Feature Article

A day in the life of a PUC police officer

By BRANDON HAYES
(Office of Advancement Student Employee)

Each day police officers patrol the Purdue Calumet campus, protecting the quality of life and maintaining the safe educational environment that it offers.

Officer Shannon Hassel
Officer Shannon Hassel

Officer Shannon Hassel is one of the 13 sworn PUC police officers who serve the campus. Hassel has previously worked for the Munster Police Department from 1998 to 2001 and the University of Chicago, Hyde Park Police Department from 2001 to 2005. She joined the PUC Police Department in 2005. Additionally, she has also worked in the Dean of Students office as a student liaison.

Hassel said being a police officer is something she has wanted to do since she was little girl. She described being an officer as a “front row seat to the greatest show on earth!”

“You are the first person to see everything, the first one to get the call, the first one on the scene.”

Each day, Hassel begins every shift by surveying the campus property, taking note of what has changed since her last shift.

“I like to see what is different about the campus each day, such as a broken window, changed landscaping, graffiti, and anything unordinary,” Hassel said. This way, when I come back through a certain location later in the day, I will immediately know if something looks out of place.”

On any shift, there are never less than two officers on duty. Working at a university, both the volume of calls and types of calls vary from a city or municipality department. Much of the work a campus police officer does involves walking the halls of buildings, deterring crime and checking for any mechanical problems, such as a burst pipe, an unlocked exterior door or an unusual temperature.

Hassel explained that many students who come to Purdue Calumet are surprised to see a police force and that often, campus police officers are mistaken for security officers. In fact, all Purdue Calumet police officers are deputized by the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, furthering their involvements.

“People get alarmed when they see us, they think because we are walking through a building that something is wrong, when really we are just routinely checking on an area,” Hassel said.

Hassel noted that she sees many of the students on campus regularly walking the grounds with headphones on, un-alert and a perfect target for a robbery. She said she would like to see more students become aware of their surroundings.

Officers Shannon Hassel and Richard Perez
Officers Shannon Hassel and Richard Perez

While on duty she avidly listens to the Hammond Police radio frequency so that, aside from the campus, she is aware of what is going on in the city. She said there have been many times when Hammond Police have been searching for a suspect at or near campus.

“There have been many times where I was on patrol and a suspect who Hammond was looking for was passing through the buildings or in the general area,” Hassel said.

She recalls an incident last year when Hammond Police were chasing a fleeing car down 175 Street, just southwest of the HTM and Challenger Center buildings. The car crashed through a fence, nearly missing one of the buildings. The suspect’s target was a resident at the University Village.

In addition to monitoring other local department activity, Hassel said it is important to monitor the streets and neighborhoods adjacent to the campus, staying alert for daytime burglaries and checking on vacant homes in the area.

Hassel explained that the best part about working at Purdue Calumet is getting to know the people of the campus community, yet the hardest part is fearing that someday something may happen to one of them.

“It is important to know what’s happening around you and to be ready for anything; in this line of work you don’t have time to be scared.”