Community, resilience, family and giving back – those are the themes in the life of Bob Ronkoski, director of public safety and chief of police at St. Charles Community College.
When doctors told Bob he had a 50/50 chance of making it through the surgery after an accident at his home in 2009, he could have given up. But he didn’t. Not only did he beat the odds of walking again, he also returned to work and is making a difference in the lives of everyone on campus and many throughout the community.
“I like the community college setting because students are still learning and there’s a chance to help them to be successful in the pursuit of their goals and dreams,” Bob said.
His attitude of seeing the good in life is a recurring theme. Bob teaches criminal justice classes at the college, and says he enjoys teaching. “I like relating my experiences to students as they build their career,” he said. “I’ve lived it all.”
And he has lived it all. Bob began his career while still in high school, where he belonged to two different explorer scout programs and worked as an intern for the Brentwood Police Department and the Forest Park Campus Police. He was inspired to follow in the footsteps of his father, who was a military police officer in the Army for 21 years and after retiring was a municipal police officer with the City of Brentwood.
As the youngest of five, he was the only sibling in his family who wanted to go to college. When his father became ill, his parents weren’t able to help financially, so he started his own education at St. Louis Community College while also working full-time as a campus police dispatcher for the Florissant Valley Campus Police and part-time as a dispatcher for Breckenridge Hills Police Department on the weekends.
It was at Florissant Valley where he met his wife Pam, who was taking classes and working in the campus bookstore. They married less than a year later and started a family.
Bob went on to earn an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, Missouri Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification, and worked more than 30 years in the public safety/law enforcement profession, most recently working for 20 years in the St. Ann Police Department.
He raised a family, attended college while working many secondary jobs in the security profession and was promoted up the ranks from patrolman, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant.
In his role as director of public safety and chief of police at SCC, Bob has overseen a number of campus safety initiatives, including a text messaging alert system, new and improved communications and additional certified police officers, while maintaining a service-oriented presence for the Department of Public Safety on campus.
Shortly after coming to SCC, Bob decided to give back, starting a criminal justice scholarship through the SCC Foundation. Named the James F. Ronkoski scholarship in honor of his father, the scholarship makes it possible for other community college students like him to get an education.
Bob also is involved in a number of professional and community organizations, serving as a board member for the Missouri Association of Campus Law Enforcement, Missouri Peace Officers Association, Cottleville/Weldon Spring Chamber of Commerce, Eastern Missouri Police Academy and the St. Louis Regional Traffic Safety Council.
Bob and his wife Pam live in Cottleville and have three children and three grandchildren.