PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The mourning band Master Sgt. Rick Schichtel wore on his badge Wednesday was not his. It belonged to Officer Steven Brown, one of the officers under his command.
Cleaning out the officer’s car, Sgt. Schichtel found the band and wore it for Officer Brown’s funeral. He left it in the casket.
“He did so many extra things. If you needed somebody to do something, Steve was there," said Sgt. Schichtel.
The 40 year-old Brown died last week after finishing a third day of leading outdoor activities at the Police Athletic League camp. That included an obstacle course at the Navy UDT-SEAL Museum. Officer Brown collapsed after returning home at the end of his shift.
“He was doing what he loved, right up until the end," said Sgt. Schichtel.
Traffic spilled out onto the streets as an overflow crowd came out to St. Bernadette’s Church to pay their respects. Officer Brown worked road patrol, but became a school resource officer at Treasure Coast High School.
“The kids adored him there. He worked out with kids, the football team on his lunch break. He did a law enforcement academy there," added Sgt. Schichtel.
It was a position Sgt. Schichtel said Officer Brown was uniquely qualified for.
“Obviously we want officers with good interpersonal skills, but we also want our most tactical officers at the schools to keep our kids safe. All of my SRO’s say to themselves “Nobody is going to hurt my babies today. That’s the way they feel, they live it, they preach it and they train for it.”
Officer Brown served 14 years with the Port St. Lucie Police Department. He’s survived by his wife and two children.