Campus Security Specialist Focuses on Helping Others

© Western New Mexico University

Campus Security Specialist Barbara Perez did not always imagine she would be coordinating communications for a six-member police force. In 1995, when she started working for WNMU, she served as a cashier in the Business Office. But when a position with WNMU Campus Police opened up in 1997, she came aboard with the assumption that she would be an administrative assistant. Instead, she has become the department’s go-to person not only for police communications, but also for campus event security and crisis intervention, compliance, budgeting, and the supervision of student workers.

What motivates Perez in all of her work is a desire to help others. Twice awarded WNMU Employee of the Year, Perez acknowledged that the awards “made me feel good, but I am not all about that. I love the university and I love helping people.”

Her natural impulse to help is just the start of her qualifications for her position. In addition, she has completed training with the NM Department of Public Safety to become a certified telecommunicator. Beyond an initial three-week training program in Santa Fe, the state requires certified telecommunicators to complete annual continuing education.

“We need 20 hours of continuing education each year to maintain certification,” said Perez, “including four hours of training on current guidelines for working with people experiencing mental health challenges.” This training has been very helpful in her work at WNMU, she said. “I deal with crisis intervention, domestic violence, cyberbullying—I deal with a lot of that specialized training, as well.”

Over the years, Perez has taken on numerous additional tasks. One of these tasks is to oversee the campus’ security camera system. In addition, she said, “I am the supervisor for the work studies and the department assistant. I am pretty much the office manager. I deal with all the budgets, make sure that the officers have all their trainings. We all have to go through the Department of Public Safety for our trainings, so I do a lot to make sure everyone is in compliance. … I work with the safety and security for all of the faculty and staff, as well as the students, and I attend a lot of meetings with the community.”

This long list of responsibilities means that time management is crucial in her job. “Timing can be very difficult sometimes,” she said, “I deal with a lot of the reporting—monthly reporting, yearly reporting, any type of records. It can be really time consuming.”

Coordinating the timing of projects can also be complicated by the very nature of her job. Interruptions happen regularly. “That can happen with a 911 call. … You need to make sure you get all of your priorities straight,” said Perez.

While time management can be a challenge, one of the rewards of her position, she said, was having an opportunity to mentor others. Currently the department has one departmental assistant and five student workers. “We train the work study students to be on the radios with the police officers,” said Perez, “That helps out a lot. … Not all of them want to be in the criminal justice program,” she added, “but they learn how to be in a setting that is demanding. They are learning how to handle stuff themselves.”

The work study students also have a chance to improve their communication skills, said Perez. “They not only learn how to communicate with the person who calls in, but they also communicate with the police officers. And I am right there with them.”

Perez said that she also enjoys the outreach dimensions of her work. “My favorite part is helping other people. … I walk around the university, checking to see if we have any kind of vandalism or criminal damage that we need to report. I enjoy all of that. It’s not just sitting in the office for me. I am out there doing a lot more to ensure that the campus is secure.”

Working with a diverse campus population and helping out wherever she can is essential to Perez. “That’s a big part of me. I enjoy people, so this is a good place for me because we get it all. I have worked with a diverse group of people for a long time.”










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