Updated: December 21, 2020 10:49 PM
Created: December 21, 2020 08:23 PM
The force that keeps the University of Wisconsin-Superior safe and sound just got even more support, swearing in six brand new police officers to the department.
"Since I accepted the position in August, we've had some resignations and some retirements that we've just been filling," says Joseph Eickman, the Interim Director of Public Safety at UWS. "Three of the officers are padding our numbers in case COVID goes through our department. With a department of only six staff, if one of us gets COVID, it really hurts our schedule and our ability to fill it. So we get some part-time officers to bolster our numbers for a little while, to make sure we can make it through."
With Monday night's additions, there are now nine bodies on the force; three full-time police officers, three part-time police officers, and two security officers. Officer Eickman makes seven. But he's most proud of how much the department has changed over the years.
"I started here in 2009, and I was the only police officer for over a decade. So I worked alongside five security officers," says Eickman. "And as the security officers now have started retiring, we're filling those vacancies with police officers."
There are differences between what a security officer can do and what a police officer can do. Police are given full arrest powers. They have the authority to write citations, perform traffic stops, and take people to jail if the situation calls for that. But when it comes to more dangerous situations, police officers provide extra protection.
"If you want to think in terms of active shooter or violent intruder, we have a different duty to respond than a security officer does," says Eickman. "Our security officers are not armed with hand guns or firearms at all. So they would not be expected to respond to a dangerous situation on campus, whereas police officers, that's basically what we train for."
The new officers come with a variety of skill sets and work backgrounds.
"We have officers who've had jobs at other departments. We have National Guardsmen who are in the Air Force as military police. We have active duty military police who've gotten honerable discharge, and now they're starting their law enforcement career. We have some who've never had a job as a police officer before. And I have one who's been a security officer for 15 years, before he made the jump, now he's a police officer with us as well," says Eickman.
Officer Eickman praised the enthusiasm, experience, and diversity the new members bring to the force, going above the call to keep UWS safe for everyone.
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