University Police officers relish challenge of fighting crime

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    By Christina Robertson

    The police car is perched at the bottom of a hill. Officer John Bennett, of the University Police Department, aims his radar gun at approaching cars.

    “People think we”re out here to write tickets, when it”s about helping people out,” he said.

    Police work is different from the criminal chasing, donut eating lifestyle it is stereotyped as being.

    “In actuality it”s a lot of leg work, follow up and less exciting things,” said Rick Moreno, a crime prevention officer for University Police.

    Bennett said he never knows what he will find or what will be required of him when called to a scene.

    Bennett said he takes mental steps to handle the stress.

    “Every situation is different. They train you, but you just never know what you”re getting into. It takes mental preparation,” he said.

    Bennett said he gathers information from the dispatcher and then assesses the situation. He said that once he arrives at a scene, he takes mental steps to get the job done.

    Bennett said being a police officer requires dedication 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    “I tend to watch everybody. My eyes have been opened to what happens in everyday life behind closed doors. I just watch the people I see closely,” he said.

    Moreno said the most challenging aspect of being an officer is that so many crimes go unreported.

    “I think that especially on this campus the challenge is to educate students on how to prevent from being victimized,” he said.

    Bennett has been an officer for a year and a half and has already been promoted to sergeant, said Desree Bennett, Officer Bennett”s wife. He is also on the SWAT team and completing his degree in sociology, she said.

    “It”s something that he loves so he excels at it. He has earned the respect of those he works with and those he comes in contact with,” she said.

    Bennett said he enjoys helping people.

    “We don”t mind taking silly calls because they”re not silly to the person. We will take the call that appears to be nothing because we need to be there,” he said.

    With a wife and four children at home, Bennett recommends that parents “stay close and pay attention” to their children.

    When asked how he would deal with his daughters dating, he smiled and jokingly said, “They”re not going to date.”

    He said being a police officer has given him perspective as a parent. It has helped him to understand others and how they work, he said.

    “We were all kids once; we know what”s going on. I would rather help out than restrict. I want to keep (my children) away from the bad things I”ve seen,” he said.

    Desree Bennett said she supports her husband in his career.

    “Sometimes we don”t see him a lot during the week, but when we do see him, we make the most of it … We”re proud of him,” she said.

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