From the classroom to the streets of Lemoore; former Lemoore High teacher turns cop

By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
Former Lemoore High School teacher Tracy Landrus keeps Lemoore students safe now.
Former Lemoore High School teacher Tracy Landrus keeps Lemoore students safe now.

At an age when most retired high school teachers are content with their retirement checks, grabbing the Early Bird Special, and babysitting the grandkids, former teacher Tracy Landrus decided he needed a little bit more out of life – so he did something very few people do at the tender age of 61. He became a cop.

Landrus, who worked at Lemoore High School for 18 years before leaving in 1995 for a teaching job in Lancaster, California, has returned to Lemoore, not to teach, but to patrol the streets and walk the hallways of Lemoore High School as one of Lemoore’s finest - a police officer.

Landrus and wife Gwendolyn left Lemoore partly because Gwen had family in Lancaster and it was a change. “It was a brand new high school and my wife had a sister there and they needed a band teacher,” he said.

The two have two children, Donald 33 and Victoria, 29.

All told Landrus has been in the classroom a total of 37 years. He wasn’t even thinking about retiring from education until Lemoore Chief of Police Jeff Laws rang him up and offered him a job as a police officer. Seems Laws and the Lemoore Police Department were well aware of each other for years. “We didn’t even talk about retirement until the chief asked me to take a job with the Lemoore Police Department,” said Landrus.  “It all fell into place and I said okay.”

Walking a beat isn’t a new experience for Landrus. He’s been doing law enforcement part time since about 1985 when the long-time Lemoore High School teacher decided he’d take a closer look at law enforcement, earning his certification through a local police academy. Since then, Landrus has served as a reserve officer, first in Visalia, and then in Lemoore when former Lemoore Chief Ken Marvin brought him here when he took the Lemoore chief’s job. Apparently Marvin, who went on to become the Kings County Sheriff, liked what he saw in Landrus and wanted him for the Lemoore Police Department.

“I always had an interest in law enforcement,” said Landrus. After earning his certification he worked for four years as a reserve officer in Visalia before making the move to Lemoore at the request of Marvin. When Marvin moved up the ladder, he continued working at Lemoore under the auspices of former chiefs Bob Carden and Kim Morrell - and now Laws.

Landrus may have left Lemoore in 1995, but Lemoore didn’t leave him. During his breaks from the high school classroom in Lancaster, Landrus would sometimes spend weekends, long breaks and summers working as a reserve officer in Lemoore.

“I’d come up here for a week at a time and work,” said Landrus. “I really like working here.”

He’ll be working full time now. Landrus’ first assignment is as the Lemoore High School Youth Development Officer (YDO), and he will spend much of his day at the same place where he patrolled a classroom for 18 years, teaching band, choir and U.S. History. He’s taking over for previous YDO Brandon Cooper, who was needed by Laws for field training.

“The chief called me in and asked me if I’d fill in for Brandon and I said yes of course.” He started at Lemoore High School on the first day of school August 14.

“Tracy was here when I got here in 1997,” said Laws, Lemoore’s current chief. “I knew he was thinking about retiring so I offered him a full-time reserve contract,” he said. Laws predicts Landrus will remain at the high school two or three months or until Cooper has completed field training. “I thought it was a perfect match all the way around,” said the Lemoore chief. Landrus will then go into the field after his stint at the high school.

Laws couldn’t be more pleased with his officer’s new role. “He’s completely qualified to go out there and do the job as a police officer,” he said. “I’m extremely satisfied with Tracy, without a doubt.”

The friendly Landrus can be seen strolling the hallways of Lemoore High School now, and he works in a small office where he files reports and meets with the high school’s campus supervisors. The YDO is charged with the safety of upwards of 2,000 students. Landrus will also be at local athletic contests, including Friday night football games.

Landrus is originally from Yuba City and graduated from Fresno State. His first job was at Chowchilla Middle School for a year before arriving in Lemoore.

“I always wanted to be a music teacher,” he said. And he fulfilled that dream while at Lemoore High. He was band director and choir director for several years. He also taught History classes.

How long will he continued to serve and protect the citizens of Lemoore? He’s not sure, but he’s guessing two or three more years. After all, the former teacher is nearing an age when most guys like him look forward to Social Security and reduced rates at the movie theater.

“I’m not ready to retire, retire,” he said. “I like being a cop.”

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