OCOEE — When Randy Conyers was thinking about a possible career path, he didn’t have to look far for inspiration. He chose to become a law-enforcement officer, just like his grandfather, Jack Clark, who was chief of police in the city of Winter Garden from 1964-66.
Conyers, who retired last week following 30 years of service to the Ocoee Police Department, said he tried to emulate Clark’s sense of fairness and honesty.
“He has always been my inspiration,” Conyers said. “He taught me about God, honesty and service. Everyone knew him and knew he was an honest and fair man. I tried to model myself after him. It didn’t matter if I was arresting someone, caring for an injured person, consoling someone in a tragedy or teaching kids; my goal was always to treat them with respect.”
Conyers was a reserve officer with the Winter Garden Police Department and intended to have a long career in his hometown, following in his grandfather’s footsteps, but there were no positions available. When the Ocoee department advertised for a dispatcher, Conyers took the job. Six months later, in April 1985, he was hired as a police officer; promotions to corporal and sergeant came in 1988 and 1997.
He said one of his biggest accomplishments is the implementation of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program at Ocoee schools in 1989. The international substance-abuse prevention education program teaches students good decision-making skills. Conyers initially raised $6,000 from local businesses for the first year of D.A.R.E. and was able to have it placed as a line item in the budget. He was also the first officer in Orange County to teach the program at the middle-school level.
“This year is the 25th anniversary of actually teaching the program in the schools,” he said. “It has continued on and is in the budget every year. No telling how many children’s lives it has affected. I know I have received many wonderful personal notes from prior students about what I meant to them. … It was heart warming to hear and see these notes. I had no idea I had that kind of effect on those kids.”
In 1995, he established the Cardinal Patrol, a youth crime watch program, at Ocoee Middle School. Student members reported to school administrators if they witnessed issues such as truancy, fights and thefts.
He was the first supervisor of the Traffic Unit and Professional Standards and was a long-time public information officer for the agency.
In his 30 years with the Ocoee Police Department, Conyers’ responsibilities were many. He oversaw, directed and conducted forfeiture, internal affairs, background, criminal and lie-detector investigations. He conducted and supervised traffic homicide investigations.
He established the SAFER Driver Program that is taught citywide and was the lead driving instructor for the department.
He assisted in obtaining a three-year Community Oriented Policing Services Grant and helped the department receive other grants totaling more than $757,000. He was the emergency management liaison between the city of Ocoee and surrounding agencies, was a Crisis Intervention Team coordinator and was past secretary of the Ocoee Pension Board.
For the last few years, he has been a private-security instructor at Mid-Florida Technical Institute and an adjunct professor at Valencia College, both in Orlando.
He has also served as a member of the football coaching staffs at Ocoee and Celebration high schools. He has been the liaison to the Ocoee PD chaplains, and he is a member of Winter Garden Elks Lodge 2165, where he has been the recipient of multiple recognition awards.
Conyers might be retiring from the Ocoee Police Department, but that doesn’t mean he’s giving up work completely. He has accepted a position with the Office of Inspector General with the Department of Transportation in Tallahassee and will be doing investigative work. He is also going to be a first-time grandfather in about a month, and he intends to keep busy in that new role, too.
“Spending time with my wife, children and extended family is always at the top of my list,” he said.
Contact Amy Quesinberry Rhode at [email protected].