Mark L. Hopkins
Mark Hopkins never imagined that his summers moonlighting as a cowboy for the R.E. Smith Ranch and Cinco Ranch would be the very location he would raise a family and find a 30-year career that he loved.
Born in Galveston, Texas to a construction foreman who was an avid horseman and a boutique entrepreneur, Hopkins inherited his father’s enjoyment of horses and competition, and was occasionally seen in rodeo competing as a bareback horse rider. During the summers, he would also work on the R.E. Smith cattle ranches all around Fort Bend County. Little did he know that his penchant for cows and horses would place him in the exact geographic location that would eventually become home.
It was thanks to his high school agriculture teacher that Hopkins realized he wanted to teach and work with kids. Determined to pursue a career in teaching, he headed off to Sam Houston State to major in education.
However, he put teaching on hold when he got married and got involved in the local volunteer fire department while he worked in construction and carpentry instead. He worked his way up to Lieutenant and then Chief at a time when the Hitchcock fire and police departments shared services and a building. There was a lot of crossover with the departments, which is where the law enforcement bug bit him.
Hopkins switched careers and attended the police academy at night and worked as an officer during the day. After three years, he became a detective.
But his continued desire to teach eventually took him to Hitchcock ISD where he became the shop teacher and assistant coach for the football and baseball teams. There, Hopkins found a mentor and friend in colleague Don Hynds. When Hynds left Hitchcock for Katy ISD, Hopkins realized he desired more than the small Hitchcock town could offer.
Not long after, Hynds reached out to Hopkins and explained that Katy ISD was in a unique situation as one of several local districts that had started a security department to work with their schools.
Hopkins jumped at the chance to head to the bigger district that already had 17,000 students and became one of the original five Security Specialists for Katy ISD.
By law, the specialists could not process or investigate incidents, nor could they carry a firearm, so they worked very closely with law enforcement agencies in each of the counties and cities that Katy ISD covered. They were not assigned to any one school and typically only handled after-action reports, monitored alarms, and wrote reports for insurance purposes.
As a result of the District’s exponential growth, Katy ISD’s Board of Trustees voted in December 1988 to commission a police department that would erase jurisdictional boundaries and allow the District to respond to student and campus related incidents. In January 1989, the police department was operational, and Mark Hopkins was named the first Chief of Police.
Under Hopkins’ leadership, the department implemented programs such as: the national D.A.R.E program; P.O.W.E.R., a drug free, bullying and safety curriculum; Explorers, a career exploration program; and a Campus Safety Task Force. The department also joined the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Regional Gang Task Force.
But far beyond the call of duty, these officers are mentors, and the department established Santa Cops, a program that provides gifts and clothing for children whose families may be experiencing hardship around the holidays.
The benefits of the Katy ISD police force and its leadership can be seen every day in and out of the classroom. Honesty, Compassion and Integrity. Words that describe the fiber of the Katy ISD Police Department and the man that held the position of Chief for 27 years.