1.) How long have you been with the MUPD? I started as a full time police officer at Millersville University in 2008.
2.) Where did you go to school? What training did you undergo to become a police officer? I’ve taken some college, but don’t have a degree. I went to the police academy at HACC.
3.) Why did you become a police officer? I wanted a career that was interesting, meaningful and stable. When I retire I want to know that what I did for a living had importance beyond myself.
4.) Did you always want to be in law enforcement? No. I was a graphic artist for about 5 years. I had always respected police officers and the work they did but never considered it. When I met my wife I knew I needed something more stable to support a family. A friend of mine who is a police officer helped direct me through the process of applying to the Academy. Now I’ve been doing this for 5 years and can’t imagine doing anything else.
5.) What do you like most about working for the MUPD? Although the MUPD is a small department it offers a lot of services and has a lot of internal training that most departments of this size would outsource. That creates a lot of opportunities for the officers to learn and grow. Even though the physical size of campus is small, the school has almost 9,000 students plus staff. It’s a town unto itself so there’s always something going on.
6.) Do you enjoy being a police officer, why? I love police work. No two days are the same and you never know what’s going to happen. The career field is so diverse that you can always find something interesting to focus on. Other jobs I’ve had were very predictable. Once you learned the ropes you could just coast. Police work isn’t like that. It’s all encompassing, requiring so many different skills and talents. No one officer can ever master it all. There is always more to learn and work toward.
7.) What does your job entail? Patrol work is about knowing the community you serve and ensuring the quality of life for the citizens. One day that may mean watching an intersection that has been getting a lot of accidents. The next day it may mean patrolling in high drug activity areas. Another day it might be doing CPR on someone who just had a heart attack.
8.) Do you have any advice for students who are thinking about going into law enforcement? Prepare yourself now. Police officers are public figures. Your personal life is a reflection on you, your department and ultimately the community you serve. Some young people looking at this line of work think what they put on Facebook doesn’t reflect on their professional life. In another career that may be true, but not this one. The life you lead in private needs to be one you could be comfortable living in public. Also prepare your family. You’re going to miss a lot of holidays and special occasions. You’ll work strange hours and overtime. This isn’t a job you go to Monday through Friday. It’s going to change your whole life and you need to decide on your own if it suits you. It’s certainly not for everyone.
9.) What does being a Specialist entail? A Specialist is a patrolman that has additional skills or duties that occupy a significant portion of their time. Corporal Miller is also a specialist, though our responsibilities are very different. I am a firearms instructor, a defensive tactics and pepper spray instructor, a member of the county Crisis Intervention Team and take on some smaller additional duties like managing the department’s website.
10.) Is there any advice/knowledge you would like to bestow upon the MU students and/or community? Personal responsibility is a prized asset. Someone who takes responsibility for a mistake learns from it and adapts to overcome it. A person that dismisses it as being out of their control or not their fault stagnates and is destined to repeat it. Your future (or current) employers don’t expect you to be perfect. They expect that when a mistake happens someone will take responsibility, analyze it and correct it. That, and lock your door when you leave your apartment. The majority of burglaries in Millersville happen because someone left the door unlocked.
11.) Did you have to undergo a lot of extra training and/or schooling to become a Specialist? Yes. I go to about two weeks of training every year for my specialties. I teach classes regularly, which is a learning experience also. I enjoy the topics I teach and spend my personal time getting more involved with them. There is also a vetting process to get the Specialist designation where the candidate presents a portfolio of their work and defends their position.
12.) Is being a Specialist a lot different from being an officer? Specialists are still patrolman, we still handle calls like everyone else. The difference is that where my down time used to be spent patrolling, now it’s filled mainly with writing lesson plans and proposals or managing equipment inventory.
13.) What has been your most memorable experience thus far being with the MUPD? There are a lot of calls that I’ll remember forever, but the thing I’m most proud of is the design of the new police cars. I had spent some of my down time over one summer working up a few ideas that were presented to the Chief. Although we didn’t go with those designs, it got the department interested in a new look and I kept working on it until we decided on the final design. From what I’ve heard, it’s been well received. It was fun using my graphic design background.