Friday Feature: Darian Brown, Midway SSO

Darian Brown is in his first year as an SSO (school safety officer) at Midway Elementary after a 27-year law enforcement career that included 22 years with the Department of Homeland Security.  

“It was a good career, but it was time to retire. It was a stressful job.” 

During his time with Homeland Security, Brown worked with ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) and homeland security investigations and held a variety of roles from being head of firearm training to running the federal court program.  

“In my last seven years before retiring at the end of 2019, I ran a fugitive unit where I worked with the international police federation to track down foreign born criminals. The section I was in was with human rights violators in other countries that fled to the US.”  

His career took him to 30-40 different countries as he returned individuals to their home country.  

“I got to see a lot of the world. And that’s what I tell a lot of students – go see the world. I loved traveling. Austria was my favorite, but you also got to see how others live and many times I was always glad to come back to the US, especially after being on the streets in Bangladesh or in India.” 

Brown had never planned to go into law enforcement. The one thing he always wanted to do was go into the Air Force after graduating from college, which he did.  

“When I was going into the Air Force, I had a health and wellness background and was planning on a healthcare administration track, but when I got a piece of paper with three choices of career fields, I saw law enforcement and at the last minute asked if I could change it.” 

Brown was with the Air Force Security Forces for five years, living in Panama for three of those years. He also spent a year as a deputy sheriff in Idaho for a year after his time with the Air Force.  

While he’s gone from dealing with criminals to working with some of the district’s youngest learners, Brown said there is more crossover than one might think.  

“Dealing with groups of people and being able to diffuse situations and deal with conflict resolution. I’m also still talking to people every day and working with families, just in a different setting.” 

It’s also been a great change of pace for Brown, who always said when he retired, he wasn’t going to have a job where he’d have a phone or tablet, where he’d get calls or messages 24/7, which was the case with Homeland Security. 

“Here I can be concerned about what’s going on today and when the bell rings, I get to go home.”  

Brown was a substitute teacher in the Belleville School District last year, and at one point, even spent two weeks in a kindergarten classroom, but wanted to switch things up this year, which brought him too Midway.  

 “Everyone at Midway has been so welcoming. I enjoy the family atmosphere here and being able to support the teachers and staff when they need it. I love environments conducive to learning.”