Beyond the lines of duty

April 20, 2011

by Hayden Haynes & Rebecca Spence , STAFF REPORTERS

Recently on a ride-along with a Tech officer, he received a call. A student had invited a friend to Ruston for the weekend. While en route to Ruston, the friend was tragically killed in a vehicular accident. The student went to the police office where a Tech police officer sat down and comforted the student until a counselor and parents arrived. Small actions like these that few see show the compassion behind the badge of Tech Police.

Beyond the parking tickets, the police department is filled with workers who are unafraid to stop and talk to students and deal with needs outside of their job descriptions.

“The favorite part of my day is meeting with the people in our community,” Tech Police Chief Randal Hermes said. “I like just seeing what is going on with the students and relating to them.”

Hermes has been known to go to the gym about the same time each day, not only to workout, but to be immersed in the community so he can bond with the Tech family.

By creating these relationships, he said this allows him to discover problems and, if needed, begin to work on them. Hermes said he and his staff make deicisions every day to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone in the community. To maintain this safety, Hermes said he simply asks students to think before they act, which will improve the quality of life on campus as a whole.

“Pay attention to your instinct,” he said. “When something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right.”

By answering phone calls, catching up on the latest crime reports, traffic violations and issues from the previous day, Hermes’ time ensures that Tech remains the safe campus it always has been.

“We are very fortunate here at Tech that crime is so low,” Hermes said. “I give credit to everybody, to all of us working together. It’s a credit to the whole community of Louisiana Tech, the faculty, the staff, the students and the law enforcement, that we are able to keep crime really low.”

Around the clock, Hermes makes sure that his officers are patrolling and watching over every part of main and south campus.

During the day shift, Cpl. Mickey Anglin, a detective, said he gets more interaction with students while patrolling because of classes and daytime activities on campus.

“Day shift patrolling is a lot like just being visible out in the area and watching for traffic violations,” Anglin said.

Although he admits to writing many of traffic tickets because his job requires him to do so, he said he is simply trying to make things safe for students, faculty and staff.

In the larger picture, Anglin said justice must be given to each group equally, and the officers and ticket writers are just doing their job when issuing a parking ticket or traffic violation.

“We are here to enforce the law where it needs to be enforced, but for the vast majority of the students and the public that we deal with, we are here to help,” Anglin said.

With a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. schedule, Officer Steve Wilsek does not get to interact with students as much because many are sleeping or studying indoors, so most of his compassionate acts go unnoticed.

“If a student comes into the health center and has to be referred to a doctor or a hospital, and they don’t have a way to get there, I will take them there,” Wilsek said.

Wilsek shows compassion by issuing more Tech tickets than state tickets to the people he stops. Wilsek has every right to issue a state ticket to an uncooperative student, but he said he usually chooses to award the cheaper ticket because it teaches them without making them pay a much higher price. Wilsek said he does not give tickets because he likes to do so; he does it because he wants people to be safe.

“It is not only because it is a violation of the law, but it is also geared to teaching the person that they shouldn’t do that and the reasons why they shouldn’t do that,” Wilsek said, about writing tickets.

The department doesn’t just hand out citations and enforce laws; they also respond to calls about accidents, psychological/emotional situations, disturbances, and they even make bank deposits for on-campus enterprises.

During a daytime ride along, Anglin received a call that a student’s vehicle would not start. Anglin proceeded to go to the scene and jumpstarted the vehicle as well as giving the driver a word of advice on how to tend to the problem.

Anglin said they often receive calls from students with flat tires, and they will respond and change the tires for the students. Officers also serve as escorts with students late at night. Hermes said they are glad to help in most situations.

“My least favorite part about the job is when we cannot help people out because of financial constraints,” Hermes said. “Whether you are working with the school or with the city, there are some things that we just have to live with and work around.”

While many students may believe Tech Police are just out to give tickets, Hermes said law enforcement is a sure way to maintain a safe environment for the Tech family to learn and study.

“It may be difficult for the students to see or to realize, but there is a tremendous number of people on this campus who are in this for them,” Hermes said. “They come to work or to this campus every day to see how they can help or what they can do to help a student during their day.”

Email comments to jhh015@latech.edu or res022@latech.edu.