The young boy, scared and unsure why the police were at his home, caught the attention of Brian Webb.
The Whiteland resident was riding along with a friend and fellow reserve police officer. He was interested in becoming a reserve officer himself, and wanted to see what it entailed.
Arriving at a report of a domestic dispute, he learned that the crying boy suffered from autism. Webb’s own daughter, Katie, is on the autism spectrum, and he knew how autistic children can react to stressful situations. He used his experience to calm the boy down.
“I thought that this was a way I could relate my history and my background,” he said. “Everyone thinks that police officers just arrest people and take them away. That’s not it. That’s a very small part of what we do.”
Impacting people’s everyday lives is why Webb became a reserve officer. When he isn’t volunteering at his church, for local youth sports or at Whiteland schools, Webb offers his time to the Whiteland Police Department. He patrols just like a full-time officer, often giving up to 25 hours each month to help keep the community safe.
For his work with the department, as well as the multitude of other contributions to the community, Webb will be one of 17 torchbearers representing Johnson County in this year’s Indiana bicentennial celebration torch relay.
“I was very honored to learn I was a torchbearer. You do a lot of volunteer work not expecting recognition, but when it is recognized, you’re very appreciative,” he said.
How he finds that time is the question. Webb is a consultant for Eli Lilly, helping manage the computer informatics systems in laboratories around the world. When he is home, he volunteers with the Clark-Pleasant Education Foundation, which he helped start to support teachers and students throughout the school district.
He has coached, officiated and done announcing for his daughter’s basketball program, as well as coaching Whiteland Little League, youth basketball and football and helped start the first Whiteland travel baseball team.
The only way it all works is with the help of his wife, Kelli, and his children Katie, 18, and AJ, 16.
“They understand that serving is important, and that’s something we try to model with our kids,” he said. “My wife does a lot of volunteering at church and other outreaches. It’s something that’s important for us, and for our kids to learn.”
The idea to volunteer as an officer took hold after a conversation with a good friend two years ago who was a reserve officer. Webb was intrigued by the concept of the reserve program, and asked his friend to ride along during his patrol.
Reserve officers in Indiana have the same duties and authority as the full-time police. They patrol and respond to emergencies throughout the community. The main difference is, they don’t get paid.
Police departments throughout central Indiana, including in Southport, Greenwood and Lawrence, use reserve officers to bolster their force.
For Webb, it was the ideal opportunity to serve the town with the time that wasn’t spent at his job or with his family and friends.
“I always wanted to be a police officer when I was younger. But life directions took me in a different direction,” he said. “(My friend) was telling me about how much time he was able to put in, and the impact he was able to have with people.”
After riding along a few more times with his friend, he spoke to Whiteland Police Chief Rick Shipp about becoming a reserve. Six months later, he was in the reserve program.
In order to become a reserve officer, Webb had to do 40 hours of basic training, as well as 24 hours of continuing in-service training each year. He had to ride with an established officer to observe the intricacies of the job, until he had reached the level when he could patrol on his own.
While arresting people is part of his job, what has struck Webb most about being a police officer is the ability to try to help people realize the mistake they’ve made and how to correct their life’s path.
“You can arrest people, and they can be thankful for you. You’ve done them a service to set them straight. But also, you coach them along to figure out how they can do something better with their lives,” he said. “You try not to pile on them. They’re in a bad situation, so we work with people.”
Webb’s commitment to service was fostered early in his life. His father had given his time to coach youth athletics, even before his children were involved in them. Webb’s mother volunteered at Whiteland schools, and continues to do so.
They both drive seniors citizens to appointments.
“Growing up, I always had a really good set of role models. They were a really great example to me,” he said. “I’ve lived 47 years of my life here, and to me, Whiteland is about a sense of community. It’s time for me to give back.”
Here is a look at the county’s torchbearers:
Johnson County Bicentennial Festival
When: 5 to 10 p.m. Sept. 23
Where: Downtown Franklin
What: In recognition of the state’s bicentennial torch relay reaching the county, local officials have organized a community-wide party, with booths featuring the history of the county, a beer and wine garden, food vendors, a car show and music.