It was the 1960s when a police chief visited Darryl Breckenridge’s home to offer Darryl’s mother a job. During the visit, the chief placed his hat on young Darryl’s head. It was this moment that inspired Darryl to become a police officer.
Fast forward to the 1980s, when Darryl was driving through Asbury Park to get a haircut and he saw the red and blue flash of police lights in his rearview mirror. That night he was pulled over by police because of his skin color.
Fast forward to 2017. Darryl has been named Director of the Monmouth County Police Academy, after serving as Fair Haven Police Chief for 30 years — and recently, The Rumson Country Day School welcomed Director Breckenridge with enthusiasm at a private assembly for eighth graders.
The visit was arranged as part of the school’s efforts in the area of diversity, and to wrap up the students’ history unit on civil rights. Director Breckenridge discussed his experiences as an African American police officer, and addressed current racial issues among law enforcement.
Whether it was being pulled over, serving in the US army or entering the police force, Breckenridge recalls that respect and spirit allowed him to overcome the challenges he has faced as an African American against a backdrop of racial tension.
“The visit from Director Breckenridge opened our eyes to see different points of view,” said eighth grader Ainsley Gmelich. “It gave us the opportunity to ask difficult questions and to hear his story. I was inspired by his will to push through many obstacles to achieve his dreams.”
“Director Breckenridge was able to touch upon important topics that are mostly seen through the eyes of the media,” said RCDS history teacher Patrick Angeloni. “He was able to lead an open conversation that allowed our students to discuss these topics with someone who has a unique perspective from many years of experience.”
In addition to hosting guest speakers, RCDS presents The Middle School Diversity Summit each spring to create dialogue regarding equality, tolerance, and activism among students.