Save the Date
Police Chief John Ryan is retiring this summer. Join your neighbors in a reception honoring him on June 27 at 5:30 PM at the picnic shelter on Southview (by Homecroft Elementary).
There will be FREE pizza to the first 100 people in line.
Soft drinks, water and dessert will also be available.
This summer John Ryan will retire as chief of the Homecroft Police Department, a position he has held since January 1, 2011. It’s not a decision he has come to easily, but at 74 he says it’s time to pass on the torch.
“Growing up I wanted to do two things,” Ryan said. “I wanted to fly and to be a cop.” Ryan earned his instrument flight rating and was part owner of a V-Tail Beechcraft Bonanza once flown by Harvey Weir Cook (Google him!).
While Ryan gave up flying a number of years ago, it won’t be as easy giving up policing Homecroft, where he has served since 1983.
“We sometimes joke that Homecroft is Mayberry” (a reference to a 1960s TV show featuring life in an idyllic town). “But Homecroft really is special,” Ryan said.
“It’s such a neat little community. Homecroft has pretty much maintained its way of life over the years. People come and go. But people become assimilated into the Homecroft way. They get to know their neighbors. They look out for each other. They take pride in Homecroft.”
And Homecroft residents differ from those in other places in that they are very supportive of their police department. Reflecting on the current atmosphere of distrust of police, Ryan said people in Homecroft have never acted that way. “They come up and thank us for being here,” he said. “It might be a bit quieter. Maybe they don’t want to be outed. But honestly it seems like in the last couple of months more people have come up to thank us.
“Really here in Homecroft we get to know the residents. They will wave to us or stop to talk to us. It’s personal here.”
What does he want residents to know? “Cops are people,” he said. “All this divisive talk and politics has to stop. We need to deal with people on an individual basis and see each other as people.”
The other thing he wants people to know is the 20 or so members of the Homecroft Police Department are volunteers. The chief is the only paid member of the department. Ryan asks officers to volunteer six to eight hours a week. “We would like to have coverage 24/7 but that’s not possible,” Ryan said. “The coverage goes up and down, but we try to maintain a police presence 50 percent of the time.”
When asked why the officers would volunteer time, Ryan said, “It sounds cliche but they really do want to make a difference in the lives of people. They want to give back to the community.”
And what is he most proud of? “We have good officers and we have been able to increase the quality of training in the years since I’ve been here,” Ryan said.
“Tony Gregory is our training officer. We have monthly training sessions ranging from de-escalation to emergency vehicle operations to firearms training to legal update training. Tony volunteers with us but he retired as Assistant Director of Training at the Marion County Sheriff’s Department Training Academy. His training credentials are incredible. Susan Dean does our legal update training. She is a retired lieutenant from the state police legal section. We are very proud of our training courses.”
The department has also grown since Ryan joined back in 1983. “At that time Tom Sims was chief. Other officers were Bob Barber, Hank Bosworth, and Mike Dugan.”
Ryan took a circuitous route to policing. After graduating from the Latin School of Indianapolis in 1964 he attended Saint Meinrad Seminary with the thought of becoming a priest. That was in the 1960s when political, social, and racial unrest raged throughout the country. He and a few buddies were on their way to the South to join one of the marches in the civil rights movement when their car broke down en route. “Probably a good thing,” he said. Shortly thereafter he reconsidered the priesthood and ended up with a bachelor’s degree in business from Marian College, now Marian University.
After stints at Peerless Pump, Kennedy Equipment Company, and the dean’s office at IU Medical School, Ryan worked as an internal auditor in the Department of Natural Resources and became the director of accounting and internal auditing. He ended his DNR career as director of asset management having served that department for more than 23 years. It was there that Ryan learned more about state and local government and was awarded a Sagamore of the Wabash by Governor Robert Orr.
However, his early civics education came around the dinner table. His father had various public service positions. He was a city prosecutor, was appointed to the Marion County Circuit Court, and served as judge on the superior and appellate courts. The senior Ryan also served as Indiana State Senator. In the 1970s he was chief counsel for Governor Orr. Ryan said it was common for other city and state officials to gather around their dinner table and talk politics.
Zach Frizzell, president of the Homecroft Town Council, has been learning from Ryan for the nine years he has been on the council. Ryan attends all of the council meetings.
“Don’t let the chief’s slow talk and ‘aw shucks’ mannerisms fool you,” Frizzell said. “Chief Ryan attends all of the council meetings and he has been our go-to guy for so many things. When we have questions about rules, ordinances, state law, things that have happened in Indianapolis, anything, he has known the answers. He is as sharp as they come and an astute mentor of city and state government and history. We are going to miss his contributions to our meetings.”
Ryan and his wife, Jamie, enjoy road trips and plan to travel in retirement. He is a voracious reader of a wide range of books. He enjoys being around family and his dogs and also plans to spend more time in the garden.
The Homecroft Town Council has appointed Sgt. Jim Leonard as the new chief of the Homecroft Police Department, replacing the retiring John Ryan. Sgt. Leonard has been a member of HPD for the past seven years.
HOMECROFT COMMUNITY SALE!
Save the Dates
The annual Homecroft Community Sale is back this year! Mark your calendars for Friday, June 25th from 7am - 4pm and Saturday, June 26th from 7am - 2pm!
Principal Jody Matthews of Homecroft Elementart Named 2021 District Administrator of the Year!
Congratulations to Homecroft Elementary School Principal Jody Matthews, Perry Township's 2021 District Administrator of the Year!
Mr. Matthews has spent his entire career in numerous roles with Perry Township Schools. He has always been a champion for his school, his teachers, and his students. You will often find him at sporting events throughout the district, cheering for our teams, spending a weekend watching Homecroft Hornets in their youth leagues, and even attending graduation every year to congratulate his former students.
Under Mr. Matthews’ leadership, Homecroft has been rated an ‘A’ school for six of the last seven years, including two times in the top 25 of all elementary schools for growth. This achievement is especially impressive because he helps his teachers provide a high-quality education to a diverse student body, which includes more than 30% English learning students.
Mr. Matthews is committed to being a lifelong learner, and he is passionate about growing his teachers. He believes in surrounding himself with experts and staff that can provide great insights, and he takes on hard conversations with compassion and empathy.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Matthews embraced this challenge and found ways for his teachers to connect during the shutdown. Recording book readings with his teachers, virtual spirit week, and Facebook live streams are just a few examples of how he connected with students and families.
Mr. Matthews recognized challenges that faced our teachers during virtual instruction. He worked with the leadership team to develop professional development around resources, technology platforms, and coaching to improve education. Mr. Matthews quickly identified that live synchronous teaching and interactions, despite challenging logistics, led to better student engagement and academic outcomes. Once he formulated a plan to foster synchronous learning in a remote setting, he saw student attendance spike to an impressive 97%.
Mr. Matthews continues to strive for personal growth. While he is very competitive, it is done for the betterment of his staff and students. Mr. Matthews is constantly reflecting on how instruction is performed and how to do it better.
Thank you for your commitment to your students, staff, and the Homecroft community Mr. Matthews!
Homecroft Police Officer Jamie Adair met with older Girl Scouts to teach them to spot signs of alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses. The Scouts from Troops 1025, 234, and 192, had many questions and Officer Adair taught them what they need to do to assist until medical/police officials arrive. Officer Adair also instructed them on ways to help people with head and neck injuries and how to stabilize them until help arrives.
Officer Matt Baker was the recipient of two honors on Thursday, March 18, 2021, during the Town Board meeting. Officer Baker was first named Homecroft Police Department's 2020 Officer of the Year for multiple actions, including, but not limited to the resuscitation of an overdose victim with no heartbeat. Officer Baker administered CPR to the victim.
Second, Officer Baker, was awarded the Medal of Valor and Official Decree of Honor by the Town of Homecroft, a first for the Town. The medal and decree were awarded for actions taken on September 18th, 2020 by Officer Baker. Officer Baker observed smoke on Madison Avenue and followed it to an apartment building in the Green Tree Apartment Complex. On Approach, Officer Baker noticed flames coming from the windows and immediately notified dispatch to inform the Indianapolis Fire Department. Without consideration for his own safety, Officer Baker went into the burning building to evacuate residents. Accompanied by Captain Whitlow of Southport Police Department, both heroically and safely evacuated many residents, while they, themselves, suffered smoke inhalation and had to be treated on scene by Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services.
Captain Whitlow was also awarded a Commendation by the Homecroft Police Department for his involvement.