TONTOGANY – Noel Crawford is still protecting the public – but in a much younger community.
Crawford was hired in August at Otsego Local Schools to serve as campus safety director.
He spent 25 years with the Bowling Green Police Division before retiring in July 2022.
He said he has always had an interest in law enforcement, since he was a child.
“I was something that interested me,” he said. “I don’t know what it was, I was just drawn to it.”
His father, Michael, was in law enforcement with the Wood County Sheriff’s Department.
He graduated from Bowling Green High School in 1991, then attended Bowling Green State University.
His degree was in sociology with a focus on criminology. After graduation, he started applying at different police agencies.
He was hired by BGPD in 1997.
There’s things that you see as a police officer, oftentimes the worst of people in the worst situations, that aren’t seen by the typical citizen, Crawford said.
“I think I really got hit with a dose of reality,” he said.
Two years after he joined the force, the Columbine school shooting occurred. The country saw a need for law enforcement agencies to have a better response, he said.
BGPD was no different, and he asked to be sent to get trained as an active-shooter instructor.
From that time forward, he taught officers on active shooting responses before he became a member of the county’s Special Response Team.
He was with that unit for the final 16 years with the force.
The job at Otsego found him, he said.
A perfect retirement job was mowing lawn for a family member’s business. Through word of mouth, he heard about this opportunity.
“People knew people who were talking and had heard I was retired and had experience as an active-shooter instructor,” Crawford said.
“Long story short … I thought, well heck, it fit very much in line with what I had done with the police department,” he said.
He said he hasn’t missed the thrills – good and bad – that came with being with the police.
“When you first start as a policeman, that excitement is interesting. After 25 years, I think I’m done,” he said.
He said his focus for Otsego is on preparing the school if an active shooter occurs and creating layers of security to make it more difficulty for it to happen.
“I am here to check for any security issues that can be cause for concern,” Crawford said. “I very frequently do walk-throughs of all the schools to have a presence and be a deterrent factor.”
The district already had the Boot to secure doors and plans to replace windows to allow faster egress. Any gaps or quality issues with the camera systems in the schools are being identified and an overhaul of the door fob system, which requires stricter access permission, has been completed.
Otsego is using a $300,000 safety grant to make the improvements.
“I’ve been assisting the issues that they have already started addressing,” Crawford said.
He hopes to continue making security upgrades and make sure “Otsego is going to be one of the safer schools in the area.
“I’m certainly prepared to do whatever I have to do to protect the staff and students here, no question about it,” he said.