As the Director of Public safety, in what ways do you interact with students?
Public Safety is seen as an enforcement agency in a lot of ways. The biggest part of my role is to change that perception of this department. Because really we’re engaged in the safety of the students, with the students. I’m much more about being an ambassador for the department and for the mission of safety than I am about enforcement of any one rule or another. You know, clearly, if a student violates a rule or code, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. That’s our function. But at [Saint Michael’s], our student discipline is restorative — learning from and correcting mistakes in order to move forward.
What do you enjoy most about the work you currently do?
There’s so much that I like about this place. The positive interactions and openness everyone has about making things better, in particular, is something I really admire. Even when things are working and you present a new idea, people are still energetic to make things better.
What’s been the most rewarding experience you’ve had with a student?
This past year, parking was a real issue due to the construction of the new residential hall. It wasn’t really thought out in terms of the effect it was going to have on the campus. My response to that was, hey, let’s get the Student Association involved and have them be the guiding principles of how we can do this better. So I asked them for help. It was collaborative. It was engaging. They came back with a lot of good ideas that we eventually put into place. So that was a really positive experience I had while working with students.
What other interesting jobs have you held prior to St. Mike’s?
I’ve always been involved in public safety throughout my career. I’ve been on Essex Rescue, a member of the Coast Guard, a member of the critical care transport team at Fletcher Allen working in the emergency room, an assistant medical examiner (death investigation), and an Essex police officer. I even own my own consulting company. At any given time, I’ve had between three and five different things going on at once.
What advice would be valuable to pass on to current students?
There is a lot of negative focus in the media today on our country’s public safety officers. Something I really want to students to understand is that, while there are clearly instances of officer misconduct, the vast majority of public safety officers are good people whose passion and mission is always to protect the public. Despite the occasional high profile case, most days, hundreds of thousands of police officers perform their duties with respect and concern for everyone they deal with.
Were there faculty or staff members who were influential during your college experience? In what ways?
Because I’m naturally a problem-solver, I’ve always had an urge to fix issues on my own. Early in my career as a police officer, I was never a veracious ticket writer but I wrote a little more just because I was younger and I knew the law and how to enforce it. But as a I grew older, I learned new philosophies through my own experiences to become the person I am today. When I was getting my business degree at Champlain College, for instance, I was surrounded by people who didn’t think like cops. And that was really good for me. I was seeing a different aspect of life and realized that my way was not the only way. So through my college experience, I was exposed to a lot of different leadership styles that sort of helped me figure out my own philosophy on public safety.
What are some of your favorite activities outside of work?
I probably put in between 60 and 70 hours of work a week, so when I’m not involved with any of that, my focus lies with my family. I’m very outdoorsy and love to bike and hike. If I had more free time to work with, I’d love to go to more concerts.