Since December 2007, Matthew Browning has been a volunteer firefighter with the Crothersville-Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department.
And since July 2015, he has served as a reserve officer with the Crothersville Police Department.
Now, he earns money while working for one of those departments.
The town council recently agreed to hire the 33-year-old to fill a full-time police officer’s position. That brings the department to full force with four full-time officers, and Interim Chief Brent Turner hopes to soon have four reserves.
“It’s a game changer,” Browning said, smiling. “When you’re a kid, you’re like, ‘I want to be this, I want to be that.’ My mom, she said when I was 9 or 10, that’s what I wanted to be is a firefighter and a cop. Now, I’m doing both. That’s awesome.”
Browning recently resigned from his job as a welder with Toyota Industrial Equipment Mfg. in Walesboro, where he had worked for five years. He plans to make a career out of being a police officer and continue as a volunteer firefighter.
“I’m trying to do the best for my family,” the married father of four said.
“I’m definitely thankful that they chose me for this. It’s great.”
The council approved Browning’s pay at $13.50 per hour.
The town will pay for all of his expenses to attend the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield. Officers have one year from the date they are hired to complete the academy, which offers three sessions per year.
Since one Crothersville officer is going through the academy now and another one starts in November, Browning said he likely won’t go there until sometime next year.
Browning grew up in Adena, Ohio, before moving to Indiana, settling in Hope and Columbus.
He graduated from Columbus North High School in 2001 and earned his commercial driver’s license from the Truck Driver Institute in 2004.
After moving to Crothersville, he decided to fulfill his longtime dream of being a firefighter and a police officer. He follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, who was a firefighter, and his uncle, who was a police officer.
During his time with the fire department, he has been medically trained and participates in the required two hours of training each month.
“We have to keep up on (training) to keep our certifications,” Browning said.
“The way things change nowadays with vehicles and all of that, we have to have a lot of training.”
With nearly 10 miles of Interstate 65 running through Vernon Township, the department responds to a lot of calls.
“It’s very active. It’s a busy department,” Browning said. “We have a lot of calls a year.”
His service with the fire department led to him expressing interest in being a reserve police officer.
After being sworn in July 11, 2015, he took 40 hours of pre-basic training.
“I tried a few times to get on, but it just didn’t work out,” he said.
“Then once I finally got the opportunity, I ran with it, and I love it. This little community right here, it’s a great community. I love being here, and I like the people here. If I can be a part of helping it even get better, I would love to do that.”
In mid-September, Richard Hanlin resigned as chief to take a deputy marshal job in Spencer, and the council appointed Turner as interim chief.
That left a spot open on the force, and Browning talked to Turner about it and decided to apply.
Turner said as a reserve officer, Browning put in about 100 hours per month.
“He has done us well,” Turner said. “He has brought a little bit of the younger generation for us, that’s for sure, a little bit of knowledge on what the younger kids are doing. He has moved us up. He loves his community.”
Browning said he has liked interacting with the community.
“We’ll do walks in uniform and talk to people in the community, ask how things are going, talk about issues and look into it,” he said.
“That’s awesome that you have people actually willing to come up and say, ‘Hey, we’re having problems. Can you look into it?’ And we do.”
Browning said he has been fortunate to have the support of his wife, Brandy, as he has pursued careers with the fire and police departments.
He said he is excited about continuing to work with the other police officers.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s going to progress now,” he said.
“Now, we’ve got four full-time guys, and we’re about to have four reserves, an eight-guy staffed department. I think we’re going to have some pretty good coverage. I think it’s going to work out really well.”
Name: Matthew Browning
Hometown: Adena, Ohio
Education: Columbus North High School (2001); Truck Driver Institute (2004)
Occupation: Recently hired as a full-time officer with the Crothersville Police Department; also serves as a volunteer firefighter with the Crothersville-Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department
Family: Wife, Brandy; four children