INA, Ill. – Retired cop Kevin Gordon’s membership in the International Police Association has taken him to locations in Germany, Ireland, England, Scotland and more. But his most recent mission – a Santa-esque scholarship run through southern Illinois on behalf of IPA Region 57 – brought him to Rend Lake College where the future of law enforcement is being trained.
Gordon, a retired cop, is the president of IPA Region 57 and a national office holder in the organization where he has two decades of membership. Patti McDaniel, a member of Region 57’s scholarship committee, joined Gordon at RLC recently to announce a new endowed scholarship of $10,000. Region 57, which covers 34 counties in Southern Illinois, is aiming to take care of local students looking for a future in law enforcement.
It’s not just Rend Lake. The organization is spreading scholarship support among community colleges across the region.
“Our goal is to get all community colleges in southern Illinois,” Gordon said, adding that the first colleges to answer the call are being served the scholarships.
RLC Foundation CEO Pat Kern said she’s very glad Rend Lake was chosen as a site for the new $10,000 endowment from the IPA.
“Any time an organization sets up an endowment, we consider that the highest gift you can give toward a scholarship foundation or a community college foundation because it is one that is a planned gift that will live on forever,” Kern said.
First priority will go to criminal justice majors at RLC, followed by students majoring in emergency service fields like the nursing and paramedic programs. Financial status will not be a factor, McDaniel said, because the organization feels some students who barely miss qualifying for financial aid could still use the help. Grade point average is also a non-issue with this scholarship, Gordon added, although the RLCF does require a minimum 2.0 GPA to qualify for any scholarship to RLC.
“We don’t want to exclude anybody. A student could be getting a 2.0 or 3.0 while working full time and providing for a family,” Gordon explained.
Membership in the IPA is open to active or retired police officers. Local cops join Region 57, which is one of three IPA regions in Illinois.
“The regions are simply so you have a local flavor to it ... so you can go to meetings and that kind of thing,” Gordon said.
The history of the IPA fascinates Gordon. He said it started internationally in 1950 with the U.S. Branch establishing in 1962.
“Right after World War II, the British cops didn’t trust the German cops or the Italian cops,” he explained. “Everybody had done things maybe they shouldn’t have done. Because of that this guy in England – a sergeant – said, ‘We’ve got to become friends again.’ And within five years of them creating the organization, the national board had a German cop and an Israeli cop. Who’d of ever thought that would have been possible?”
The brotherhood has grown to 400,000 members in 60 countries with local meetings organized from Mt. Vernon to Moscow and Malta, a small island in the center of the Mediterranean Sea.
“It’s all about friendship,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you police. You’re still doing the same thing.”
Gordon’s been to a lot of places because of the IPA. Likewise, he has been an Illinois ambassador to members from Romania, England, Germany, Iceland and others.
“I’ve got friends around the world because of it.”