Rausch, former Chief of Police with the City of Knoxville, was appointed TBI director earlier this year, and shared his rise in law enforcement with Farragut High School students Tuesday, Aug. 28 as part of the Student Government Association’s Leadership Series.
Rausch described a modest upbringing in a large Catholic family, where he was the seventh of 10 children, who learned early on they would have to work hard for what they wanted.
“I learned from my dad the importance of having what you need, not what you wanted,” he said, as he related how his father worked a minimum of two jobs to support his family.
A native of Kentucky, Rausch said he began working in the sixth grade to pay for private Catholic school tuition, a dedication and determination that extended through high school, where he worked as a janitor, and into college, where he worked as a bellman in the hotel industry.
“I knew everything I needed to do, I had to do on my own,” he said, adding he also realized the value of an education.
He attended junior college, and with no one helping guide him through determining his career path, he had a general idea that he wanted to help people, which began with his mother’s careful teaching of “compassion and caring for others.
“She also taught us how to set goals, and that we could be whatever we wanted to be,” he said.
Rausch first considered human services, then contemplated law as a political science student at the University of Louisville.
“I learned a lot about government and how it was structured, and I was intrigued,” he said. However, “I talked to some lawyers and they were not really exciting, and I’m an action guy.”
Instead, he joined the U.S. Army after college, affiliating with the military police during his four years of service.
More education followed, gradually leading him to law enforcement. Rausch’s application to the police academy was accepted with the Knoxville Police Department, and he started there Jan. 25, 1993. “They asked us our names, where we were from and our goals,” he recalled. “Name is easy, where you are from, easy too. And most of the responses were short-sighted. But I said I wanted to be the chief of police.
“I paid for that,” he added with a grin. “I had to do a lot of pushups, and got reminded a lot that I wanted to be chief.”
Rausch did move up the ranks, until he was finally appointed interim chief in 2011 — and later received the post permanently, reporting directly to Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero.
Rausch also praised the leadership skills of SGA president Rebecca Fisher, who instigated the FHS Leadership Series last school year. Inaugural speakers were Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and former University of Tennessee Chancellor Beverly Davenport. “A leader takes information, and shares it,” he said. “Knowledge is powerful, but sharing knowledge is powerful.”