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IU public safety official spends off-hours writing, composing music, teaching martial arts

Dec. 7, 2016

David Rhodes has a lot going on -- by choice.

He has a job as training lieutenant for public safety education at IU. He is raising a family -- twin sons, now 9 -- with his wife, Sarah Greene. He's wrapping up his third novel, and he owns and teaches at Ryukyu Kyusho Family Martial Arts in Bloomington. Plus the singer-songwriter rarely lets a day pass without picking up his guitar and writing songs for the band he and his wife started.

David Rhodes


Rhodes joined the IU Police Department almost 37 years ago and has had numerous roles over the years, including walking beat patrol, detective, Critical Incident Response Team member, shift sergeant and now training lieutenant. He also helps with the IU Police Academy and during the summer leads the cadets on their morning runs, which is one of the reasons he works out daily.

"I like to stay in shape," he said.  "I like to think that if something happens, I can meet the challenge that occurs, and being in good mental and physical shape is how you do that. I also like to work."

Driven to create

Rhodes describes his first book, "Written in Stone," as "Time Machine meets Jurassic Park." Published by Severed Press in 2015, his work was ranked No. 1 in the U.K. and in the U.S. on the Amazon Best Sellers List for its genre. He self-published his second book, "Dreams Like Tears," which he described as traditional sci-fi.

His third book also is fiction but has involved research at the Jackson County Courthouse about a historic incident: the first moving train robbery in the U.S. It happened in 1866 as a train pulled out of Seymour, Indiana. His research involved interviews and poring over dusty handwritten records.

Rhodes and his wife,  an acupuncturist started the group Elmo Taylor, which includes their friends Leslie Slone and Tyler Ferguson. Greene, who plays French horn professionally for orchestras in the Midwest, plays guitar and base in the band and also plays French horn in some of the songs Rhodes wrote for her.hey haven't performed for about a year because "life gets in the way." When they do perform, they play original songs -- folks, rock, country, acoustic and more -- as well as covers.

David Rhodes teaches martial arts class

Rhodes instructing at his martial arts studio, Ryukyu Kyusho Family Martial Arts, along Bloomington's B-Line Trail. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID RHODES

Rhodes' martial arts studio is along Bloomington's B-Line trail. Rhodes began learning martial arts in 1969, focusing on styles that allow him to use his bare hands to defend himself from people using various weapons (guns, knives, sticks). His studio provides instruction in Ryukyu Kempo, Small Circle Jiujitsu, Isshinryu karate and Modern Arnis.

Joining the thin blue line 

Rhodes didn't begin his career in law enforcement; he initially put his associate degree in architectural technology to work. But after listening to his cousin, former IUPD-Bloomington Chief Mike Hanson, and several others talk about their work, he thought it would be challenging.

"It sounded like an interesting job," he said. "It's outside, always different. The work makes you think, apply yourself, be intuitive and resourceful."

He hasn't regretted it since. As he moved through the ranks, he also completed bachelor's and master's degrees. Much of his work today involves arranging training for IUPD officers on all of IU's campuses. He also is an instructor. Officers are required to take 24 hours of in-service training each year, with the department encouraging even more training to meet the needs of local communities. Rhodes said that working on university campuses provides the opportunity to tap local experts in many of the topics, such as cultural diversity, autism and Alzheimer's disease.

"They're always happy to do it," he said of IU staff. "They want the police to succeed in what they're doing." 

Rhodes said a positive attitude is an important part of his job -- and that all of his other interests may provide an important assist. He said work days rarely go as planned, but regardless of what happens, he makes his plans for the following day and then goes home -- leaving work at the office.

"When I go home, I have my family, martial arts, the book. I have other things that I think about," he said. "If you dwell on work-related matters at home, you're at work 24 hours a day."

And it works. Rhodes said he hits the ground running each day.

"I like it as much today as I did when I started," he said. "I always look forward to coming to work."

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