A “little nudge” to try something different led to a career
he loves and the adoration and respect of his family — and it has made Travis
Kreun an Everyday Hero.
Travis began working in plumbing with his father when he was still in high school, and continued to do so while he attended Georgia Southern University for a short time. He received his plumbing license, but found that he didn’t really have any direction as far as his education was concerned.
Travis learned about service and a good work ethic from his dad, who had retired from the military after 23 years, and he liked being a plumber. But even so, he found he wasn’t happy in his chosen profession.
“I kind of wanted to continue down that line, but I didn’t know if I felt like, not that I thought I was too good to be a plumber, but I felt like I was capable of more than what I was doing at the time,” he said.
A market crash and not being able to work full-time gave him the nudge he needed to “go try something different.”
Travis and his wife, Tiffany, met when she was around 18 years old. The couple married in 2006, and they have three children: Caden, 9; Kyleigh, 4; and Kennedy, 1. His family was heavily on his mind when he considered his options for that something different. Tiffany was in nursing school, and he needed to work full-time.
After considering a military career and hearing his wife cry all the way home after they spoke with a recruiter, Travis determined that a life in the military wasn’t for him, or for his family.
“The moving every two years and being in a new place and never really having a stable set of friends or knowing what all is going on in a city because by the time you get settled, you’re up and going again. And Dad being deployed…it just wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted for my kids,” he said.
Kreun knew he wanted to help people, so he chose to go into law enforcement, with the goal of becoming a detective.
“I just feel like in today’s society, they (cops) get such a bad rep, because you only hear about the bad ones. But truly, his heart is in the right place. He went into this because he wants to truly make a difference. And he has made it to where wanted to be; he’s a senior detective now. He just took over as SWAT team leader. He’s worked hard to get there, and I think there’s not a lot of appreciation for that field. I think a lot of people just harp on the negative. They get such a bad rap and they don’t ever get recognized for the good that they do,” said Tiffany, who nominated her husband as an Everyday Hero.
After Tiffany graduated from nursing school, the couple moved to Warner Robins because Travis was offered a job at the police department there. During his time with that department, he was able to attend the police academy, and gain some practical experience as a law enforcement officer. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Reinhardt University.
Issues with the health of the couple’s son brought them back to Statesboro, allowing them to be near extended family in Effingham County as well. Travis went to work with the Statesboro Police Department and Tiffany was able, at that point, to go back to school to become a nurse practitioner. She now works as an acute care nurse practitioner.
Travis worked as an advanced patrol officer at the Statesboro Police Department, and when a detective slot opened up, he took the opportunity to advance into the position he’d always wanted. He is currently a senior detective with the Criminal Investigations Division, responsible for investigating a wide range of felony crimes and incidents. He is also the department’s only sniper, and is the team leader for the SWAT team. In that role, he is responsible for assisting the overall training and mission of the team, as well as equipment, resources and mentoring of team personnel.
In addition, Travis is certified as a general instructor and firearms instructor, assisting with the training mission of the department. He also oversees the department’s participating in 10-33, a federal program that brings much-needed equipment and resources to the department and the community.
Tiffany says her husband is quick to volunteer when there is an opportunity to learn a new skill or help his department.
“Every time something comes up, he wants to do it,” she said. “He just has to be the best at everything.”
But Travis says it’s so much more than being the best at something.
“It’s just that I have a hard time, if I see something that needs to be done, then I don’t like sitting around and waiting for someone else to do it. Nothing progresses that way. If there’s something that needs to be done, somebody has got to do it. If there’s a job to be done, you don’t wait for somebody else to do it. You go do it,” he said.
Tiffany also says her husband just doesn’t settle.
“He wants to work harder and push himself. That’s just his personality. It’s his daddy in him,” she said.
Tiffany also says there is much that her husband does that isn’t seen or recognized that benefits the entire community.
But Travis just smiles and says he simply enjoys his job.
“I like investigating. I like talking to people when I’m doing my job. I like helping other people,” he said, adding that he also enjoys helping other officers.
“I like putting puzzles together in the form of cases. I like not having anything and then finding out there’s a person involved and then finding that person when they don’t want me to find them and putting them in jail when they don’t want to go to jail. That’s enjoyable to me,” he said.
Travis also enjoys the SWAT team.
“I like having that close team environment. We all work as one unit,” he said.
The team works hard to prepare for the “what-ifs.” Travis acknowledges that the likelihood of a lot of the events happening that would involve the SWAT team may be slim, but he says that small chance is why the team exists.
“That’s why we’re here. That’s basically our function, the what-if. What if this happens? OK, we have a plan for that. We can do this. What if there’s another hostage situation? There’s always that chance. Either you’re going to be prepared for it or you’re not. The SWAT team is to be that preparation, and the sniper is a part of that as well,” he said. “Hopefully, it never comes to anything lethal, but if it has to, we’d rather be prepared than not.”
The team has gone to training conferences and worked with and competed against teams from all over the world, and Travis said he’s been in awe of those other operations, and proud of his own team.
“It’s given me a lot of cool opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. We’re swatting so hard,” he said, laughing.
As a sniper, Travis sees his role in two parts: the shooting part and the observation part.
“The majority of the sniper’s work is observation. We have eyes on, and we can see things that other people can’t see, and we can tell other people what’s going on. I may be 150 yards out, where I’m not in any danger, but I’m watching the rest of my team, who is only 3 feet from the door, and I can see, and tell my guys, ‘Be careful, he’s at the window, he’s looking for you.’ That’s the majority of what law enforcement sniping is, is going to be observation,” he said.
Tiffany and Travis are aware of the sacrifices that he makes as an officer and as a father. He has missed some important family moments because he was studying, training or working. But through it all, Tiffany says he’s been an amazing husband and father.
“It’s hard and it’s demanding on our family, this type of work,” she said. “I was a lot less scared when he was a plumber when he went to work. When he first went into SWAT work, I said, ‘Just don’t tell me anything until it’s over and I know everything is OK.’ It’s hard being a family member to that.”
Travis says his role as a father works hand in hand with his career as a law enforcement officer.
“I think being a good dad and good husband is important when you’re trying to be a law enforcement officer, because you have to show the same type of love and restraint when you’re dealing with kids. Being able to think about what you’re doing and the reason why you’re doing it, I think that’s key to being a good cop in general. You have to have concern for other people and want to look out for their welfare,” he said.
Tiffany said she nominated her husband because of all he does at home, on the job and in the community.
“I can’t think of a better example of an Everyday Hero for our community than our very own hero at home,” she said.
While he agrees that law enforcement officers are everyday heroes, Travis says he doesn’t see himself in that way.
“I’m not the guy that goes out and is there at the car wreck. I’m the guy that sits at the desk and after something happens, they call me to pull the pieces back together. The guys that are out there being the ones on scene, at wrecks, putting tourniquets on people that are bleeding out, restraining ladies that are trying to stab their husbands…those guys are the everyday heroes. They really are. I’m not. It’s just not what I do. I try to help them do their job. It’s my job to help them be the next team leader,” he said.
As for his future plans, Travis smiles and says he’s grateful for the opportunities that he’s had, and looks forward to what lies ahead. He plans to keep on “swatting hard” and supporting his team, and being the best detective, husband and father he can be.
“It’s crazy to me, sometimes still, that I get to go out, and they’re paying me by the hour, to go shoot ammunition that they pay for, and to blow things up and they’re paying me to blow things up, and they’re paying me to do it,” he said. “I like what I’m doing. I like investigating, I like talking to people when I’m doing my job. I like helping other people.”
Do you know someone who is an Everyday Hero? E-mail our editor at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us all about him or her…we’d love to feature your hero in an upcoming issue!