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Students train for campus security at SMSU

August 24, 2012
By Steve Browne , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - Thursday was moving-in day at Southwest Minnesota State University, and for some students this involves moving into new roles providing security on campus.

Sixteen students will work security for games, events and day- to-day 24/7 under the supervision of a director, two captains and an office manager.

"Today we're teaching emergency driving," said Matthew Loeslie, law enforcement coordinator at Minnesota West Technical and Community College, "how decisions they make can have far-reaching consequences."

Loeslie showed students a horrifying video taken from a police dash camera in Dallas of a car hitting a bicycle ridden by a 10-year-old boy, killing him.

"The officer was going 72 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour zone," Loeslie said. "He was going to cover another officer and didn't have his lights and siren on. The kid had snuck out of his house to go the gas station to buy candy."

However, student security mostly won't be driving, but walking or bicycling around campus, and will mostly be there to help in less exciting but vital tasks such as medical emergencies, escorting disabled people, giving directions, or walking professors to their cars late at night.

"I always tell people, 'Don't believe the hype, we're really nice people,'" said Capt. Brian Ehlenbach.

Ehlenbach's background is in emergency medicine and emergency management rather than law enforcement.

"In our fall training we go over policies, our everyday job and some things that pop up," he said.

If what pops up is trouble, student security is more likely to try and calm things down, according to Ehlenbach. If someone is breaking the law or campus rules, they'll be asked once, twice, to stop, then the police will be called. Student security sergeants though are trained in defensive tactics and may carry handcuffs and mace on a duty belt.

"Compelling compliance isn't really what we do," Ehlenbach said. "We're an educational institution."

What campus security mostly does is summed up by the C.O.D. formula, according to Ehlenbach. Contact, Observe and Document.

Most students are not going into law in any form.

Sgt. Dan Carlson is one of perhaps two exceptions and intends to go into justice administration.

"We're pretty spread out," Carlson said, "chemistry, biology, pre-med, social work."

Jessica O'Neill is a social work major and intends to add justice administration later.

"The social work I want to work in is with juveniles and this kind of thing would be working with people," O'Neill said.

Victor Obasi, a pre-med student from Nigeria, is about as far from a career in law enforcement as you can get.

"I just like the job," Obasi said.

Still, student security members occasionally get the chance to prove their mettle, as they did on July 1, 2011, when a storm caused extensive damage on campus and in town. Security members did damage assessment afterward, and swept campus to make sure everybody was all right.

"I'll tell you what, I am so proud of these guys," Ehlenbach said. "They're just amazing. It's an honor to supervise them."



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