Like many students, Chief of the Bradley University Police Department Brian Joschko changed his undergraduate major several times before deciding on the one he felt fit.
Joschko completed his undergraduate studies at Marquette University, starting in electrical engineering, switching to civil engineering, thinking about accounting and landing in finance.
“I was majoring in finance for two years and I really didn’t enjoy it … I did not care for it whatsoever,” Joschko said. “And at that point, I was looking at probably another year of extra schooling because of the major switch from engineering to the college of business, and so I decided to help pay for school, I would start working for the university’s public safety department.”
After taking a part-time officer position, Joschko moved into a full-time dispatcher position and became a part-time student after a couple months.
“My fifth year of school, one of my really good friends said, ‘Why don’t you just switch your major to criminology and law studies or criminal justice because you like doing that and do what you like to do?'” Joschko said. “And I thought about it for a minute and was like, ‘Well that seems to be very wise and a good decision and a good recommendation,’ and so I did.”
Joschko said the switch completely changed his undergraduate experience.
“I switched it, and I was not a great student, I was probably a ‘C’ student at best in my undergrad, and the moment I switched to a major I actually enjoyed and fit me personally,” Joschko said. “I got straight A’s, and life was fantastic.”
Joschko said while his parents were not too pleased about the many changes in his studies, he thinks it was worth it because he met his wife in one of his criminology classes.
“I saw her maybe a month or two after she had graduated,” Joschko said. “I bumped into her and then we started dating, and then the rest is absolutely history. And so I know that is absolutely the way it was meant to have worked out, and I haven’t looked back on it since. It worked out really, really well for me. Now, I think my parents appreciate how long it took.”
Joschko made his way through the ranks as an officer at Marquette, and he said he loved his job there. But when he became aware of a police chief position opening for Bradley’s department, he wanted to apply because his wife is an East Peoria native.
“I knew that if my mother-in-law ever found out that I had an opportunity to apply for the position and didn’t, I would never be welcomed back into Peoria,” Joschko said. “And so I started looking at it, and I thought, ‘Boy, maybe that would be a really good fit for me.'”
Joschko’s wife is not the only connection he has to the Peoria area. His dad is a Bradley alumnus, and he watched his little sister graduate from Bradley in the mid-2000s in the old Robertson Memorial Fieldhouse.
“I applied, and it was a fun process to go through,” Joschko said. “It was a long process, it probably took four or five months, but it was a fun process.”
Joschko started working as BUPD police chief in June of 2011.
“I love interacting with the students; that is far and away my absolute favorite thing [about this job],” he said. “For me personally, I think it helps keep me young, or helps me think I’m young.”
Joschko said he treats interactions with students as educational moments.
“At the end of the day, it’s my belief that students are good people – maybe they’ve made some mistakes, and often times when police are dealing with students its not during the finest moment of the student – but I think deep down these are good students,” Joschko said. “[They] are going to go on and be great, productive members of society, and if we can treat [those situations] as a learning experience, then fantastic.”
The worst part about being police chief is handling the department’s budget, according to Joschko.
“Which is interesting because I used to be a finance major, so you would think that I would appreciate that more,” Joschko said. “Getting down into the fine minutia of operating the department, I can do it, but it’s not the part I look forward to every day.”
Joschko said during his time away from the police station, he is taking Bradley classes to earn his master’s degree in non-profit leadership.
“So the vast majority of the time that I’m not working on campus, I’m studying on campus,” Joschko said.
Students might also see Joschko at Bradley basketball games, as he’s a big fan of college basketball.
“I remember watching coach Brian Wardle play as a student when he was at Marquette,” Joschko said. “I have season tickets for Bradley Basketball … so for the students that are at the games, they will see me and my kids and my wife. We always enjoy that.”