Chief Bob Ronkoski is the Chief of Police and Public Safety Director at St. Charles Community College. Prior to joining SCC, he served for 20 years with the City of St. Ann Police Department and retired at the rank of Police Lieutenant. He was elected president of the Missouri Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (MACLEA) for 2011-2012, 1st Vice-President of the Missouri Peace Officers Association (MPOA) for 2012 and currently serves on the Board of Advisors for the Eastern Missouri Police Academy and the St. Louis Regional Traffic Safety Council. He is the board member of Cottleville-Weldon Spring Chamber.
Interview by Stephen Thompson, Ph.D.
Welcome to OpenBeast. Tell us about yourself?
I claim my hometown to be Brentwood, Missouri where I started kindergarten and graduated from High School, however I was an Army brat that was born in Heidelberg, Germany while my father was stationed there in the early 60’s. I have worked in the public safety profession since I was 18 years old when I started as a police dispatcher after high school. I worked my way up the ranks as a police officer and left my prior employment as a Police Lieutenant to become the Director of Public Safety and College Police Chief at St. Charles Community College in Cottleville. I have been married to the same beautiful woman for 31 years and we have raised three children, the youngest being 26 years old that lives in Manhattan and the other two are living here in the St. Louis area. I moved to Cottleville shortly after accepting my position at SCC and I enjoy being involved in the St. Charles County community. I have always considered myself to be a public servant helping people in their time of need. Some say I spread myself to thin by being involved in so many organizations, but I feel strong about volunteering and serving the community where I live and work.
As a Chief of Police at SCC what are your primary duties?
My title is Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police for the College. I oversee the operations of a department that is responsible for providing the safety, police and security services to the students, faculty and staff of the College. After the incident that occurred at Virginia Tech in 2007, the administration at SCC decided that there was a need to enhance the safety and security on the college campus. I was hired to carry out those enhancement measures by changing the department from a security staff to a police and security staff that would have a high level of training and professionalism. My goal was to be able to offer highly trained police officers that could work in an educational environment where they could properly handle any law enforcement issues that arise while still providing excellent safety and security services to everyone on campus. I do what most other department heads do on a daily basis, budgeting, scheduling, problem solving, supervising, recruiting and training of the public safety employees. I am also lucky enough to be able to teach two criminal justice college classes each year which I find to very rewarding.
Could you brief us on SCC community involvement and your role?
Our standard description of St. Charles Community College is “a public, comprehensive two-year community college with associate degrees and certificate programs in the arts, business, sciences and career-technical fields. SCC provides workforce training and community-based personal and professional development as well as cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities.” I personally feel that SCC is one of St. Charles County’s best assets. Everyone knows someone that has received an education and benefited from attending both credit and non-credit classes at the College. I see my role with the college is somewhat like an ambassador to the community. I stay connected to the business community and through non-profit service oriented organizations as well as network with other law enforcement, EMS and fire agencies to help keep our community safe.
Talk to us about your campaign for Alderman Ward Two Cottleville, Missouri.
Since moving to Cottleville I have become very involved in community activities. As a board member for the Cottleville Weldon Spring Chamber of Commerce I attend several meeting and events each month that promote the local businesses. I serve as a Commissioner on the City of Cottleville Planning and Zoning Commission and I enjoy public service. I plan to stay in Cottleville for many years to come and I would like to serve on the City Council an Alderman in Ward 2. Cottleville has become a much desired community to live and raise a family. We have many city services and our parks and trails are a real asset. I want to be part of helping to keep Cottleville on this path so that the residents can enjoy this community for many years to come.
So do you have any endorsements yet?
I made an attempt at this position in 2011 and there were several candidates running at that time. It’s extremely difficult to get the voters to turn out for a municipal election. The small number of votes were divided between 4 candidates for the position. I don’t know how many candidates will file this time around but hopefully it will be a plus that one of the other candidates from the last election, Eric Larson, has given me his endorsement for the election this coming April. I was also endorsed in the last election by the Eastern Missouri Fraternal Order of Police and the Tri-County Labor Legislative Club. I will be asking for their endorsement again this coming year.
What do you consider your greatest success thus far?
Having a long marriage and seeing all three children grow up and complete their Bachelor degrees while I also attended college and completed my Master’s degree. I was the first person in my family to have a college degree and I wanted my future generations to consider it as a minimum. My original goal in life that relates to my employment was to work my way up to Chief of Police. Now that I have obtained that, I will need to consider what my next goal should be.
Briefly tell us about your family.
My father had a full career in the military police and then as a municipal police officer for the City of Brentwood. He was a big influence in my life when it came to choosing my career. I grew up in Brentwood and I think that is why I like Cottleville so much. It’s that small town atmosphere that was so appealing to me. I had two sisters and two brothers and I was the youngest. I think I learned to do things the right way from watching my siblings make so many mistakes, I certainly didn’t want to repeat what they did. My father’s health started to fail him about the time I was ready to graduate from high school. I was basically on my own for financial support for college because he needed to quit working full time. I met my wife Pam while working at my first full-time job as a police dispatcher. We were married shortly after that and raised three children on a police officer’s pay. Thirty-one years later we are still together planning our next 31 years. None of our children wanted to get into police work, one works in graphic design, one has a teaching degree and the youngest works for a consulting firm in New York.
What are your leisure time activities?
Unfortunately my schedule stays pretty busy so there is much leisure time available but I love to travel to Florida and New York on a regular basis and I wanted to set a goal of visiting two new cities each year. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, see a Cardinal or Rams game and take my grandchildren for a ride on the Cottleville trails on our golf cart.
For more details about Chief Bob Ronkoski, visit his FaceBook page.