At the end of the day, police officers and other public servants who serve our city are people just like you and I. Get to know Zionsville Police Department Chief Robert Knox in this month’s Public Servant Appreciation Q&A.
What’s your story? How did you first get involved with the ZPD and where did the passion for this occupation come from?
“My father talked about law enforcement when I was a child. He was a military police officer, and he had a real passion for it. It was something that had always peaked my interest. After school and college, I started in 1979 in a little town on the other side of Boone County called Advance, as a reserve police officer. I also had the opportunity to transfer to Lebanon Police Department for two years before coming back here to Zionsville. After I had some experience with the Zionsville community and this police department, I knew that this was absolutely where I wanted to be. So, I came back here full time in 1984, and it has been an amazing experience. I’ve been very blessed and, a lot of the times, I’ve just been in the right place at the right time. I came in as patrol, but really came in on the detective side of the house. I was the first full-time detective that Zionsville had. The people that I work with right now make me so proud everyday. They are dedicated, smart and really dialed into the community. You don’t see that everyday. My son is also a police officer in Lebanon.”
What do you enjoy most about your job?
“It’s going to sound corny, but meeting with the people and families. I love this community and have seen this community grow a tremendous amount over the last 34 years. Zionsville is clean, our crime rate is low. The people are really involved in the community. At my age, having had the experiences I’ve had, I really just enjoy seeing the families and kids and talking with people. And, of course, I am a police officer, so if we get to lock up some people that really deserve it, that is a good day as well.”
Tell us about your family. How long have you been in Zionsville?
“Well, my wife Karin is my rock and my better half. We have been married more than 37 years. We have a son, Justin, as I mentioned is a Lebanon police officer. I’m blessed and luckier than I ever deserved to be. We live just outside of Zionsville.”
Everyone has a favorite spot around the town that they live in. What is your go-to lunch or dinner spot? Favorite bakery or shop around town?
“You’re going to get me in a lot of trouble if I say one place over the other. Honestly, I’ve never been to a restaurant here in Zionsville where I thought, ‘I’m never coming back here again.’ I just don’t know of any bad places. Of course I have my favorite places, but I’m going to play that card close to my chest.”
What is life like outside of work? Hobbies that you have?
“I own two Harley Davidson motorcycles. So, I enjoy riding my motorcycles when I have the time. My wife isn’t the biggest fan. I would like to get into fly fishing, and I’ve done that once before and that was a lot of fun. My wife and I are really involved in our church, Elizaville Baptist Church. We really enjoy family and our time together, too.”
Any favorite TV shows right now or show on Netflix you are binge-watching?
“I’ve never been on Netflix, but we do have cable. I’m a big History Channel guy. We don’t watch a lot of sitcoms. I do like Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and things like that.
Biggest driving pet peeve that people do?
“I don’t have any big driving pet peeves. I hate drunk drivers. Anything dangerous, really. The speed limit is like flying for me, so I get made fun of about that. After driving all these years though, I’ve seen just about everything.”
Let’s say you are stuck in a traffic jam or out driving in general, what are you listening to? Any favorite genres or bands that you were a fan of when you were younger?
“I don’t have a go-to radio station. That is my quiet time and when I think. I like the Eagles. My brother is a big Beatles fan, but I’m not over the top there. These days though, in the car, it is my quiet, decompression time.”
What would you say to a youth or young adult that is aspiring to be a police officer and serve in this way? What advice would you give him or her?
“Keep your goals in sight. Never forget what you want to do. It is hard to always make those good choices when you are younger because kids are kids, and I understand that. Believe it or not, I was one once. You have to make good judgement because you really aren’t invincible. You have to realize that the decisions you make today can affect you for the rest of your life. Just like today with social media, so many kids don’t realize that is forever. They make a bad decision and post something like a picture or say something they regret, but once it’s out there, it stays out there. I would say slow down and enjoy your youth too.”
To those who have reached that dream as a police officer and are on their first day on the job?
“Don’t ever let the badge or authority go to your head. You treat people like you want to be treated. Everyone has value. We are the police. We are not the jury or the judge. Don’t step outside of the guidelines and just try to be safe. I would say make sure to have situational awareness at all times, use you training and stay on your toes.”