Big Ed makes a Big Difference

Standing at 6’7’’, you can’t miss Ed Richardson when he walks down the Lewis and Clark High School halls, where he’s a campus safety specialist, or strolling through city parks as a reserve officer with the Spokane Police Department. Perhaps the only thing bigger than his stature is his smile, bright personality, and heart for at-risk youth.

“My calling is to work with children in our community,” said Ed Richardson.

Ed, affectionately known as Big Ed, hails from Chicago, where he saw firsthand the devastation violence, drugs, and gangs could have on a young child’s life. His brother was involved with gangs and went to jail. As a result, Big Ed’s dad did everything he could to keep him out of trouble.

“Chicago wasn’t safe. I told him, ‘You’re not going to be in the streets with these crazy folks.’ He had no choice but to be nice and be good,” said Big Ed’s dad, Ed.

As a child, Big Ed immersed himself into cub scouts and sports. He played college basketball at Texas and Eastern Washington University. After graduation, he began mentoring kids. For seven years, he’s worked as a campus safety officer for local schools. Kids at Lewis and Clark High School know his door is always open. His office walls are a visual testament to the impact he’s making.

“Some of the kids call me a hoarder. I have letters kids have written me, photos of my life- to show kids this is what you can do. I don’t do it for the notoriety. I’m humble and just having fun.”

A few years ago, Big Ed enlisted a local artist to create a coloring sheet of himself. He uses the coloring sheets as an ice breaker for kids to open up.

“While they’re coloring, I sit there talking to them, and we figure out how we can fix the problems,” said Big Ed.

When he’s not working his day job, you’ll find Big Ed behind the wheel of a Spokane Police cruiser as a reserve officer. A reserve officer goes through extensive training before being allowed to join the force; however,

Big Ed volunteers his time, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s often asked why he doesn’t join the police department as an employee; His answer is always the same.

“I wouldn’t like it. It wouldn’t give me the freedom to do what I want and not be able to talk to the youth of Spokane,” said Big Ed.

Big Ed spends on average 150 hours a month as a reserve officer, connecting with kids and assisting officers on various calls for accidents, burglaries, and assaults. No matter what, he always makes time to ask people about their day.

“It’s just how I treat people. Some people may not have someone in their life who treats them with respect,” said Big Ed.

Big Ed never has a bad day or at least doesn’t show it. Kids are looking forward to seeing him, and he can’t let anything get in the way of making a positive impact.

“When kids walk away, I want them to know that he cares. He’s cool,” said Big Ed.

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