Keith Brooks Retiring After 38 Years in Law Enforcement

Apr 21st, 2014

(Carmi)-Keith Brooks will retire Monday with 38 years of law enforcement experience.

He joined the Carmi Police Department in 1976 as a patrolman.  Brooks retired on April 14, 2000 and joined the White County Sheriff’s Department two days later.  After seven years of night patrol, he opted for a day shift working courthouse security in 2007.   

“It was my life ambition to be a police officer.  I’m going to really hate retiring for that reason.  But it is also time to hang your gun up too.”

Brooks was influenced by law enforcement at an early age.  He recalls a visit to the police department as a child.  The station was located at the corner of Walnut and Cherry Streets, near the present site of Luxe Home. 

“There were three cells in there with a bathroom.  In case they ever arrested a woman, they would throw a blanket over the bars so she would have privacy.  That was the jail.” 

“Bo Gordon took me by the hand and said, ‘This is where it starts and this is where it ends.  You can be a good guy like me or a bad guy and I’ll put you in one of those cells’.  That stuck with me all of my life.”

Brooks went to school in Enfield through his sophomore year.  He had to finish high school in Wayne County after his family moved. 

Brooks decided to pursue law enforcement as a career when he was in the military.   He obtained a criminal justice degree afterwards and sought one of four open positions with the Carmi Police Department.  Brooks was hired along with Rick York, Dixie Blazier, and Roy Hardesty. 

He said being promoted to sergeant in 1986 was a great privilege.  Brooks would supervise the night patrol until his retirement in 2000.  He patrolled for his first seven years with the White County Sheriff’s Department.  When an opening in the courthouse came up, Brooks decided to move to days.   

“For a small community, we have experienced everything.  We have experiencing robberies…even bank robberies.  We’ve encountered suicides, murders, and unusual circumstances.”

Brooks says the community is fortunate to have an efficient police force.  Officers have been confronted with three murders in the past two years.  Brooks says these cases were solved in a short period of time.  He calls the response “phenomenal” for a community this size. 

“I would encourage these young people growing up to at least look at law enforcement as a career.  It’s been wonderful.” 

Brooks lives on a farm near Burnt Prairie with his wife Suzanne.  He says that farm will keep him busy in retirement.  But Brooks also plans to make time for coin hunting.       

“I’ve already told my wife, one day a week I’m going metal detecting with the grandkids.”

Brooks has two daughters, Leeann Morris and Allison Rice, and a stepson, Stephen Winesburgh, who live in the area.  He recently celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary with his wife Suzanne. 

Sheriff Maier invites the community to stop by the courthouse on Monday and wish Brooks a happy retirement.