brown said. "We served under the motto 'Respect is earned, never deserved,' and we earned that respect by upgrading every facet of this department.

"We got new vehicles -- including ATVs to ride around the campus -- new weapons, upgraded our training, brought dispatch in-house, worked closely with other area law enforcement agencies. We upgraded officer pay from around $23,000 when I came to $30,000. Our force now has 160 cumulative years of law enforcement experience; so if a bad guy decides to come on this campus, he'll be in for a bad day."

Brown said the April 2007 attack on the Virginia Tech University campus during which a student shot and killed 32 people before killing himself opened his eyes to the needs for better campus safety.

"We created a new identity system for our students, faculty and staff, and we upgraded safety measures campuswide," he said. "We placed a security booth to check traffic coming on campus, and we placed a security camera that gets a picture of every driver's face and his license plate as he drives onto the campus. Pretty soon, we'll have 350 security cameras at strategic locations throughout the campus.

"None of this would have happened without the support of President (Everette) Freeman. He's been a tremendous supporter of upgrading our police force, and that will always be a part of his legacy."

Freeman was not immediately available for comment Monday, but officials in his office said he had not yet determined who, if anyone, will serve as interim chief of the ASU force while a search is conducted for a permanent replacement.

Brown, meanwhile, and his wife Tameka say they plan to spend a lot of their free time traveling. Tameka Brown, whose career in education included a period with the Dougherty County School system and with Albany State, has two young sons, Robert and Brandon Taylor, who are 11 and 9, respectively.

Roberson Brown's older son Rodney is already an officer with the Albany Police Department, while his son Trevor is a manager in the food industry. Trevor Brown recently moved to Albany and plans to follow in his father's and brother's footsteps and seek a career in law enforcement.

Roberson Brown said finding someone to fill his "size 15 shoes" is a job Freeman will undertake.

"Obviously, that's going to be up to the president, but I've made it clear I'll be available to assist if I'm needed," Brown said. "I'm certainly not going to speculate (about a replacement) at this time.

"Whoever it is, though, I expect them to move right in and pick up where I left off. I think the professionals on the Albany State force will make the transition a smooth one."

And if there's a need for a veteran lawman in the Raleigh area?

"No, man, I'm out," Brown, 57, laughed. "We're going to travel, raise our children, enjoy life. I've put my personal life on hold for a long time now, and I want to get to it while I'm still young enough to enjoy it.

"I'm with a beautiful woman who completes me. I walk away with no regrets."