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Inspiring Success and Confidence in Students

Michael Brown has been a criminal justice instructor at Tulsa Tech for six years, but he is also a former two-sport college athlete, a father of two, a retired officer from the Tulsa Police Department, and a 2023 Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Champion and 2023 World Champion Runner-Up.

The Boston, Mass., native played football and wrestled in college, while earning his degree in labor relations at Cornell. He then moved to Tulsa to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a police officer. 

“There had never been anything else I ever wanted to do,” Michael said. “Since I was about five years old, I had never thought there would be anything else that I could ever do in my life that would make me happier with it.” 

Michael moved to Tulsa with the intention of working for a few years and then moving back to Massachusetts, but he liked the people and working in Tulsa, so he never left.  Twenty years later he retired from the Tulsa Police Department.  Throughout his time, he worked on patrol, in the detective division in the family violence unit, in the internal affairs unit and then finally back in the detective division in crimes against children. 

After retiring from TPD, Michael originally went to work for a private company that worked in counter human trafficking, which was gratifying but was taking him away from home too much, so he started looking for a new job when he learned about the Tulsa Tech position. 

“I didn’t have any interest in being a high school teacher, but I considered it and accepted the position, and it ended up being a great fit,” Michael said. “This is where my real passion lies, helping young people. When I look back at my start in law enforcement, I had very little guidance and now I’m giving these students an experience that helps them get far ahead of where I was at their age, and I wish I had this opportunity.” 

The most important thing a student needs to succeed in the criminal justice program is self-belief.  They are taught things like handcuffing, defense tactics and how to write up reports, but what carries them through the day is self-belief, believing that they can do the job. 

“When they know that they can do hard things, things that they didn’t think they could do before this program, they believe in their capabilities and that is the real power of this class,” Michael said. 

The program has had 100% positive placement for four years running now. About 60-65% go to work for Tulsa County Jail and then the remaining students go on to college or the military. The students that work at Tulsa County usually become trainers themselves within six months. 

One of the benefits they get from the criminal justice program is if they finish the program and go to work at the Tulsa County Jail for three years, they don't have to have any college and they can be commissioned as a deputy, which is very unusual. 

“What we want to do is prepare them to be successful in the workplace,” Michael said. “The goal is get them into the workforce and get them doing something that is going to lead them to a career, not just a job. My students walk into a great job that will pay their bills, but most importantly it is the start of a career for them. Students will finish the Detention Officer Academy, earn their badge, and swear in as a Tulsa County Jail employee before they graduate high school.” 

It is also one of his proudest moments of working at Tulsa Tech, watching the students swear in to work for the Tulsa County Jail. 

“Tulsa Tech has really given me purpose. I love coming here every day and seeing my students because they are so excited to be in this profession.” 

In his free time, Michael trains in jiu-jitsu. He recently won the 2023 Pan American Championship and finished as the 2023 World Champion Runner-Up. He also spends time running between his oldest daughter’s wrestling meets and his youngest daughter’s basketball games. 

Michael isn’t just a criminal justice instructor, but a role model for his students in his daily demonstration of his self-discipline, self-belief, and love for his family.