On patrol: Officer Richards shares career story


Dayna Ung

School Resource Officer, Kim Richards, works to maintain safety at our school.

Dayna Ung, Staff Reporter

She strolled down the empty halls, admiring the wall filled with colleges the students had decided to go to. Everyone was in class except for the few taking a trip to the bathroom or enjoying an off period. As she stared at the hope-filled wall, a feeling of pride came unto her for the accomplishments of the students here.

Student Resource Officer, Kim Richards, has been in law enforcement for 22 years, and has worked at Vandegrift for three and a half years. She was hired by Austin Park Police in 1999 and has been in positions such as bike patrol, lake patrol, street patrol, dive team and now as an SRO at Vandegrift.

“As the school resource officer, one of my biggest motivations is definitely the kids,” Richards said. “But last year just about killed me, you know, I had hardly any students here, nobody to talk to, and the students here make my job absolutely amazing. I’ve been in law enforcement for 22 years and I wish I would have started doing this 21 and a half years ago. This is my favorite position ever.”

Richards said her dad was a Texas State Trooper for 10 years and the governor’s bodyguard for 18 years. She said that seeing her dad as a police officer made her decide to be one too.

“I was about two to three years old when I knew I wanted to become a police officer,” Richards said. “My dad would come home with his DPS car parked in the front driveway, and he’d come in with his uniform and all of his shiny gear and, even that young, I remember, that’s what I wanted to do.”

Aside from her dad being a police officer, she said both her parents and grandparents were extremely influential in her life because they impressed upon her character traits such as hard work and the ability to own up to mistakes. One of the most important things Richars learned was patience and empathy, and she said this has helped her be successful as a police officer.

“As an officer, you have to kind of put yourself into the position of the person that you’re dealing with,” Richards said. “You may not have ever experienced what they’re going through, but if you can at least try, and put yourself with where they are in the situation that they’re in at that exact moment in time, it helps you kind of get through it and put yourself in that person’s shoes rather than just going off of a checklist.”

Richards said when she thinks of who has supported her, the first thing on her mind is everybody. From her family and friends, to the people on the streets, or the students who come up to talk to her, they have all supported her in some way, especially when things were much harsher on police officers.

“It was really hard when all of the stuff that was being said and all of the hatred, and you know, being kind of lumped in when I know that the way that I act, and the way that I treat people is always with respect and kindness,” Richards said. “To be lumped in and ostracized when I know that that is not who I am was really hurtful. And it was very very difficult knowing officers were getting killed, shot in their patrol cars while they were sitting there writing a report. So there were some scary times when you don’t know if you’re going to be driving down the road in your patrol car and someone’s going to drive next to you and shoot you just because of the badge that you wear.”

Richards advises aspiring police officers to come visit her and take advantage of the opportunities they have in high school and college. She said she didn’t start out in a law enforcement career because the military wouldn’t take her because she was missing two trigger fingers from birth.

“After being rejected from the military, I was lost,” Richards said. “I truly didn’t know what I wanted to do so I tried several different things, and I had some great adventures. Eventually, I was working at a horse ranch down on Spicewood Springs Road, and there was a collision that was in front of the horse ranch. Well, because I couldn’t be in law enforcement, whenever something happened that was close enough, I would go to the scene and kind of live vicariously through the officers or the paramedics that were there. On this particular time when I went down there I noticed that the officer working was also missing fingers. As soon as I saw that, I realized that my dream could come true.”

Richards said that even though there were a few setbacks in her career, and the job can be hard sometimes, it is completely worth it. She said she loves her job and being at Vandegrift and surrounded by the students has been her favorite part of the job.

“It’s a tough job,” Richards said. “But if you truly want to do it, you can do it. It is an absolutely rewarding job, but it also is a very tough job. I absolutely love what I do, I can’t see doing anything else.”