(8 questions) A Conversation with Campus Safety

Defining themselves as educators, rather than the “party police,” this week, Campus Safety sat down with The Catalyst as first semester gets into full-swing to paint a full picture of a job that operates largely behind the scenes.

Below, Marty Toland, fully-sworn CSPD officer and Campus Resource Officer, and Tyler Koski, Campus Safety Officer and investigator of reports, discuss what it means to be a part of Campus Safety, their preparedness for the best and the worst, and why they keep doing what they do.

Interview by Samantha Silverman. Photos by Daniel Sarché.

Campus Safety Officer Tyler Koski
Campus Resource Officer Marty Toland

The Catalyst: What’s the first CC party story you’ll tell someone over dinner?

Tyler Koski: I came from midnights, so I was technically more involved with parties. One of the parties that stands out – I won’t give the address – but it was last year during last block… floor caved in… yeah. They’ve since got their floor repaired. That was a strange call to hear, “can you come here? The floor is caved in.” Everyone left after that. 

TC: Define safety.

Marty Toland: For me, safety is a couple of things. Now physical safety at a minimum, but it goes beyond that. I want people to be able to feel safe, do you know what I mean? What I mean is to feel safe to explore ideas, to express one’s own individuality. These are all important facets to safety. It has to start with physical safety, and as far as safety goes, it truly has to be a collaborative effort, just with the sheer amount of campus and us. So we find as many people we can partner with so we can get so we can get our message across. That’s what I’m all for: physical safety, but it’s beyond that. It’s emotional safety.

TK: We are here as sort of a liaison if you guys ever need to get in touch with counseling during regular or after hours or any needs students might require. So it’s a broader term.

MT: We know that college is a lot of people’s time away from the familiar. All of a sudden, you have people thrust into cultures different from themselves, and everyone has varying degrees of how they adapt.   

TC: For a Campus Safety officer on duty, what does your ideal weekend at CC look like?

MT: My ideal night is first of all, where nobody is hurt, first and foremost. But also to interact with the students in a variety of situations, because everything is situational and everything is fluid. The more chances I have to interact with students and the campus community as a whole – but specifically the students – in a variety of situations, I can kind of humanize myself and have people get to know me rather than just a police officer. That would be my ideal shift, no matter what shape that would take; positive interactions.

TC: What, do you believe, is the most common misconception students have of Campus Safety?

MT: If I can just take a part of that and say police. I think the biggest misconception – as far as me personally – is maybe that we are just here to bust them. That we are just waiting for them to party too loud or drink too much and make a mistake, or whatever. I want to make sure every interaction is 1, a positive interaction, and 2, a teaching moment. It’s no secret that we’ve had a lot of problems— we’re talking nation wide in the past year or two – with police shootings and officers, and these need to be looked at critically, without a doubt. With police work, we need to be scrutinized and be held to a high standard, but I would also like people to understand that while these situations have happened with police work, it’s hard for me to comment, because the preconceived idea to bust people is not out our philosophy or why I’m here. It’s truly to keep people safe, to educate, and to interact. So that misconception is the one I would like to break down the most.

TK: As for really all of campus safety – except for Marty – we are not sworn officers. We are not police, we are not armed, we do not wear vests. The most I can do is throw keys at someone or my radio. We’re here for everybody at the college to ensure there is a safe environment, that they can come here and not have to worry about something happening

TC: Give one piece of advice to the freshman class.

TK: If you have a bike, register it with Campus Safety and use a U-lock. We’ve had about three or four [thefts] in the past month, and they were all cable-locked.

MT: We’re hoping to get in the Catalyst on this one, but the U-lock is so important. We’re doing our best to campaign, to patrol, but they’re all cable locks, which you can cut through so easily. I hate to see a student deprived of something that’s theirs – or even anyone, because it’s their property.

The other thing would be involved with the alcohol and the partying. I get it, you’re at college. It’s a brand new vista opened up.

TK: Know your limits.

MT: Know your limits. It’s still illegal to drink if you’re under 21, and I have to say that because it’s the truth. But just be careful. Be careful of your limits, keep somebody with you; there’s a lot that goes with alcohol safety and partying responsibly. I have a whole subject on it I’m going to go around to all the residence halls giving talks. There are so many people— not just at this college, but at colleges across the country— where I’ve seen horrible things happen where somebody drank too much and made horrible decisions. There’s just a lot of negative things that can come from excessive drinking. Sometimes you have to do the brave thing and not cave into peer pressure 

TK: Make an intelligent decision. You guys made it to CC. You’re intelligent. 

TC: Is there any piece of training you have but have never had to use, and are there any situations for which you didn’t feel fully prepared?

MT: I would say I’ve been prepared for everything I’ve encountered. Thankfully, the one thing I’m prepared for but have never had to use my training for is for active shooters. Thankfully, and I hope we never see that, and the chances of that happening here are infinitesimally small, but we have to be prepared just in case something like that happens, because the time to figure something like that out isn’t when it happens. Anyone who pays attention to the news knows that school violence seems to be on the rise, so that’s the one thing I prepare for, have never had to use, never expect to use, and hopefully will never had to.

TK: One of my first calls when I was on midnights was actually a suicidal ideations call. I hadn’t received any training just yet, because I was brand new, but that was eye-opening to see. I was relatively young and [they were] close to my age, which threw me a little bit. But we handled the call, and that person was able to get the help they needed.

As for the second part, I haven’t had any other situations that I didn’t have the training for. We had a bike theft at Slocum one night, and the training I have had my whole life allowed me to make a citizen’s arrest and we got that bike thief arrested, which was good, because you don’t really ever get anyone arrested on scene.

TC: Describe your job as a movie title.

MT: “Tales of the Unexpected”, how’s that? No, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Let’s go with that, go way back in time.

TK: See, I’m usually behind the computer a lot doing video footage, so I can’t think of any movies about that… sitting and watching videos. It’s definitely not “The Ring”, that’s a terrible movie. I don’t know, it’s a hard question. Can you think of any movies that would be like that? “The Titanic?”

MT: I mean, it’s fantastic here. There are days of frustration, but that’s just life. Overall, it’s just been great. It’s a wonderful life.

TK: When I was on midnights we’d call ourselves the Night’s Watch from “Game of Thrones.”

TC: What’s next?

MT: In my opinion, it’s the continued education throughout the whole college environment – as far as students, faculty, and staff – on ways they can be safe all the time. Safe in their belongings, safe when they move off-campus, safe in their properties, everything that safety entails. The more education, the more buy-in, the better. Because as you said, every year you have a class graduating. Every year you have a new group coming into this environment, so it’s something that’s continual. So I would say what’s next is continued education from everybody on this campus

TK: The constant improvement in the relationship between the campus community and campus safety so everyone’s sort of working harmoniously together.

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