School Resource Officer Rich Randolph wants to change the way people see cops

Randolph impacts Colton High School and the Colton community with programs aimed at mentoring and supporting students and families


J. Dollins

Officer Rich Randolph has been Colton High School’s School Resource Officer for the past four years. His love for the job is evident in the relationships he builds with Colton’s students.

Officer Rich Randolph is here to protect and serve.

Randolph has been working for Colton PD for 15 years, and has been the School Resource Officer at Colton High School for the past four.

He started to work with high school students because he believes they are the future of the community. One challenge he faces in his work is getting negative comments about how he does his job, or when there is violence.

However, he keeps a positive attitude. “I just strive to make an impact in people’s lives, even if I am close to them personally or not,” Randolph said.

Officer Randolph answers questions from Colton High’s students at this “Cookie with a Cop” event on October 21, 2021. (J. Dollins)

Making an impact is just what Officer Randolph does. He has gotten calls about social services, runaways, kids that do not want to go to school. He often helps kids who have problems at home. But he also helps parents who need resources to support their children no matter what age they are.

Throughout the day, students knock at Randolph’s door to ask questions. Questions about law enforcement or social justice. Sometimes the questions are about life skills, or when they should get a driver’s license, before or after graduation. They even ask him about when they should start working, if they should go to college, and other things you wouldn’t expect a police officer to be asked.

The answer he gives is to “enjoy your life right now while you can.”

It is interactions like these with the kids, both in and out of school, that he loves the most about his job.

Since Officer Randolph began his career in law enforcement, he has been an advocate for students, and developed programs designed to mentor, support, and inspire them. 

In 1996, while working for the Santa Paula police department near Ventura, Randolph started the first “Cops N Jocks” program, which works with local high school sports programs to encourage and mentor student-athletes.

“I was trying to find a way to change the way the community saw police,” he said.

A younger, svelte Officer Randolph when he worked for the Santa Paula PD in 2005, when he established the Cops N Jocks program. (Santa Paula News)

After leaving the Santa Paula PD, whose future at the time was uncertain, Officer Randolph took his current position with Colton PD. City leadership was impressed with his student advocacy and the “Cops N Jocks” program, which began to spread to other departments, and competed with other departments to hire him.

Officer Randolph enjoys working at Colton High School and with the community at-large. “It’s a small town that still has a community philosophy,” he said. “One of the last towns in the IE that still has parades.”

“Cops N Jocks” was not Randolph’s only initiative however. He has also been at the forefront of the police department’s Colton At-Risk Teens (CART) Academy, which introduces Colton’s “at-risk youth to discipline, guidance, and career development.”

In Randolph’s work with CART, he is required to do home visits for students who struggle with attendance. One night a few years ago, this took him to a local Colton hotel. What he found was a family with three kids crammed in a single room together. Each of the kids had their books open and were trying to study.

It was a week before Christmas.

Randolph was moved by this scene. “What we decided to do—me and the officers on our shift—we rounded up some gifts, some gift cards, and took them down there to give to them.”

I was trying to find a way to change the way the community saw police.

— Rich Randolph, School Resource Officer

This was the start of Operation: Giving, Colton PD’s annual community service program. Officers caravan to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center to deliver toys to every single child in the hospital. “Whether they are in pediatrics or the burn unit,” Randolph said, “every child gets a toy.”

In addition to the hospital delivery, each holiday season Randolph leads a crew of officers who deliver toys, food, and gift cards to families who have experienced a tragic loss, such as the death of a loved one. A parade of police, including the SWAT vehicle, the Chief of Police, and Santa Claus himself show up at family homes to distribute gifts and tidings.

While these programs provide an opportunity to do good deeds and improve the lives of families in the short term, it is the long term impact of his job that keeps Randolph motivated. Over the years in Colton, he has worked with a countless number of young men and women, and invested in them.

For Officer Rich Randolph, what makes his job rewarding is “Seeing kids that grow up that either played football, or were part of the program, who are now contributing to society and paying it forward through mentoring.”