- Associated Press - Sunday, November 12, 2017

GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) - When Fred Randle was growing up, his role models were three Cleveland police officers who were professional, youth friendly and passionate about their jobs.

“I always wanted to be able to help people, and growing up I had Floyd Pope, Bill Quinton and Ollie White,” Randle said. “They were in the law enforcement field, and they were the people that kind of inspired me to that road and follow in their footsteps.”

As a teenager, Randle, now 45, began his career as a bus driver - and later a truck driver - transporting the kids in his neighborhood to and from school in a school bus.

After high school, his parents encouraged him to either get a job or go to college, so he went to work. At 21, he moved to Greenwood to pursue his dream of working in law enforcement as a corrections officer for the Delta Correctional Facility.

“It was great. It was just a normal job,” Randle said. “Every job has rules and regulations. You either follow them, or you don’t follow them.”

Randle said as a young man it wasn’t intimidating to work as a corrections officer, but it was about handling the job right.

“It is all about treating people like you want to be treated,” Randle said. “A lot of people look at prison or the jail as a bad place, but they are human, too.”

After working as a corrections officer, Randle spent a brief period as a patrolman for the Greenwood and Moorhead police departments and as a Leflore County deputy sheriff.

His passion for emergency management and disaster readiness developed when he was a volunteer, while working full time with the Sheriff’s Department. He volunteered for the Greenwood-Leflore Emergency Management Agency for 12 years.

“I got involved in emergency management, and I liked what I was doing,” Randle said. “I’ve seen a need for Leflore County to grow and to get into the preparation field. I took that under my wings being a volunteer. I wanted to push further that option for Leflore County to be storm ready or any kind of disaster that may come.”

He was promoted to sergeant at the Sheriff’s Department, and in 2013 he was appointed director of Greenwood-Leflore Emergency Management Agency. He now works part time as a sergeant.

Sheriff Ricky Banks said Randle has the ability to listen and learn and has a lot of experience. He also has made connections statewide, “meeting the right people and getting to know them personally,” Banks said.

When disaster strikes, Randle is the person they call, he said.

Getting people to understand how and when to prepare is a difficult part of emergency management, and Randle said it is also a very important part of being director.

“It is not an easy job. You have to deal with so much training to get the support to train and to do your job,” Randle said. “The ability to understand and to get the people to understand you know how to do your job, and that you are not going to steer them into the wrong direction.”

Although it is sometimes difficult, Randle said enjoys helping others.

His first disaster in his executive title was a train derailment near Minter City. He said he had felt prepared to handle the situation.

“It was pretty much hands on and take care of business,” he said. “That was my approach. Make everybody safe. Return everything back to normal as we can in a safe manner.”

Now as a seasoned director, Randle has worked through several disasters such as crop duster and aviation plane crashes and floods.

He said the military KC-130 plane crash in July was the worst disaster he has had to deal with.

“None of them have really been difficult that it affects me to a point, but this last plane crash it did affect me,”?Randle said. “We lost 16 servicemen; that was the most heavy one of them all.”

Randle is also a member of a statewide group, the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security force protection unit in the law enforcement division. The 100 or so members oversee and respond to disasters such as hurricanes or tornadoes across the state.

Dorothy C. Ivory, deputy director and officer manager for Greenwood-Leflore Emergency Management Agency, said she has enjoyed working with Randle. She said he stays very busy with both of his positions but always manages to keep up with emergency management.

Although Randle spends a majority of his time working through disasters and saving lives, his down time is a bit more relaxed. He spends as much time as he can with his family, especially his 6-year-old son, Trenton.

Randle said his son has never gone out on the job with him but Trenton is very curious about what he does in emergency management.

“He watches the news. We discuss a lot of things that I do,” Randle said. “He wants to know what I do day to day. At 6 years old, he wants to do what his dad is doing right now. He wants to follow in the same footsteps.”

Randle also met his wife, Moranda, the E-911 coordinator for the Sheriff’s Department, while they were both working there.

In his spare time, Randle enjoys fishing, riding motorcycles and traveling.

“Growing up, my dad had a motorcycle, and I used to sneak and ride it when he would go out of town,”?he said. “I’d ride up and down the road. I fell in love with it and eventually bought one, a Harley-Davidson.”

Fishing was also a hobby that ran in Randle’s family; he would often go with his grandmother and uncle when he was younger. Now it is a stress reliever, he said.

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Information from: The Greenwood Commonwealth, http://www.gwcommonwealth.com

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