The University Police Department (UPD) is transitioning into a new program for student workers. Within the past year UPD has taken initiative to start a program called the student security officer, or better known as SSO. The SSO program is for any student who is interested in working for UPD.
Bryant Jackson, the UPD police chief, said that the idea was to help students who aspire to become part of the police force.
“I really just wanted to try to integrate into the educational process and provide some not quite on the job opportunities [on campus],” (Jackson said). “Some paid related job experience for students on campus that might be interested in a career in public safety and an opportunity to get their feet wet.”
In the past 20 years, UPD has employed students as student and parking workers. This is where students would work special events and parking on campus.
Jackson said that there are around 50% returning SSO’s and 50% new students.
“We have a great group and most of them will be returning [to UPD] next year,” Jackson said. “Ultimately, we’re looking to increase the things that they can do to assist the USD community.”
An SSO member, Amber Benway, is grateful for the program UPD has set up for Criminal Justice majors, like herself.
“I had always wanted to become a police officer since my sophomore year [in high school]. But, I had found a different path and went into music,” Benway said. “After last semester, I started to rethink my decision. Then I heard UPD was hiring… and I turned in my application… Now I’m here and I really, really enjoy it.”
Some of her duties as an SSO is to walk around campus, close up buildings off and on campus and check parking on campus parking lots.
“Usually my shift goes by really fast. So by 10 p.m. it’s time to go,” Benway said.
In Benway’s opinion, the best part of her job is work with her co-workers and the flexibility around her schedule.
“I love working with all my co-workers. I get to work with everyone and get to know them all really well on a personal level and ask them questions [about their careers],” Benway said. “I love the hours and the flexibility in my schedule… so I have the time to destress after classes and then have something fun I like to do.”
Although she really enjoys her job, Benway said being a SSO also has its downfalls. As a SSO, she sometimes deals with students who are upset.
“[Being an SSO,] you have to deal with a little confrontation while ticketing in lots on USD campus… Sometimes we [have to] deescalate certain situations,” Benway said. “But it’s not a huge deal and it’s part of the job.”
In the past, Jackson said UPD has had a lot of success in the past with student workers. He’s also excited for the SSO program and for students who are graduating and staying with the UPD force.
“[UPD] has had a lot of great success moving on post graduation and everyone’s been returning saying that’s a great sign as well,” Jackson said. “I feel really fulfilled in a sense that I’ve had the opportunity to help mentor students on a different level.. The opportunity to help students on a different level that we haven’t traditionally been a part of.”
UPD is currently advertising positions on their social media page for next fall. You can find more information on UPD’s Instagram and Twitter @USDpolice.