Talking to the man
An interview with a campus security officer
Instead of averting your eyes when you run into security on a Saturday night, consider striking up a conversation. Campus security officers are people too, as I discovered during my interview with campus security officer and supervisor, Kevin Cooper.
How long have you a security officer on campus?
Cooper: I’ve been working here since 2006 and two years ago I made supervisor.
What does a typical day shift look like?
Cooper: When you get on shift you open buildings and escort students who need assistance getting to class, which is usually because of medical reasons, like crutches. We deal with a lot of lockouts during the day. Occasionally, we will get calls of suspicious looking people in places that are open, like Lowry or the library. That doesn’t happen too often though.
What does a typical night shift look like?
Cooper: You are interacting with a lot more people on night shifts because we are doing walk throughs of residence halls and responding to complaints.
What are security officers specifically looking for when driving around on weekend nights?
Cooper: We are looking for suspicious stuff. We watch for people from the town who are not supposed to be on campus. We patrol the parking lots to make sure that people are not messing with, breaking into or vandalizing the cars. We make sure that there aren’t illegal crimes being committed.
Do students frequently approach security officers saying or doing dumb things on weekends?
Cooper: We don’t really get students doing anything stupid other than if they don’t realize that a security officer is there. Sometimes students will walk past you, just drinking their beer talking about something that they probably don’t want security to hear.
Do you personally care how students perceive you?
Cooper: Absolutely, we always care. We care as a department and we care individually. We try to build a rapport with students and be able to joke around with them. We are trying to break the stereotype that we are just out there trying to bust students for doing bad things. It helps to have a good relationship with the students because if something happens, and there is a student witness, it helps that we can go to them for information.
Do you feel like you can relate to the students?
Cooper: Absolutely. People party on college campuses, I understand that and think that it’s fine. We try to give students the benefit of the doubt and only like to interject if either their safety, or someone else’s safety, is in jeopardy.
Another reason that we interject is because the police department has jurisdiction on the campus. If they see a crime committed they can cite you. So we, campus security, try to intervene before the police department does, because we are trying to save the students the headaches of trying to go through the court system. We are trying to approach students before they really get into trouble.
What do you like to do during your time off?
Cooper: I like to spend time with my girls. I have two little girls, five and seven, and they are the biggest part of my life.
Did you ever get into trouble with authority when you were growing up?
Cooper: Sure, I spent a lot of time in the principal’s office, my parents can attest to that. But nothing really major, just silly teenager stuff. I was always the class clown in school so I was always getting sent to the principal.
What was your first job?
Cooper: I worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken as the drive through cashier.
What is a goofy on-the-job anecdote?
Cooper: I remember one time, during my first year on campus, I rolled up on a group of kids who were drinking alcohol outside. I was in my golf cart but decided to go talk to them. As I approached them they started to laugh at me so I turned around just in time to see my golf cart rolling down the driveway. I didn’t tell many people about that but it was a long time ago so I think I’m safe now.