For over 18 years, Richard Stanley has been the guardian of about 1,100 students a day as the Kilgore Independent School District’s resource officer.
He’ll soon be wearing a different hat – Stanley was elected just over two weeks ago as the new Rusk County Precinct One Constable – but he doesn’t plan to be a stranger.
“I’ll still be there,” he laughed, in an interview with the News Herald on Thursday. “Might not be as much as I’m used to being there, but I’ll still be there. I don’t think I could give that up.
“The friendships and relationships I’ve built with the faculty, staff and students, and also the parents – that means so much to me. Parents trust you to take care of their kids. It’s kind of hard not to develop friendships and bonds with them, throughout all this time. I’ll miss that day-to-day interaction very much.”
Stanley won the runoff for the constable’s position on July 14, and he has no opponent in the November election, so he’ll take office in January. And it’ll be the latest chapter of a life that seems to be all about public service.
Richard Stanley grew up in Longview, in the Spring Hill area, one of the children of Lynn and Brenda Stanley, and after becoming a law enforcement officer, he eventually found his way to Kilgore.
“I started (as KISD resource officer) in spring break of the 2002 school year,” he said. “(Wife) Farris and I immediately felt like Kilgore was home. We moved over here in Christmas that year.”
Richard and Farris have one child, a daughter, Ashley, herself a Kilgore High School alum now working at Longview Regional.
One brief break in his KISD career was time he spent in the military, called up in 2008 for a trip to Iraq. Stanley was there for about a year, from Thanksgiving, 2008 until the same holiday the next year.
Stanley, 47, said he’s going to take on his new position just like he has everything else: head on, full steam ahead. He explained the duties of a constable in Texas.
“A constable is an elected law enforcement officer whose duties include bailiff for the Justice of the Peace court, and serving civil papers that come through that court, or any other court,” he said. “A constable is a law enforcement officer, just like a sheriff’s deputy or a police officer. Have the same rights granted as other officers.”
Stanley was just learning how to operate a campaign when the COVID-19 virus not only slowed everything down but also changed the rules of the campaigning game.
“Once (COVID) began shutting things down, we all pretty much agreed the door-to-door standard campaign had to be changed, that we had to change our ways,” he said. “I did most of my campaigning through phone calls and Facebook, so the majority of mine was done at a distance. Luckily for me, I know a lot of people.
“…For me, it wasn’t so much stressful as it was frustrating. From the time I decided to run until the final election was almost a year. It was frustrating that it got pushed back a couple of months. I understood the reason for it. I was more concerned that the ones who got out to vote could do it in a healthy way.”
The night he won, Stanley spent with family, with great anticipation of the results.
“After the polls closed,” he recalled, “we went to my parents’ house and watched the news. We were seeing all the results coming in, but not ours. (Rusk County Republican Party Chairman) Charlie Williamson rang my phone, and said, ‘This is the official phone call. I’ll be announcing you as the winner of the run-off election.’ It was huge relief, that all the effort, all the time, all the energy – not only myself and my family, but for all those who went so far to support me, just a great relief, but also a sense of new responsibility.”
That’s a challenge in which Stanley has been meeting his entire life.
“I worked with the schools just over 18 years,” he said. “I have so enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed it, and all the positive things I’ve gotten to be involved in – what other position in the police department allows you to go and celebrate state championships?
“I really feel that serving our community in that capacity was my calling. I want to continue what I’m doing but broaden that to a bigger area. I’m looking at the opportunity (of helping serve) four school districts in Precinct One of Rusk County. I’m looking at the possibility of expanding to others. There’s nothing else within the law enforcement community that you can make such an impact on so many people.”
Stanley said the next chapter in his career, he’ll have the same attitude as the first few.
“I’m willing to work with anybody who’s willing to work with me,” he said. “We all have ultimately the same goal, which is to make this area a better place.”