On May 27, the Pittsburgh Board of Education approved George Brown, Jr. as the Chief of School Safety. The appointment makes Brown only the second African-American to hold the position since the retirement of Stanley Rideout in 1996. For more than 20 years, Chief Brown has served the children of Pittsburgh through the Office of School Safety, which currently consists of 22 police officers and 54 security guards.
“Chief Brown has distinguished himself these past few months in the “acting” role leading our Department of School Safety. His more than two decades of experience and his strong community ties will serve the students of PPS well. There is not a doubt that he puts the safety of our students first,” said Superintendent Linda Lane.
Brown, who graduated from Pittsburgh Public Schools, spent four years of active duty in the United States Marine Corp with the hopes of becoming a firefighter. In 1990, Brown was on his way to reenlist into the Marines when he stopped at the District’s Administration building on Bellefield Avenue to fill out a general application.
“I knew no one,” said Brown, 49. But, little did he know that his spontaneous inquiry would lead to a 25 year career in law enforcement and student safety.
Brown’s longest stint was as a security guard at Pittsburgh Brashear from 1991-2004. From there, he graduated from the Allegheny County Police Academy and joined the ranks as a school police officer.
In the Office of School Safety, Brown managed, trained and evaluated staff members. Chief Brown has served in multiple capacities within that office, including Assistant Chief of School Safety (2013-14) and Police Commander (2011-2013).
Brown served as Acting Chief when incumbent Chief Lisetta Novicki went on leave last Fall. During that term, Brown responded to some of the school district’s largest crises in recent years.
“It’s very important to provide a safe learning environment for both students and staff,” said Brown.
During his years of service, Chief Brown has earned multiple certifications and awards including a: Letter of Commendation for service to the City of Pittsburgh, School District, Whitehouse and Nation (1/28/2010), Letter of Commendation for Valor and Heroism Above the Call of the Duty (1/28/2010), a Letter of Commendation for Service Above the and Beyond the Call of Duty (1/29/97) and City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Letter of Recognition (11/28/1996).
Brown, who grew up on Aliquippa Street, is a lifelong resident of the Hill District and graduate of Schenley High School. Deeply invested in the community and its schools, he takes pride in coming “from a family of public servants.”
His father, George Brown Sr., who retired as a steel mill worker, started a basketball league in the Hill. While, his mother, Rosa Jean, and older sister, Thomasina, are retired medical professionals. His other three sisters, Monica (ret. Navy), Carmella, and Demita, are all currently working in Pittsburgh’s thriving health field. Whereas, his oldest sister, Veronica, works as a correctional officer at the Allegheny County Jail.
He hopes that in this new role “the inner city youth can look at me and see that with a little hard work and dedication, it is possible to achieve anything. All I want to do is have a positive impact on the community.”
In response to the district’s upcoming pilot of restorative practices at 21 schools next year, Brown said “I want to ensure that all security and police officers are trained.” Additionally, he plans to implement diversity training and instruction on how to deal with children with special needs. His staff will receive restorative practices training along with other District staff on June 11 and 12.