Brooks graduates from Southern Police Institute

Published 10:06 pm Monday, May 23, 2011

Suffolk Police Capt. John Brooks always wanted to go into law enforcement.

He longed to follow in the footsteps of his father, who retired from the Chesapeake Police Department, since he was a boy.

“I always knew it was what I was going to do,” Brooks said.

Suffolk Police Capt. John Brooks recently graduated from the Southern Police Institute. Attending the rigorous 14-week school was a lifelong goal for him, as his father also was a graduate of the course.

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He began working for the Suffolk Police Department as a patrol officer 19 years ago, after time spent in the military police and the Portsmouth sheriff’s office.

He has since worked his way up to captain, helping supervise all the administrative functions of the Suffolk Police Department.

But he also had another lifelong goal, also in emulation of his father — to graduate from the Southern Police Institute.

He achieved that earlier this month, when he was among 40 law enforcement officers who graduated from the 125th session of the rigorous program at the University of Louisville.

Brooks came to the Suffolk Police Department on the recommendation of his father, Eugene Brooks.

“My dad said this is the place to go,” he said. “Obviously, he was right.”

Besides his desire to continue serving in the same way as his father, Brooks said he chose law enforcement because he could make a difference.

“How else can you really make an impact,” he said. “What else can you do that affects so many people? I really think it’s a very noble profession.”

Brooks grew up hearing about the Southern Police Institute and how it had affected the career of his father, who died about 10 years ago. The elder Brooks had attended the 48th session of the course.

“Family vacations were the annual SPI retraining conferences,” Brooks said. “It was my biggest lifelong goal to be able to attend SPI.”

When his father died, Brooks took possession of his father’s SPI ring, but wouldn’t wear it until he graduated from the course himself.

The Administrative Officers Course is part of the Department of Justice Administration in the College of Arts and Sciences at the university.

The course offers law enforcement officers the chance to gain instruction in law enforcement issues, problem-solving and administrative law.

“You’re looking at the best practices of agencies across the country,” Brooks said. “They face a lot of the same problems we do. You kind of take the best of all of it and bring it back.”

Brooks called the course “the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life.” It was 14 weeks of nearly-nonstop work, which included a 40-page research paper and several smaller papers. He also had to contend with the difficulty of being away from his family — wife Tayloe and children Ryan, Laura and Cameron.

But there were some fun moments, like the trip to the Kentucky Derby and the tour of the Louisville Slugger manufacturing facility.

Brooks said he is glad to be back in Suffolk and able to apply the lessons he learned at the institute.

“I really want to thank Chief Bennett for giving me the opportunity,” Brooks said.

Brooks’ tuition for the school was paid by a scholarship from the Virginia Alumni Association of SPI. He has since enrolled in the University of Louisville to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in leadership and organizational development.