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The Journal Gazette

  • File Then-Police Chief Rusty York takes a turn as principal for a day at Nebraska Elementary School in 2005.  From  his  earliest  days  as  a  traffic  division officer, York – who retires as Fort Wayne’s public safety director this week – has had a good relationship with city schools.

  • Fort Wayne Community Schools' Security Director John Weicker speaks at his retirement party Wednesday afternoon at the Grile Administrative Center. Photo by Swikar Patel The Journal Gazette

Sunday, November 27, 2016 10:00 pm

School's always in

John H. Weicker

Soon after I became dean of boys at Northrop High School in 1978, I asked Capt. Jim Stahl of the Fort Wayne Police Department Traffic Division to recommend an officer to work part-time security at Northrop. I told Capt. Stahl that I was looking for an officer who was tough but at the same time cared about people. Someone who was honest, and a person of unquestionable character and integrity. A person who I could trust to be fair and consistent when helping me to enforce FWCS discipline rules and laws at Northrop. Capt. Stahl smiled and told me he knew of just such an officer, an officer who worked for him in the traffic division. That officer was Rusty York.

When Officer York started working for me that next week, FWCS high schools were only allotted three hours per day for "security time," and the schools did not even have access to two-way radios, let alone surveillance cameras, or to controlled access to the buildings. To say that we have come a long way would be a gross understatement.

My sole purpose during the 13 years I served at Northrop, then the 22 years that I was in charge of security at FWCS (until my retirement in 2013), was to try to do everything I could to provide parents, students and staff members with the safest, most secure learning environment humanly possible in those school buildings. Over those many years, York served as an integral part of that quest.

During his tenure as a FWPD officer, as a detective, a sergeant, and a captain, Rusty worked part-time for me during the school day and at extracurricular events. Upon his first retirement from the FWPD, he went to work for the FWCS Transportation Department until being asked by Mayor Graham Richard to return to the FWPD as chief of police in 2000. Then, of course, in 2013, he assumed his present position as director of public safety. During this time, York was directly involved in, and in many cases directly responsible for, the positive collaboration and relationship that exists today between the FWPD and FWCS.

Over the years, the positive effect that this relationship has had on the safety and security in our schools has not gone unnoticed by other law enforcement agencies and school corporations around the state and country. It has been viewed as a model for the benefits that can result from such a positive collaborative working relationship between schools and emergency responders and how they can benefit schools and their communities.

As Rusty’s final retirement date of Dec. 1 is fast approaching, I am confident that many stories will be told of the successes he has achieved during his long tenure as a public servant. However, in my humble opinion, one of his greatest accomplishments, one that has had perhaps the greatest effect on our community, is the positive atmosphere of sharing and collaboration that exists today among our schools, law-enforcement agencies and other emergency responder agencies in our city.

That relationship exists in great part because of Rusty York, and for that the community owes him a great deal of thanks!