Campus safety officers: more than meets the eye

Leigh-Anne Clark, Staff Writer

Everyone has their own definition of a campus safety officer. There has been controversy around Wingate about the need for campus safety.  I shadowed a patrol officer during his night shift.  We started the night by driving around campus and checking out parking lots to make sure all cars were safely parked for the night.

Everything about the job seemed simple until he got the first call of the night. When he answered his phone with, “Campus Safety,” and the person on the other end started talking, the look on his face changed.

When we got in the car, I asked him what the problem was and he said, “Someone’s water is dirty.”  I laughed but then realized he was being serious. Yes, campus safety officers take maintenance calls.

It was at that moment that I realized what really goes into this job; these men and women are more than just officers of the law.

There were four qualities that stood out to me as I finished up the night shift with the officer: patience, understanding, helpfulness and caring.

When it comes to being a safety officer, patience is a required attribute.  From staying calm while an angry patron yells at you or just driving in circles around campus all night, officers are patient with the community of Wingate University.

They are trained to be quick to respond to dangerous situations. If the most dangerous situation is figuring out why someone’s tap water is brown however, patience is your biggest asset.

Safety officers must also be understanding. The levels of understanding change very quickly in this line of work. One minute we were listening to a woman complain about dirty water and the next we were racing off to help turn off a fire alarm at the Klondike. I was amazed at how quickly he changed his mind set and level of understanding.

Every job, no matter what you do, requires you to do some form of work. The definition of “work” may vary, but you still have to do something productive each day. As a patrol officer, you are required to make sure the community of Wingate is safe.

Most officers don’t care to elaborate on how much extra work they do for this community, but don’t let them fool you.  They do more than you think. “I love to help people, even if it is the smallest, simplest maintenance job,” said the night patrol officer.

What makes them great at their job is the joy they find in selflessly helping people in need.

Finally, a safety officer is caring.  In order to be patient, understanding and helpful, a safety officer has to genuinely care for the people he protects.

One of my favorite parts of the ride along was listening to the officer tell stories of his favorite calls.  Some of the situations he talked about were dangerous and exciting, but others were just little things to help Wingate University. One thing he said stood out to me, “we are here to help get you out of trouble, not get you into trouble.”

Many people see Campus Safety as a threat, but they are trying to look out for your best interest.  From the stories he told,

it was clear that his care for Wingate students and faculty is genuine. I’m confident he would do anything to help and protect them.

So the question is, “does Wingate University need campus safety officers?” Let me put it to you another way, “do you need your best friend?” Of course, you do. Without a reliable person to be there, you would fall apart. The same can be said for Wingate University. Our campus needs safety officers to help us get through the day and always feel safe.

Edited by Brooke Griffin and Danny Stueber

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