Soon enough, Sergeant Deborah Randol will have to retire.
At KCPD, it’s mandatory for officers after 35 years of service or age 65. Randol will reach both marks almost simultaneously.
She could retire now, but “I love coming to work,” Randol said. “The comradery makes it a great environment.”
In middle school, Randol would listen to her neighbors, officers, tell stories. The Springfield, Mo., native wanted to be an officer, but high school wrapped up, and Randol found herself in healthcare. Years passed, and when her roommate, a Kansas City native, moved back home, Randol tagged along. Except this time, at 29, she leap into her faith.
“I just wanted to give policing a chance because it was always in my heart to do,” Randol said. “I got in and have loved every minute since.”
The action began right away. Months after graduating from the police academy in 1991, Randol pulled over a speeder. A man jumped out the vehicle shouting, “My wife’s having a baby!” Randol thought, “Oh God,” trying to remember the black and white video on childbirth she watched at the academy.
“I saw the cord around the baby’s neck,” Randol recalled. “I reached and pulled it away. He wasn’t breathing, so I swatted his butt a little bit, cleaned his mouth and nose, and he took a deep breath!”
Over three decades, Randol has treasured the supervisor role where she could impact lives and careers. As a Field Training Officer (FTO), Randol taught rookie officers on patrol. In 2002, she earned a promotion to sergeant, working various assignments before transferring to Street Narcotics. Then in 2013, when the Accident Investigation Unit needed a strong supervisor, Randol got the call.
As its sergeant, Randol oversees crash scenes with serious, life-threatening, or fatal injuries. She ensures crash investigators, detectives, the DUI Squad, and all needed, do their job. The nature of her role means Randol, hundreds of times, unfortunately, has knocked on doors to inform people their loved ones passed away in a crash.
“I pick up personal items from the scene, and I make sure the family get them,” Randol explained. “If they don’t want to see the vehicle, I go to the tow lot, get everything out of the car and give it to the family. If they want to see the car, I let them see it. Sometimes they want to touch it. Sometimes they want to pray. Whatever they need to do, I walk them through that. If there’s a legal process, I make sure the families understand our process.”
Randol watching over families needing guidance is no surprise. It’s her trademark. Her willingness to lead others earned her the “Mama Bear” nickname from co-workers. And it’s these relationships with officers that will make it hard to walk away whenever the time comes.
“Once I get done, I have two grandbabies that are the light of my life,” smiled Randol. “I’ll just go spend time with them. When I retire, I’m just going to be Nana to them.”