Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Leadership lived: Police officer connects with students

Ross Owens enjoys making a difference. As a police officer on the University of Illinois Springfield campus, he knows connecting with students is a big part of his job.

“We’re not just cops,” said Owens. “I was a student before I was a cop and it’s one of those things where if you can relate to them on some level… it really brings you down on a more normal level than when someone sees you as a position of authority.”

Owens earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from UIS and often talks to students about their classes and experiences on campus.

“Whenever we do foot patrols it’s very common for us to stop and talk to people,” said Owens. “We interact regularly with residence assistants out here, other students just in passing making small talk. We’re always happy to answer any questions they may have.”

It’s that personal engagement that makes students feel more comfortable when it comes to reporting a crime or suspicious activity on campus.

“It’s just part of who I am and this job kind of encompasses all of that,” said Owens. “We’re out here with a family atmosphere where everyone knows each other.”

Owens typically works a 12-hour overnight shift, but that doesn’t stop him from volunteering on campus. He’s joined student teams during Springfest, helping them compete in events, such as a campus-wide scavenger hunt.

For Owen’s being a police officer at UIS is more than just a job.

“It really supports my inner motive to help people, especially when you know people you’re working around,” he said.

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