Monday, November 05, 2007

My Night with Public Safety

Last Friday I had an amazing experience: I got to ride along with one of St Olaf's Public Safety officers for a couple hours!

Most people I've told that to look at me strangely and question my sanity. A few have seen it from my perspective, as something that was actually really fun, and at the same time also educational.

How did this come about, you might wonder? A week and a half ago, while I was working SafeRide, I was sitting in Fireside and a Public Safety officer came through to lock up. I explained I was still on duty, and we talked for a while, me asking questions about what his job is like, etc. I also asked if they ever let students ride with–I have no good or legitimate reason to do so other than pure interest in the experience, but I thought, hey, why not at least ask? Turns out that they do on occasion let students tag along! And even better, this friendly officer said he'd be willing to let me come with some time, I just needed to arrange it with Fred Behr, the director of Public Safety.

So last week I went in to talk with Fred, expecting that I'd need to come up with some really good official reason for wanting to ride along. As it turns out, I'd no sooner stepped into his office after Donna [Hunter, the "Parking Office lady" whom I go in to chat with every now and then] introduced me before he simply asked "when do you want to do it?" No hard questions, no complicated reason needed (though I'm sure it helped that I'd been introduced as one of their SafeDrivers), just the question of when and with who.

And thus, I got to ride with Officer Murphy last Friday, help lock up Buntrock, Dittman, and Speech-Theatre, tag along as he responded to a call in Ytterboe which I'm not sure I'm allowed to discuss, and ride around the campus in the jeep, in the process learning a lot more about what their department does to keep us safe, as well as how to focus on being more alert about my surroundings and such. To the average St Olaf student it may sound quite mundane, but in all seriousness I have to say that was one of the most fun nights I've had in a long time!


Anonymous said...

They may not let just anyone ride along, but in doing so, they probably also realize the safety lessons they can teach to others through you. By writing about it on your blog, you may be helping someone else on campus be safer in general and/or avoid a dangerous situation. I'm glad you had this experience!

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