There are some new, friendly faces on the Mississippi University for Women campus this fall. The W’s police department has welcomed several new members to its staff who are here to protect and serve the students, faculty, staff and visitors on and around the campus.
Chief Randy Vibrock is excited about having new people in the department.
“The new police officers bring different experience to our department,” said Vibrock. “They bring variety, not just in experience, but in age as well.”
Vibrock said it’s important to have younger officers, seeing how the department is serving a community of young students whose needs might be different from those who aren’t in an academic setting.
Campus police officers are called upon to do a variety of things — they issue tickets, enforce security and investigate any crimes that take place on campus. But they also help students and university employees in other ways, such as helping students with dead batteries, unlocking cars when keys are left inside and ensuring safety in campus buildings after dark.
Several college campuses around the country have experienced violence, and seeing a strong police presence on and around the campus can be comforting to parents, students and faculty. The department began a service last year called Night Owls in which people on campus who need a ride at night can call and be picked up at buildings on campus and safely escorted to another location. It’s part of not only helping people to feel safer, but also a way to serve the campus and those who live and work here.
Three of The W’s newest officers talked about their roles, and how they are now part of a team that works to serve and protect the campus.
Devon Strong is one of the new patrol officers. Patrol officers work out on campus, as opposed to dispatchers, who usually stay in an office and route calls and information. Patrol officers are often seen in campus police vehicles or in W golf carts. As a patrol officer, Strong ensures that no harm will come to those on campus or their property.
Strong has had several years of prior experience. He was previously an officer for the Columbus Police Department for two years. He also served as an officer for more than six years with the Clay County Sheriff’s Department.
“I think I have a little bit of experience everywhere, but there is always room to grow and gain more knowledge,” Strong said. “Being an officer at The W is a great place to grow and learn.”
Strong has only been a member of the department for just a few weeks. However, he has enjoyed getting to interact with his coworkers, the students, and the faculty on campus.
“The officers on campus have a very important role,” Strong said. “We want the parents, as well as the students, to know that this is a safe place to work and learn.”
One of the other recently hired officers is Annette Yoder. Like Strong, Yoder is a patrol officer on The W campus.
She joined the department after completing her training at the Law Enforcement Officers Training Academy in Pearl, Miss.
“During this time, I acquired the skills, discipline, and strength to become the best law enforcement officer possible,” Yoder said of her police training.
Yoder has been a part of the department for nearly eight months.
During her patrols, she ensures the safety of the students, faculty, and campus. Yoder believes that campus police should build and maintain trust with students, faculty and visitors through dependability and integrity.
“Serving can be accomplished through various methods, whether that be jump-starting a dead car battery, directing traffic or unlocking a room or building that somebody may have unintentionally gotten locked out of,” Officer Yoder said.
Officer Cole Britt is one of the other new additions to the department.
Britt joined the campus police department five months ago. He has previous experience in several different areas.
Britt served for four years in the military with the United States Marine Corps.
He began his career in law enforcement in 2014 with the Columbus Police Department. While there, Britt was a member of the Special Response Team, also known as SWAT. Britt also served as an officer for the Lowndes County Narcotics Task Force. There he served as a narcotics agent and a K9 handler.
Britt conducts primarily night-time patrols on and around The W campus. During his patrols, he ensures that there is no criminal activity taking place. He also makes sure that buildings and other campus property are locked and safe.
“Aside from patrol activity, I also interact with students, staff and visitors to help facilitate them and their needs,” Britt stated. “I am always happy to do so.”
Outside of the police presence on campus, Britt said he feels that a heavy police presence is important for neighboring college campuses and schools.
“I think that every school, campus or educational facility that houses and facilitates any large number of students, staff and personnel should be safeguarded,” Britt said.
Despite The W’s police department being smaller than some others, the staff take their jobs and oaths seriously.
“We are a small department in comparison to other law enforcement agencies, but we are dedicated to serve this campus and protect the lives upon it at all costs,” Britt stated.
Each of the new officers feel that it is important for students, faculty and staff to feel safe while studying or working on campus. They also recognize the importance of making sure that students’ parents are confident about campus safety.
Having a strong presence of officers on campus helps to ensure the feeling of safety and reassures students and faculty alike that The W is a safe place to learn and work.