A day in the life of a Campus Security officer
9:01 p.m.: Meet Security Officer Ron Fritz in the Union. I introduce myself and explain why I’m holding a massive notebook and clicky-pen. “I don’t think I’ve met you before…but maybe that’s a good thing,” I say. He laughs. We get into the white van to go on patrol.
9:03: Step out of white van in front of Loyalty to lock up doors. Ron takes out flashlight. I marvel at how creepy Loyalty looks at night, and also how Nancy Drew doesn’t know squat about procedure.
9:06: “You’ve gotta have an open mind,” Ron says when I ask him about his 11 years in Campus Security. “You see anything and everything.”
I press him about senior week, to which he says, “Some people can make a mountain out of a molehill. It’s routine. You know what to expect.” Can’t help but wonder what expectations they have for seniors.
9:08: Ask about his weirdest call. He pauses for a moment, then says, “Well, I’d say the rattlesnake in the Farwell elevator was one.”
9:09: “Wait, what?” I ask. He continues the story as we lean against the railing outside of the art building. “I got there at about 1 a.m., and there were onlookers, gigglin’ and the snake was curled up in the elevator. He was lookin’ right at me, and I didn’t know if he was dead or alive. It was dead, but I called the [police department] for that one. It was 5 feet—I could jump rope with this guy! They called me Ron the Reptile Wrangler after that one.”
9:12: I ask about naked soccer. He shrugs and says, “Anybody gets caught, it’s on your resume for life. It’s just too bad that Luther’s known as ‘that naked soccer school.’” I think about the time I saw campus security vans herding drunk naked seniors around the lawn from my dorm window and stifle a giggle.
9:17: Ask him for another memorable night. Mentions how he found Nabby Baffour-Awuah the night he died. “Deep down, you know you tried and did everything you could, but still … you feel like you failed.” We pause before moving on. It still hurts.
9:20: Go into Ockham, which resembles a haunted house at night. Tells me about the night five fire alarms went off between Brandt and Ylvi. “It’s just some yay-hoos havin’ fun.” Most common calls: fire alarms, vomit messes, spills, unlocks. “Sometimes I’d like to take my cell phone and radio and throw it into the Upper Iowa and watch it float on by.” Glad he didn’t.
9:33: A call! The case: a student has been locked out of Regents Center.
9:34: Leave Ockham. “Hey! Someone moved my van!” He blames Dean Carolan, another campus security member. “We play pranks on each other all the time.”
9:35: Another call. A custodian let the student in. Case closed.
9:43: Call. Suspected bonfire in the Baker prairie. He steps on the gas and we vroom up the hill to pick up Security Officer Jack Drilling.
9:47: Ask Jack if he’s had any memorable nights. Tells me about a call about an “intox” at Brandt, who eventually went to hospital. Student had a twin and asked, “Let him know I’m all right.” Jack received another call that night. It was the twin brother, who also had to be taken to hospital for an “intox.” “I couldn’t believe it!” Jack says. “They were right next to each other in the hospital!”
9:51: Another story from Jack: police call about naked guy tied to a tree. “They come up with the darndest excuses,” Ron says.
9:52: Determine that there is no bonfire. Case closed.
9:59: Test radios before dropping Jack off at Regents. Ron tells me about the night he heard a diving board in the middle of the night. “By the time I got there, they all scattered. But they left some clothes behind. And an ID.”
10:03: Hear stories about anything “just sittin’ around” that students take, or the gator they found in the middle of the library lawn a month ago. Feel extraordinarily tame.
10:10: Go with Ron on what I call “critter patrol” by the carpenter’s shop. He tells me about how deer, skunks and possums scatter when he shines his flashlight, but not cats. Figures.
10:22: Drive around Valders by the pool. “You gotta wonder, why put water in the pool before kids leave?” He has a point.
10:31: Nearing end of Ron’s shift. We drive over to Main, where Jack’s checking doors.
10:37: Ron hands me a flashlight, inviting me to join Jack in Main. “Hope to see you again,” he says. I thank him for the fun shift, silently hoping that, if we meet again, it will be under good circumstances.
10:42: Follow Jack around as he checks every door. “Sam-Hoff’s the worst!” he says. “It takes 45 minutes at least to get through!”
10:46: Jack recounts a call he got from girls complaining about naked guys running around their dorm. “They weren’t mad that they were naked, but they asked ‘could they just keep it down a bit?’” As we laugh and he thinks of more stories, more strange calls to tell me, I realize that no one at Luther knows the secret lives of students better than Campus Security.