Former FBI agent Mr. Robert Depriest ’86 steps in as Director of Security


Jake Perdigon '24

Mr. Depriest has already overseen several changes to RE’s security policies and procedures.

The beginning of this school year has been defined by big changes. New teachers, a new interim head of school, and a new Director of Security: Mr. Robert DePriest ’86. In the first few months of his role, Mr. DePriest has already implemented a number of substantial changes, including new lockdown and fire drill procedures and tightened security protocols at the Upper School front gate.   

Mr. DePriest started at RE in his junior year of high school, along with Chief Operating Officer and Interim Head of the Upper School David Clark. Even though he only spent two years at RE, he said that “Ransom Everglades made a huge change in [his life]… and was able to give us a trajectory in life that we probably wouldn’t have had… [the opportunities] are significant.” The relationships he made lasted decades and eventually brought him back to RE, a place he considers home, with people he considers family.   

Mr. DePriest spent much of his career as an FBI officer, but his journey didn’t start that way. At first, his dream job was to be a biomedical engineer. Inspired after a knee injury playing football in high school, he wanted to design braces to be more effective for athletes. After some advice, he decided to study mechanical engineering at Catholic University. Post-grad, he ended up at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, becoming a nuclear engineer.   

In his new job, however, he found himself “bored out of [his] mind.” He ended up becoming a special agent for the NRC, doing investigations involving nuclear power plants, which led him to be recommended for a job at the FBI. Soon after he applied, he was quickly placed with the Bureau’s Florida division, where he worked cases relating to terrorism, gangs, and narcotics. If the phrase “FBI agent” brings to mind images of men in windbreakers knocking down doors and whisking people away like in “Criminal Minds,that’s what he was doing.  

After about 20 years, he ended up working in crisis management, where he saw some of the most devastating cases of the past decade firsthand. Between the Pulse Nightclub shooting, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, and more, he was tired, and he knew it was time to switch gears. After 21 years of service, he started working at the Pine Crest School as their director of security. And when the position opened at RE, he knew it was time to come back. 

Since arriving at RE, Mr. DePriest has been a visible presence on campus. One aspect of his presence that has surprised some students is the gun in his holster. Mr. DePriest said that he has personal and professional feelings about guns, but that they do overlap in some areas. “I never had any exposure to guns… very very limited before I became an FBI agent,” he explained. “To me, a gun is simply a tool. A gun is a phone, a pencil, a computer. It’s a tool. But it’s the only tool I have that can save my life and other people’s lives.”  

Mr. DePriest explained that making any campus safe involves establishing “concentric rings of security.” This means having an outer and inner perimeter that protect the school on different levels, and being vigilant about maintaining those perimeters. “Yeah, sometimes I bug you and make you wear your badge, but there’s a reason for that,” he said.  

Another way he intends to keep campus safe is by integrating Miami-Dade Police Department officers into campus, alongside the security officers students see on a day-to-day basis. “Before, [the officers] just kind of stayed up front, and nobody ever saw them,” Mr. DePriest said. “But no; that’s not what I want. It’s not just a matter of physical safety to me, it is a matter of an overall healthy safety culture. I want [students] to see that officer… and throw the football around.”   

Ultimately, creating “a culture of safety” is one of his major goals for his job at RE. He wants to create a community where students don’t just go along with basic safety procedures but embrace them as an aspect of RE’s culture. “If you see something that’s out of the ordinary, say something to someone,” he said. “If you are not comfortable saying it to that person, find an adult, find an administrator, find me. But don’t leave it!”  

For Mr. DePriest, having a culture of safety is key because it allows a community to stay vigilant and avoid complacency. “[People think] ‘it’s Ransom Everglades, nothing’s going to happen!,’” he said. “Well, it’s Uvalde, nothing’s going to happen. It’s Pulse Night Club, nothing’s going to happen. That’s the problem. Nothing is going to happen until it happens. I’ve lived that, and I would prefer it if you didn’t have to.”