Q: Tell me about the incidents where a car passes by and they shout some rude words to the students. How many incidents have there been?
A: We have had a total of 3 incidents. What usually happens in those situations is campus safety responds and takes a statement from the student, or any of the people that have witnessed the incident, we then document it in our report, campus safety report and send it off to Exeter Police department, and then I follow with what they call the OIC, the officer in charge at the Exeter Police department to see what progress they made in the investigations and the two cases that happened.
Q: What was the biggest threat you’ve faced in Exeter or security issue?
A: Actually it has been pretty good; we have had incidents where the students were in the possession of a controlled drug or in possession of alcohol, I’d say that has probably been the biggest issue involving students. From another perspective of campus safety, obviously it is our job to keep the students safe. If we have people that come on campus that don’t belong on campus and we work very closely with the Exeter Police Department to issue “no trespass” letters, so if we issue a “no trespass” letter somebody on campus, we give a copy to the police department that serves as an official warning so if they do come back on campus they are subject to arrest under the criminal trespass statue.
Q: What is something you have learned from your job?
A: Something I have learned from my job… that is a great question. I guess, don’t assume anything, would probably be the best.
Q: What is your favorite thing that happened while working in Exeter? And what’s the worst thing that happened?
A: Let’s see. My favorite thing I think would probably be the first graduation I attended. It was really exciting to see the students [at] the culmination of four long hard years.
Worst thing… Anytime somebody gets hurt or somebody gets injured, whether it’s a faculty member or a student. So we try to make every effort, to keep everybody safe, obviously with all the construction going on campus now we have a heightened level of alertness and making sure that everybody is safe.
Q: You said you had an experience with law enforcement, what experience did you have?
A: I retired after 23 years as a captain with the Nashua New Hampshire Police Department. I’m initially from Massachusetts, but I went to college up here, my undergraduate up here, and then I got hired by Nashua Police Department my senior year in college, so I went right from college right in to being a police officer.
Q: If someone offers you a job somewhere else, will you leave Exeter?
A: What is this? Is someone ready for my job? Is that what you said? Why, you want it?
Q: If someone offers you a better job?
A: I don’t think there is a better job. That is a very good question; I don’t think there is a better job. I’m very fortunate to have this job.
Q: For how many years and where did you train?
A: So I received training from the New Hampshire Police Academy where I first got hired in the Police Department. I would take up too much time to tell you all the training I had. I have worked undercover for seven years, I have worked in major crimes, I was the commander of the SWAT team, I was the commander of the bomb unit. So I received training relevant to that. Crisis negotiation. And also, after I left the police department I worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland Citizens Bank for eight years, I was the head of security there. So I had a lot of training in camera placement, alarm systems, things like that.
Q: How many days a week do you work?
A: Well, I’m supposed to work five. But I work a lot more than that. I’m on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. So if something happens on campus I am notified. But I am usually here from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon, for at least five days.
Q: What don’t you like about your job?
A: There’s not too much I don’t like about it. I worry about the crosswalks because we have a lot of students who cross, and not everyone pays attention, so that keeps me up at night. And the fact that we have an open campus, I will call it a high school and a college campus, so it’s difficult to secure the campus, to keep people who don’t belong here.
Q: What would you say is the most common thing you get called about?
A: Lockouts. If we had a dime for every time, I could probably put one of you through college.
Q: As a former law enforcement officer, do you have any thoughts on the recent shooting of officers in the United States?
A: Being a police officer I was very proud to be a police officer, I still find that does it. Whenever there’s a black eye in law enforcement, I think all law enforcement officers take it personally because we all wear the same uniform and no matter how you look at it, we’ve been through similar training, we handle the same incidents, it is a brotherhood. So when we see that a police officer didn’t use proper discretion or when they made a decision that was wrong that affected people’s lives, it hurts all of us. And the backlash also, I mean when I saw the incidents of police officers that were shot and killed, I was very sad and I’m sure most law enforcement officers, probably all of them would feel the same way because we know what it’s like to go to work every day and to put a bullet proof vest on, strap a gun on and get called so people don’t know what to do. When you go to work every day, you hope to come home every night, so it’s really unfortunate when that happens. I’m not condoning anything but there are bad police officers, there are bad teachers, bad kids, I mean that’s the way it is. The main part of the job is to make split second decisions and then be judged by a jury later on, but that’s the way it goes, you have to be on top of your game, and there have been mistakes made.
Q: You said that you have to be ready to help at any time and be ready to make sure the kids are safe, so how does sleeping work for you?
A: So we have 24/7 coverage on campus so we have at least two campus safety officers on at all times, so if something happens in the middle of the night, I’ll get a call, usually if it’s something major that they want to either let me know. I’m part of the principal incident response team, so if it’s a critical incident, I need to report that and get the team activated. I’m always in touch with what’s going on. Even if maybe a Sunday afternoon and I’m home, mowing a lawn or something, I’ll stop and give a call to campus safety to ask like how things are going after an event like a big picnic planned or a big movement of students by bus or something, you know, I just call to check everything is okay. So there’s always somebody on campus. We monitor the emergency line and we also monitor the switch from where they come in, so there’s always somebody here.
Q: How old are you?
A: How old am I? How old do I look?
A: All right, I’m 56, thank you. Thanks for the compliment. If he said 75, I would’ve hit him.
Q: How often are the officers on duty?
A: All the time. They patrol, they’ll be checking doors, some of them have assignments, there’s certain things that we leave for them to do when they come on at midnight we have somebody who works midnight to 8. We have somebody that comes in at 8 and works till 8 in the morning.
Q: How many officers are there?
A: There’s 14 full-time and then we have about 6 part-time who will come in to fill in shifts when people are on vacation.
Q: What advice do you have for students to keep safe here?
A: This is a relatively safe campus, it’s a safe community, but we do have incidents. All I say is to be aware of your surroundings all the time. If you’re going to leave campus, make sure somebody knows. The best advice I can give is to put yourself in your parents’ place. You know if your parents call and can’t get hold of you, they go into a little bit of a panic mode. They’re going to call campus safety that ‘I can’t get in touch with my daughter or my son.’ If somebody knows where you are, it’s always easier for us to track you down. So that’d be my first word of advice. Around personal safety, just keep your valuables close to yourself at all times. I’m not so much worried about the students that are here; I think we have a great student body, but we don’t have any control on who may come on campus. Somebody may duck into the dining hall and grab a backpack, as they have in the past, hoping that there’s cash in it, and the big epidemic in New Hampshire. That leads to a lot of petty crime or thefts or burglaries, so just keep those items close to you and keep an eye on them. When you leave your room, make sure it’s locked. As you know, the dorms are secure 24/7 but that doesn’t stop someone from letting someone in, we had that happen in the past.
Q: Does campus safety service change on weekends? I remember my one experience with campus safety was when I got locked out of my dorm on a Saturday. It was raining, I was standing out there for a really long time, I was scared; it took a long time for campus safety to show up.
A: No, weekend service is the same but just remember to keep in mind that sometimes there is only one officer who maybe patrolling, so we have priority calls. If we have an ambulance call or they maybe on one side of the campus doing a walkout and it takes them a little longer to get to the other side of the campus to let you in. I apologize for that. I do encourage them to get right out there. We have an office in the Academy Center now. We didn’t have that before and that allows us to give a quicker response rather than being down in campus safety and have to drive all the way through the construction back up here. But since I’ve become director, I’ve had a great team and they’re all on board and what I call community in policing. I want them all to be proactive and interacting with the students. I want them visible on campus and with service right like I said earlier. Our job is to facilitate; we facilitate the students to learn, teachers and the faculty to teach and the administrators to do their job, so whatever we need to do to get those 3 things done, that’s what we do. If you have incidents when you waited for a period of a time, drop me an email and I’ll follow up. I don’t have to use your name but I’ll just find out. In most incidents I find out that the officer was tied up somewhere else and couldn’t get there right away. But I even encourage the dispatcher to call you back to say I’m sorry but it’s going to be a few minutes to get tied up to something else.