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A law enforcement family affair
Reed family serves community together
Reed family police officers
Pictured from left to right are Taylor, Kyle and Nicholas Reed. Taylor and Nicholas are officers for the Great Bend Police Department, and their father Kyle is a sergeant with the Ellinwood Police Department after more than 25 years with the Barton County Sheriff’s Office. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

For the Reeds, a family’s life in law enforcement all started with an old Kansas Highway Patrol car in the 1970s.

The father, 57-year-old Kyle Reed, tells the story of a passion for law enforcement that began young, with a boyhood neighbor with the Kansas Highway Patrol who would turn his lights and siren on for the eager young man, inspiring him to install a red light on his own bike. Kyle began his own career as a part-time reserve deputy for the Barton County Sheriff’s Office in 1989, being first offered a job by then-Barton County Sheriff Jim Daily. He graduated from the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Academy in 1994.

Kyle’s career was well underway when his first son, Taylor, came along. Taylor Reed, now 27 years old, has been a Great Bend police officer for four and a half years. After spending his childhood watching his dad, he does not recall ever wanting to be anything but a police officer. 

“Ever since I was a toddler, I’ve known in my head what I wanted to do with my life,” Taylor said. “I was always looking up to my dad.”

As a youngster, Taylor remembers being fascinated by the lights, the uniforms and the badges. He continued to be drawn to the profession as he matured because of the role officers play in the community.

“I love being the one that (people) call for help,” he said.

Taylor never saw his younger brother, Nicholas, following their footsteps into law enforcement, but Nicholas, now 22, said the idea was always in the back of his mind growing up.

“Having these two around, and hearing them talk about it all the time, it rubs off on you,” he said.

So Nicholas decided to also commit to a career in law enforcement, hoping to follow in his dad and brother’s footsteps as a role model in the community. Nicholas recently joined Taylor as an officer with the Great Bend Police Department, the first new hire under current GBPD Chief Steve Haulmark.

The realities of law enforcement life

Knowing they were looking at careers in law enforcement, Kyle prepared his sons from a young age for the often harsh realities it entails.

“You’re going to see three-fourths bad and a quarter good; there’s a lot of stuff you’re going to see that you don’t want to see,” he recalls telling his sons. “Be strong, but don’t be afraid to talk to somebody.”

Kyle said managing the mental health challenges inherent in a law enforcement career becomes one of the job’s greatest challenges.

Taylor said the human side of police officers is one thing people may not always see or think about.

“We’re people, and we’re not perfect,” he said. “We have to put on this mask every day, but we have our own problems, just like everybody else does.”

Along with that, Taylor said, the job often requires them to encounter death and tragedy in ways that would be hard for most people to imagine. Add to that an increasingly negative public perception of law enforcement, and Taylor said it often makes the job a difficult one to do. There’s always the danger that something as seemingly routine as a traffic stop can turn into a life-threatening situation.

“The mental health affects everything. It affects the relationship you have with your family, your friends, your (household), all of that,” he said. “And that’s what the public doesn’t see, what’s going on in (the officer’s) head.”

Taylor, like his father, said being willing to talk about the experiences is crucial.

“(The stress is) a bag, and eventually, it’s going to overflow,” Taylor said.

For the Reed family, having each other to cope with the daily stresses of the job has been vital.

“They can relate to what you’re going through, because just talking about (the day), getting stuff off your chest (really helps),” Taylor said.

“It makes a difference,” Nicholas said. “Especially when you can talk to them about work, and they definitely understand.”

While Nicholas, recently out of the academy, has not yet seen all his dad and older brother have, he acknowledges those days will come. And when they do, “It’s important to have these guys on my side.”

The rewards of the job

For all the difficulties the job brings with it, all three say the work has plenty of rewards, as well.

Kyle said during his years with the BCSO, he loved interacting with the community’s youth. With the permission of parents, he recalled, he would give away toys his own sons no longer played with to community kids in need.

Like his dad, Taylor said he loves working with the kids, because it takes him back to his own days as a youth.

“Not too long ago, that was me sitting there, fascinated by the police cars. I was obsessed with it, so I like to give back and get to know all the kids,” Taylor said.

Also, Taylor said, he is driven by the desire to make a positive difference in the community. He said he hates seeing people become victims of crime, and he wants to do everything he can to keep those crimes from occurring in the first place.

All three also said the communities they work in, Great Bend and now Ellinwood, have great law enforcement leadership in Haulmark and Ellinwood Police Chief Chance Bailey. Kyle now works full-time in Ellinwood, and Taylor works part-time there in addition to his full-time work in Great Bend.

Taylor also said the community and its residents, on the whole, are extremely supportive of its officers, and he is grateful for that support, especially given the more negative climate toward law enforcement that exists in some larger cities.

Kyle said he’s proud of both of his sons, and said his daughter, who is currently 15, is also beginning to consider a career in law enforcement.