Retired Indy police officer becomes IPS teacher

Mike Elder worked on the IMPD force for more than 32 years. Now he's teaching 6th grade at Ralph Waldo Emerson IPS School 58. (Photo: WTHR/Rich Nye)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Mike Elder spent his career fighting crime. The retired Indianapolis police officer is patrolling a new beat this fall in a 6th grade IPS classroom.

"It gets on you always being in the negative all the time and bad situations," said Elder. "This gave me a chance to do some positive things."

Mr. Elder's 6th grade class at Ralph Waldo Emerson IPS School 58 is reading some heavy literature, "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. But the students at the school have to deal with heavy stuff.

"A lot of the students in this school walk to school,” said Elder. “Last year and early this year they've walked by some homicide crime scenes. That's part of the reality and why we need to talk about what's going on in the community with them."

Elder is teaching in retirement, after more than 32 with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. In fact, his first beat in 1987 was patrolling the streets in the school neighborhood.

Elder was an instructor with IMPD for many years and rose to the rank of captain. He often served as the public information officer at crime scenes in his final years on the force.

"For the longest time, it was trying to help people, but usually on the back side of bad problems," said Elder. "So now — and especially with 6th graders — they're starting to transition into adulthood. So, it's a chance to get on the front side."

Elder brings over three decades serving the community to his first year in the classroom. He transitioned to his second career through Indiana Teachers of Tomorrow.

"Working with youth — it's great and teaching and actually learning as much from them as I hope that they are learning from me," said Elder. Life lessons are taught by a street-smart teacher.