32-year XUPD veteran talks to the Newswire about past, present and future
Newswire photo by Soondos Mulla-Ossman | Xavier University Police Department Lt. William Smith enjoys his job giving back to students at Xavier. He graduated from Xavier and has been with XUPD for 32 years.
In a new Xavier Police Officer of the Month segment, the Newswire had the opportunity to sit down with Lt. William Smith. The following is an edited transcript.
Did you want to be involved in the police department for a while?
Actually, when I was younger, I always wanted to be a firefighter. When I was in high school, I participated in the Explorer program with the Cincinnati Fire Department. As soon as I got out of high school, I took their fire test and I got a 93 on the test, but unfortunately, it wasn’t high enough to get into the process.
At that time it was extremely competitive. Three or four thousand people would show up for a test, and they would only hire 30. (It) broke my heart.
At the same time, while I was going to Elder, I was working at the original Skyline Chili on Glenway Avenue. They had a police officer on Friday and Saturday night because of the bar traffic and everything coming in. So I got to talk to them, and one of the officers invited me to participate in a ride-along program, so I did that in high school my last year and got really interested in law enforcement that way.
How long have you been involved in the police department?
I’ve pretty much been at Xavier since my 19th birthday. This is my 32nd year, and a few more months over ride alongs with the Cincinnati police in high school, so about 32 years right now.
What is your favorite thing about working in the police department at Xavier?
Being a graduate, being a parent of daughters who went to school here, it’s easy for me. It’s all about the service and giving and helping students. I really enjoy that stuff. And unfortunately, sometimes in your career you’re able to do it more than others. When I was working in the daytime as an administrator, it was easier.
Now that I’m on night shift and supervising the officers at night and doing a lot of office projects, it’s a little harder to get out more. And plus, students are sleeping at night. After one or two o’clock in the morning, students are asleep. So it’s tougher to interact. But you still get some, and the bottom line is that that’s what I enjoy, is helping people and working with the students.
Is there anything you do on campus that students either don’t know about, don’t appreciate or otherwise take for granted?
There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff, there’s a lot of training, there’s a lot of paperwork, there’s a lot of other rules and policies and stuff that we have to learn and we have to go by.
Everyone thinks police work is the fun, getting out, driving around in a police car, lights and sirens, catching bad guys all day, and that’s not it. That’s just a very small percentage of what you do.
A lot of it is training and paperwork and going to court and stuff like that. I would say that’s probably what a lot of people don’t realize.
Do you have any pet peeves about your work at all?
It’s frustrating to see students make the same mistakes year after year after year. It’s hard to remember that it’s a new batch every year.
You have to train yourself to realize, “Hey, when a new group of freshmen come in, and a student comes in and is very upset about a parking citation, or a student gets in trouble for drinking underage on the weekend, you have to go over and help them, and sometimes they have vomit all over them, and we have to call an ambulance and deal with their friends that are hysterical,” or whatever.
It’s tough to keep cool and remember that hey, this is a new group of students.
That sounds hard.
It is sometimes. But once again, we have a great group of students here. You and all your fellow classmates — 99.99 percent of you are awesome. And we enjoy helping you and even though it’s frustrating sometimes, we know that you’re learning just as much as we are.
But you don’t get to see the 99.99 percent of people who aren’t misbehaving?
You’re right, you don’t, especially on a night shift. On a day shift, you get to interact. At night, you deal with a lot of the problems, but we do encourage our officers to get out and do crime prevention programs, to do PR, and especially (with) residence halls, we’re coming up with some new ideas and we’re expanding some old ideas where an officer will actually go into a residence hall and do rounds with the RAs through the building. They love that.
One of our officers one night set up a grill outside and threw a bunch of hotdogs on it, and anyone that walked by, he offered a free hot dog. They love that.
Is there anything you could point to as being the highlight of your career?
That’s an easy one for me, Soondos, because once again it’s meeting so many great people and also having the opportunity to put both of my daughters through Xavier and giving them a great education.
By: Soondos Mulla-Ossman ~Copy Editor~