Tom tries it: NCC Campus Safety

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Still dreading any encounters with food on campus following my conquering of the Kaufman Challenge, I decided that for this edition of “Tom Tries It,” I would ride along on a shift with the valiant protectors of North Central’s campus: the men and women of Campus Safety. After corresponding with the new director of Campus Safety, Ashley Klco, I got the green light.

I was scheduled to ride along with officers David Tansey and Norah Rabatah from 5 p.m. until midnight on Friday, October 27; “C shift,” or, as Tansey would say, “the dream shift.”

I show up at 4:45 and, following a brief conversation with Klco, I’m shown to the Campus Safety Squad Room and introduced to Tansey and Rabatah, the following is a chronicle of my night in the life of a C-shift Campus Safety officer:

5:11 p.m.: I meet Officer Tansey and, shortly thereafter, Officer Rabatah. I seem to have immediately hit it off with them; Rabatah made sure to let me know – before anything else – that “We’re weird people,” when referring to herself and Tansey. Tansey shows me around the squad room while Rabatah switches into her uniform and then we’re off to keep the campus safe.

Officers Tansey and Rabatah pose with their favorite member of Campus Safety: Cater the Gator.

5:27 p.m.: Our first call comes in, a student is having car troubles at the parking lot off of Highland. Following a textbook car jump, we head over to the Merner Field House to unlock some closets for the girl’s basketball team so they can grab tables and chairs.

While the calls may not always be exciting, Campus Safety is happy that students know they can be relied on.

5:41 p.m.: The tables and chairs have been located, and I have been shown a school secret: a tunnel in a back closet runs all the way across campus – connecting the Merner Field House to the new School of Business and Entrepreneurship.

So close to Halloween neither officers Tansey, Rabata nor myself could be convinced to delve too deep into the eerie tunnel.

5:59 p.m.: Caffeine is a crucial component of any C-shift so we decide to make a Starbucks run.

6:07 p.m.: Coffee in hand we head to Speedway to get gas for the squad car when Rabatah quips, “So it never fails: whenever we have to go somewhere, we immediately get a call.”

6:11 p.m.: It turns out that Rabatah was very right, as soon as we pull up to the gas station we get a call, it seems a student was left stranded by the Cardinal Shuttle. Luckily this is easily remedied by a quick phone call to the shuttle driver and we are still able to gas up.

6:32 p.m.: While waiting for Rabatah to unlock a door at Wentz Concert Hall, Officer Tansey asks, “So do any of your friends have any brain-busters for us?” I quickly jump on my phone to ask my fellow Chroniclers if they had any questions for the often misunderstood officers of Campus Safety. Lexi Heinitz, Editor-in-Chief of North Central’s own pop culture magazine, Vision, eloquently asked “Why do they always pull out in front of me when I’m in the middle of the street?” This question is met with laughter from officer Tansey before he questions back, “Well does she look both ways before crossing?”

6:47 p.m.: Student-officer Mariesa Shapiama calls to ask us to meet her in Kimmel Residence Hall in order to assist a group of students who are locked out of their dorm room.

6:53 p.m.: Master keys are not working, Shapiama returns to the Campus Safety offices to retrieve the necessary tools to perform a “core-change,” the drilling out and replacing of the door’s locking mechanism. Officers Tansey and Rabatah build rapport with students while awaiting the tools.

Eye protection is very necessary when drilling through the metal doorknobs of Kimmel Hall.

7:14 p.m.: The lock has been replaced and the students have finally regained access to their room.

7:37 p.m.: With the officers getting hungry we try to figure out where we should get dinner from. Panda Express? Nope, they just had it the night before. Portillo’s? Nope, they get it too often. We decide on tacos and head over to El Hogar, a restaurant that the two officers clearly visit regularly. As soon as we walk in the man behind the counter is already asking Rabatah if she’ll have the steak fajitas, “See, I told you he’d know.”

8:05 p.m.: With no pressing matters to attend to, we head back to campus and sit down in the Boilerhouse with our dinner.

8:40 p.m.: There seems to be a lack of campus emergencies, so the officers decide to perform their required foot patrol of the lock-in taking place in the White Activties Center. Upon arrival the officers are immediately asked if they would like to be judges for the toilet paper mummy contest that had just occurred, we are joined by Officer Justin Realmo and the three happily oblige the request for a guest appearance. Judging got rather intense with Officer Tansey questioning the makeup of one of the mummies, “Wow, is this two-ply?”

Officers Rabata, Realmo and Tansey ponder a mummy at the OUTreach lock-in.

9:24 p.m.: We head over to Wentz Concert Hall to lock the art gallery and stop by to check out the swing dance taking place in one of the side rooms – nothing of concern happening here.

9:42 p.m.: A call comes in: a student needs an escort from Res/Rec over to the Halloween event taking place in Pfeiffer. Tansey tells me of escorts, “We do them as much as they’re needed but really it’s supposed to be only for medical or safety reasons.”

9:51 p.m.: We return to the Campus Safety offices in New Hall to grant a visitor pass to a friend of a student.

10:01 p.m.: “Well we’re over here anyway,” Officer Rabatah decides that it’s finally time to tackle one of the more menial tasks that face Campus Safety officers: the end of the month fire extinguisher checks. On this particular night we have to check the extinguishers in Merner and Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium.

Officer Tansey initials and dates the fire extinguishers to show that they have received their monthly checkup.

11:13 p.m.: There was an event in the A. A. Smith House earlier in the night so we have to go make sure everything is locked up. Lucky for me this is a chance to try to grab some photos of the supposed child-ghosts that inhabit the house after being killed by their mother, Marilyn Lemak, in 1999.

Officers Tansey and Rabata attempt to coax the child-ghosts out to play.

11:39 p.m.: No ghosts present, what a bummer.

11:46 p.m.: We get back to central – that’s code word for the Campus Safety office. It is time for officers Tansey and Rabatah to begin their end of shift routine: filling out DARs (that’s a daily activity report for the laymen out there) and letting me try out their drunk goggles; normal stuff.

All in all, my ride along with Campus Safety officers Tansey and Rabatah, as well as my interactions with officers Shapiama and Realmo, gave me a new view of Campus Safety. These aren’t people who want to hassle students with drinking tickets and by busting their parties, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Officer Tansey said that when it comes to writing tickets for students, “If we bust you then you were making it really obvious; we don’t want to get you in trouble.”

Officer Rabatah has been with campus safety for about two-and-a-half years and worked her final shift on Monday, Oct. 30. Rabatah has left the school to further her career in law enforcement with the Illinois Department of Corrections at a new psychiatric facility for mentally ill prisoners in Joliet.

Officer Tansey has been working at the school since April 2016, and thinks that EMT school may be in his future. Tansey lamented that he could probably not become a police officer because he does not have full vision in one of his eyes, a side-effect of his multiple sclerosis.

For those who share the same lust for knowledge that NCClinked webmaster Mclean Holmes had when he asked if he could park a boat in resident lots, the answer is yes according to Tansey – as long as it has a resident sticker on it. Monster trucks are potentially allowed too, “I’m assuming that would take up four spaces so it would need four stickers,” said Tansey.

Campus safety does not patrol for off-campus parties either, they actually prefer it that way, “if it’s not happening on campus, we don’t have to bust it.” And yes, just as the Chronicle’s managing editor, Allison Hartman guessed: Campus Safety’s busiest time of the year is Spring Fest.

Photos by Tom Miller, photos edited by Noah Cordoba.

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