August 6, 2013

Our Neighbors: Serving country and community

By Rob McDaniel
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — “I’m not one of those guys that grew up wanting to be a police officer,” said Sgt. Travis Dotson of the London Police Department.  “For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a U.S. Marine and serve my country.  I did that.  I loved the Marine Corps, but London is home.  It’s where my family is and I missed it here.”

Dotson joined the Marines in 1995, enlisting with an open contract.  He attended Marine Corps recruit training at Paris Island, S.C.  Upon graduation of basic training and the School of Infantry, Dotson was assigned to the Motor Transportation Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), and was sent to the 7th Engineer Support Battalion in San Diego, Calif.  

“I worked out of my MOS most of the time I was there.” Dotson said.  “We actually ended up running the battalion HAZMAT training course.”

Dotson served until the completion of his military contract in 1999.  After completing his service in the Marines, Dotson felt a strong desire to continue serving his country but wanted to be home as well.  He made the decision to continue his service by joining the National Guard as an Infantryman. 

After 9/11, Dotson’s Guard unit was activated and sent to Belgium to take over as the security force for the NATO Allied Command Operations Headquarters.  Dotson served in Belgium from 2001 to 2002. 

After returning home, Dotson began looking for work that would fit the specialty training he had received in the military.

“I really missed the ‘esprit de corps’ that comes with being in the military, but I wanted to be home too,” Dotson said.

In 2002, Dotson began serving the London community as a police officer.  He has served as a patrol officer, was the K-9 unit officer, worked with Kentucky State Police and the DEA as an interdiction officer and is currently serving as the School Resource Officer for South Laurel middle and high schools.

“The big thing I’m doing at the schools is making it a safe environment for our students to go to school and the teachers to work,” Dotson said.  “I’m building a rapport with students and my presence at the schools helps to prevent things from happening.”

Dotson said that working in the schools is one of the most challenging assignments he has faced as an officer.

“It’s like a small city and I’m there by myself,” Dotson said.  “I have to cover the high school, the middle school, bus garage, four elementary schools and McDaniel (Learning Center).  It’s a lot for one guy to do, so I stay busy, but the schools are safe and I get to do a lot of work with the kids.”

In addition to keeping the schools safe, Dotson gives classes on bullying, drug abuse, driver’s classes and forensic science classes.

“It’s all about building a relationship with the kids,” Dotson said.  “For a lot of them, school is the first encounter they have with an officer and we want it to be a positive experience.”

Dotson said he loves helping the community, especially mentoring children, and he plans to continue serving his community for the foreseeable future.