Cobb County School District police officer Phil Bradford’s service to this country began long before the students he serves and protects were even born.
Bradford, a familiar face to those who attend Cobb County School Board meetings, served more than two decades in the U.S. Army, the school district said. He was recognized by the school district for his service on Veterans Day.
Bradford was a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, earning the Ranger and Special Forces tabs. He completed U.S. Army Airborne school and earned the Army’s master parachutist badge, the district said.
If that isn’t impressive enough, Bradford also earned foreign jump wings from armies in Nigeria, Italy, Egypt and Australia.
Bradford served in the U.S. Army from June 1974 to September 1996 before retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He was presented with the Legion of Merit award by the commanding general of the U.S. Third Army for his service, the school district said.
After retiring from the Army, Bradford joined the Cobb County Police Department where he served until August 2015.
“I’ve always been blessed to find quality organizations where I can further the safety and security mindset, whether it is the Army, the county police, or now the school district,” he said.
While with Cobb police, Bradford served as the department’s liaison with the county Emergency Management Agency where he worked on issues related to homeland security. He used that skill set to establish emergency response plans for the Cobb County School District.
He eventually signed on to the Cobb County School District as a police officer in September 2015. For the past four years, Bradford has built relationships with students “so they are not afraid to go to a police officer when they need help,” the school district said.
“I look forward to coming to work every day. I say that because of the people we have working here, in the central office,” Bradford said. “These people work hard, they are dedicated, they are committed, and they do the best job they can to support those who are doing the frontline work of teaching kids.”
Bradford’s tenure with Cobb schools has been defined by his efforts to enhance security measures for students, teachers and staff.
When the system was the first in Georgia to test AlertPoint, a crisis management system, Bradford was there to evaluate the system and train district staff on how to use it.
He also helped the system roll out its SafeSchools Alert Tip Line, which allows Cobb students, faculty, staff and parents to report safety concerns to the district.
Bradford, along with fellow Cobb schools officer and military veteran Harold Saxton, also make sure schools are prepared for emergencies by coordinating unannounced code red drills.
Both officers use the drills to teach staff how to keep school campuses safe and secure during emergencies.
“It is a distinct advantage for any organization to hire veterans because they have been tested, they have served, and they understand [how to be] a member of a team,” Bradford said. “From the perspective of a veteran, I understand the value of teamwork.”
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