Brandon Walker works passionately with at-risk youth for one reason – he once was that kid himself.
An eight-year veteran of the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD), Walker’s early childhood in Memphis, Tennessee was surrounded by what he describes as “death and incarceration that was prevalent among friends and family.” Crime and violence was all around him.
Fortunately, he also had some key figures in his life that helped steer him in the right direction.
“If I wouldn’t have had the right people in my life to model for me, I would not have made it to where I am today as a police officer dedicated to helping at-risk kids.”
Walker first gives credit to his mother and grandparents for instilling moral values at a young age. Then, upon moving to Kansas City, Kansas at age 10, a little league football coach named Bob Hall became the mentor he needed outside his family.
“He is really the guy that motivated me and several of my friends,” Walker said. “He instilled the discipline that we needed. You can get it from your parents, but having that coach who believes in you is huge. And he was someone you knew you had to deal with if you messed up. He was a big-time influence.”
Walker excelled in football at Washington High School in Kansas City, Kansas, then took his game to the college level, first at Fort Scott Community College and then at Southern Illinois University.
Walker’s success on the football field and experiences from his childhood, inspired him to start his career working with youth as a teacher and coach. He taught history classes and coached football and basketball at Fort Osage High School and Grandview High School.
Walker then transitioned into law enforcement, working as a Juvenile Detention Officer in Johnson County, while also coaching defensive linemen for the Avila University football team.
“My passion has always been to work with at-risk youth,” Walker said. “I loved coaching and teaching, but becoming an officer gave me more opportunities to work with those type of kids and to be an authoritative figure for them in the community.”
Walker moved on to the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department and has worked in several units within the department. His favorite roles have been working as a School Resource Officer at Southeast High School and his current position as a resource officer for the Police Athletic League.
In the meantime, Walker had been experiencing some major difficulties within his own family. A separation from his children’s mother caused him to be away from his children, which began to take a toll.
Walker said his peers who saw him every day started seeing a person they didn’t recognize. “I became distant, mean and undesirable to be around. I started drinking profusely. I felt I had no value if I couldn’t take care of my children.”
“My family is everything to me.” Walker continued. “I would go back and forth in court with my children and then put this cape (police uniform) on every day to save the world. The burden was too heavy.”
Walker was introduced to The Battle Within, an organization that helps with the healing process for veterans and first responders. He completed the course and says “it saved my life.”
“It taught me to be completely transparent with those who have my best interest. It also helped me see that, while I thought I had a big cross to bear, there are many whose crosses are way bigger than mine. I needed to count my blessings and get my cross right.”
Walker is now a proud husband and father of five. He continues to dedicate much of his time to at-risk youth in Kansas City every day, volunteering on the KCPD Bully Awareness Committee, Real Men Read program, Teens in Transition and 3P (Professionals Promoting Perseverance). He’s helping area youth, just like Coach Hall and others did for him. For his unwavering commitment to at-risk youth in Kansas City, Walker is being honored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and the Kansas City Royals as a Blue KC Hometown Hero. He will be honored at the Royals game on Saturday, July 3.