Courage to Start, Discipline to Finish
Recent PRA Coordinator and UCC alum Brad O'Dell shares what lead him to become a Sergeant and PIO with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department.
ROSEBURG, Oregon – There’s no shortage of community commitment for Brad O’Dell. Growing up, it was his goal to become a paramedic.
“I’ve always had an interest in helping people,” he said. “But I made the decision to move into law enforcement while I worked as a communications officer in Roseburg’s 911 call center.”
Brad enjoyed being a police dispatcher, but wanted to do more and have more of an impact. In 2007, he chose to pursue his passion and transferred to patrol with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department. In the years since, he has worked his way up the chain.
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While protecting and serving Douglas County, Brad spends part of his off-duty time coordinating the Police Reserve Academy (PRA) at Umpqua Community College (UCC). He joined the academy in 2008 as an on-site instructor. After graduating from UCC with a Criminal Justice degree in 2016, he became PRA’s program coordinator.
“For students exploring the field of criminal justice, getting experience firsthand is important,” he said. “Being a law enforcement officer is not a career that someone can merely observe and know that it is a right fit for him or her. The PRA gives students hands-on training and exposes them to as much of the law enforcement experience as possible.”
Local law enforcement agencies hire PRA graduates who have seen and experienced the situations they’ll face on the job. Hours spent training with firearms, driving in emergency situations, and marine survival—along with the physical rigors of the academy—eliminates those who lack commitment. Students attend the academy every Saturday for nine months—no exceptions.
“We strive to prepare students for this rewarding career,” Brad said. “Additionally, our goal is to strengthen the candidate pool for employers in the county.”
Brad is now a sergeant. He recently became the sheriff department’s public information officer.
“I’m the person I am today because of UCC,” he said. “The College translates life skills to work skills. Graduating was something that was important to me. I wanted to go back and get my degree—even though I was already working in law enforcement.”
Brad recognizes the level of discipline it takes to finish, and wanted to make sure it’s something he accomplished.
About Umpqua Community College
Nestled in the beautiful North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College is the regional center for higher education in Douglas County, Oregon. UCC provides high quality college degree programs, workforce development, and community learning opportunities.
Lt. Kelley Bean
Coordinator, Police Reserve Academy