Some recent staffing reorganization at Public Safety has resulted in the promotion of an officer on the night shift. DePaul Avant has been a Public Safety Officer at the University since the spring of 2013. This October, Avant was promoted to night shift sergeant. He is one of the Public Safety members that many students know by name for his social presence on campus.
Kathy Burdick, the former night shift sergeant, moved to a mid-day shift allowing her to focus on crime prevention awareness with the University community. Sergeants normally would train new officers, conduct in house refresher training, and handle calls with the patrol staff. There was precious little time remaining for community building. With the work load being split, Avant and Burdick will each have time to concentrate on programming.
“I think DePaul has a great rapport with the student body,” Burdick said. “He knows this campus really well and you can tell he loves what he does. I am very excited to work closely with him.”
Scott Rohde, Director of Public Safety, views Avant’s promotion as a benefit for the greater University community.
“He brings a lot of energy and personal commitment to the job,” Rohde said. “He really considers Wesleyan a second home and is incredibly committed to the students and keeping a safe learning environment for the entire community. He genuinely loves his job.”
Avant does not see this promotion as any different than the position he held as an officer.
“The only difference really is that I can focus more on the community aspect rather than patrolling,” he said. “Now I can plan more events and be more of a resource to the students. I understand the inherent negative perspective of my job. That is why I try to make as many positive encounters as possible. So, when I do have to come to a student for any reason, it’s not a hostile environment, more of a familiar face.”
Though Avant believes that students should never feel like public safety officers are “against” them, Public Safety has not always had the best relationship with the student body, especially recently with respect to new quiet time policies. Informally known as the “1 a.m. policy,” it requires students to contain their parties by 1 a.m. But Avant thinks this policy has been misinterpreted.
“We are not shutting down parties, you just have to minimize the noise,” he said. “I know that when I go out there right at 2 o’clock to shut down a party, people are not going to leave until about 3 o’clock. By then we are getting complaints from Middletown residents and other students. As people are leaving, they make noise. Large crowds leaving make noise. No one is mad at that, it just happens. We are just trying to limit that.”
According to Rohde, 34 out of 36 noise complaints that have been reported this semester have come from other students. Because University students and Middletown residents are issuing noise complaints, Avant thinks there needs to be a compromise.
“We have to understand too, it goes two ways,” Avant said, “Wesleyan is part of the Middletown community and Middletown is part of the Wesleyan community.”
Avant plans to be at the University for a long time. He’s excited about what’s to come as sergeant, but also looks forward to his future with Public Safety and the greater University community.
“My mentality has always been, before you have the job, do the job,” he said. “I plan to be here for 30 more years, so I’m looking forward to continue building up the community and my time with Public Safety.”
Thafir Elzofri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.