Pacific welcomes three new Campus Public Safety officers
The Office of Campus Public Safety (CPS) is an on-campus organization tasked with maintaining the security and safety of students and staff on-campus. Recently, three new officers accepted roles in this vital department and have been working to make the spaces on-campus all the more safe and enjoyable. With diverse backgrounds, work histories, and insights into how to further improve campus safety, The Pacific Index was curious about what these three will bring to Pacific University.
Shelly Hahn: Officer Hahn received a criminal justice degree from Western Oregon University. She worked at a juvenile institution housing males 14 to 25 in Washington State for almost 27 years. Hahn said that there was “never a dull moment.” She enjoyed when juvenile offenders became the focus of success stories, but lamented when some would go on to commit “pretty serious crimes.” Eventually, this facility closed its doors for good, and Hahn traveled to Oregon in search of a better workplace—which is how she landed at Pacific.
Hahn describes the difference as a “night and day” in terms of atmosphere and attitude. She said that students not thinking of CPS officers as “necessarily the enemy” supports the department and encourages trust while warding off hostility. Hahn emphasized that CPS officers work to keep students safe and able to focus on education without having to worry about threats to their safety. She also wants CPS to do more outreach to students that involves fun rather than just seriousness. She mentioned that students should be courteous to each other and continue to create a welcoming and supporting community. She also encourages students to call CPS if ever a concern arises. Lastly, Hahn said that “right now, … CPS does a really good job at keeping people safe.” However, more lighting in dark areas and more security cameras could help improve the campus further.
Caleb McGee: Before joining Pacific’s CPS department, Officer McGee had a long, storied tenure at a Target store. Working there for over ten years, he occupied many positions including cashier, HR, and customer service. He then worked in the security department of the department store, scanning the store for thieves. McGee described this position as having positive aspects such as “driving safety culture” and supporting the safety of others in the store. However, he “was ready for a change,” and since McGee and his family have many ties to Forest Grove, he chose Pacific University as his next destination.
McGee graduated from Pacific with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts with a photography concentration and a minor in business. He finds the position as a CPS officer to be “a lot more relaxing” than his former job, which surprised him at first. He reflected, “I always have a smile on my face.”
McGee enjoys the welcoming environment and positive atmosphere of the campus, and he enjoys visiting his family in town and “walking around campus with students.” His insights into safety on-campus were mostly positive. He said that “we’re pretty close” to having a truly safe campus, stating that, although the current CPS team is small, they do their best to maintain safety throughout the campus, peace of mind for students and staff, and a positive atmosphere. He advises students to keep in contact with CPS, including when wanting a ride from one location (such as a car) to another location (such as a classroom or dorm room), and to call CPS whenever they feel in danger.
Gerardo Garcia: Garcia was looking for a change when he decided to join CPS. Previously, he attended Tigard High School before working as a retail manager, dealing with people and products. After a while, he decided to change his career path and “make a difference instead of … dealing with customers in retail, sales, and collections.”
At first, he worked as a campus safety officer at the University of Portland, gaining experience in security before arriving at Pacific. He described Pacific as having “quite a bit of a different atmosphere” compared to his former work location. Having lived in Forest Grove for seven years, Garcia said that the atmosphere of Pacific is “a little more mellow, a little bit calmer, … the overall feel of the community here is … a lot easier and better for myself.”
He explained that his commute to the University of Portland was about 45 minutes, while his current commute is only about three minutes. He also stated that it is “a change of pace” from his previous position, and that he is fond of everyone here.
The people on campus “make my job easier,” Garcia remarked. He was surprised by how close the community of Pacific is: “Everybody knows everybody’s name, and that’s very different from what I’m used to.”
Gerardo sees a challenge in CPS being a small department trying to maintain safety and security across a large campus. He suggests that having “more eyes and more staff members” could make lighter work of this big responsibility. Also, he stated that “no call is too small” to make to CPS, encouraging students to use CPS as a safety resource whenever fear arises.
Garcia also encouraged more interaction between CPS and the Pacific community, stating “I feel that we can do a better job of reaching out to students and staff and faculty members.” This would increase the relations between the department and the community, making the job of maintaining safety easier and furthering the positive atmosphere he admires while discouraging negativity towards CPS. Garcia said that it is “a misconception that we’re here to get people in trouble. We’re not here mainly to get people in trouble, but to build relationships and help everyone out that needs help.” — Troy Pigman