The Campus Security Officer program formed in fall 2010 due to the congestion of vehicles and students crossing Starin Road.
Starting out with only five employees, the CSO program’s ability to provide services was limited.
In fall 2010, multiple hate crimes occurred on campus.
“Because the community was not feeling safe, we started adding some night shifts,” UW-Whitewater Police Sgt. Faye Schouten said.
Nighttime safety patrol duties include an escort service, assistance with dead batteries and lock-outs, vandalism prevention, building checks and maintaining high visibility on campus.
The program nearly doubled its numbers in spring of 2011 to nine officers, adding full-day pedestrian crossing coverage and safety patrol five nights a week.
The number of officers grew again in fall 2011 to 22, allowing the program to have two pedestrian crossing points on Starin Road with shifts running all day and safety patrol seven nights a week.
“This semester is huge,” Schouten said in regards to the program expansion.
There are currently 34 CSO employees. Schouten said she hopes to see that number increase in the future.
The program has taken on security and organization at special events including football games, dances and other public gatherings.
“I love what this program does for the students,” Schouten said. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.”
Peter Morello has grown accustomed to cars zipping past him, only feet from his body.
“I have cars almost right against me,” Morello said.
As a campus security officer and pedestrian crossing guard, this risk comes with the job and close calls are common.
“I should be afraid,” Morello said. “But you get used to it.”
Morello, a junior majoring in interpersonal communications with a health emphasis, said he enjoys pedestrian crossing more than his other responsibilities on campus.
“The fact that every time I’m out there I’m going to see somebody different makes it fun,” Morello said.
Morello said his work helps to take the edge off of a stressful school day, because of little things like seeing three cars in a row all the same make, model and color.
“I’ve had pedestrians show their thanks with a run and jump high-five,” Morello said. “After that, I couldn’t have a bad day.”
Morello also said he enjoys the weekend night shift, because it is more relaxed and low key.
One of Morello’s major success stories as a CSO was stopping a distracted girl before she crossed the street.
“If I didn’t put my hand up, this girl would have walked right into the cross walk,” Morello said.
In his free time, Morello enjoys being at the gym and doing standup at open-mic nights.
Morello also said he’d like to change the world, ultimately working as a motivational speaker some day.
Night patrol with CSO Ashley Vedvig and Joseph Benson includes a ride in an electric vehicle, combing the campus for activity and keeping high visibility.
One of Vedvig and Benson’s responsibilities on night patrol is checking the doors of the campus buildings, which they can execute quickly with teamwork.
Vedvig, a geography major, is a newer member of the team, while Benson, a senior accounting major, has been part of the program since it began.
As a veteran, Benson trains new CSOs and leads the whole pack under the management of Sgt. Schouten.
“I like being out at night and seeing the students’ interactions with each other,” Benson said.
The CSO program helps students to build good life skills such as responsibility, leadership and trust.
“It’s pretty cool to be entrusted with campus security,” Vedvig said.
Besides being a part of the CSO program, Vedvig said she enjoys volunteering and helping out, which is a main reasons she said she joined CSO.
Vedvig is also the former president of Circle K, an on-campus volunteer organization. She is also a Big Sister in the Big Brother, Big Sister program.
“I want to help out everybody,” Vedvig said.
Benson, who enjoys hunting and fishing in his free time, said he likes the fact that CSO allows him to help people out.
“Being involved in CSO shows that people can trust you,” Benson said. “You can build trust with those people, too.”