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Community mourns the loss of Tohono O'odham school resource officer

TOPD Officer Bryan Brown
Posted at 4:11 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 22:35:29-04

SELLS, Ariz. — The passing of Officer Bryan Brown is a tremendous loss for the Tohono O'odham nation, especially the students, parents, and colleagues he worked alongside for more than a decade.

“He was a genuine man of kindness. He loved every single child in the community and he wouldn't have been here for 20 years on the nation if he didn't love his work. He lived his work every day with such passion, he has such integrity,“ said Dr. Edna Morris, superintendent of Baboquivari Unified School District.

Morris remembers him always being there to provide support and guidance. He served as a school resource officer for a decade touching the lives of hundreds of students.

Officer Brown had only hit the streets weeks before the encounter with the suspect who took his life.

“Because we started in a virtual setting this year. [School resource officers] were actually moved back out on the field. He had just come in to drop off his keys a few weeks before he passed away-- just to let me know we know, 'Here are the keys. I'm sorry we're going to go out and out on the field and I'm excited about it it's something new.' I just told him [to] just be safe out there," explained Dr. Morris.

For him, being an officer was more than just wearing the badge.

“I think the biggest impact was his ability to connect with the children. He really talked to me all the time about how important it was for students and families in the community, not to just look at the uniform he was wearing, but to also see that he offered. [He] was available to really connect with the kids and teach them things that are important about growing up,” she added.

Since his passing, community members have been there when he was escorted home to mourn his death. They have also hosted walks to honor his life.

Dr. Morris has one final message for Officer Brown.

"You were the light to so many people for so many years and I just want you to know that we are all thankful. Words could never measure the appreciation that this community has for you," she said.

Services for the late officer will be held later this month.