Lauranne Stouder – The Corsair
Like most professionals, Wallace Carter starts his day reading and sending e-mails. But unlike much of the rest of the working world, he wears a blue uniform and carries handcuffs as part of his job. Carter is a police officer on the Pensacola Junior College Warrington campus.
The duties of PJC police officers vary according to which of the three campuses they work on. For instance, there is much more work involved with traffic control and enforcement on the Pensacola campus, which is larger than the Warrington and Milton campuses.
All campus officers are state certified, the same as city, county and state law enforcement officers, and also have the power to make arrests.
Arrests and major incidents don’t happen often on campus. Officers work hard to keep students and faculty safe, trying to make themselves accessible to students to help find out what is going on and to establish a relationship in which students are comfortable telling them about any problems or concerns.
Many of the officers’ daily tasks involve giving directions to students, opening their car when they lock the keys inside, or jump-starting a vehicle. They also investigate crimes and patrol the area looking for people who shouldn’t be on campus. These patrols help deter crime and provide a sense of security to the campus community.
Every day brings a different event or situation, said Carter.
“Police officers, even college police officers, can’t or shouldn’t fall into routines or patterns. The reason I say this is because if we stop expecting the unexpected then we could fall prey to someone who wants to hurt us or someone else. So we try not to let our guard down,” he said.
Carter has been working as a PJC police officer for almost 10 years, coming to the school after working as a prison guard.
“I have loved every minute of my time at PJC. It has the warmest and friendliest environment,” he said.
Carter said his most exciting assignments have involved helping provide security for top government officials when they visit PJC. During such visits he has had an opportunity to work with the Secret Service to see how that agency performs its job.
In addition to the sworn law enforcement officers, a number of students work with the PJC Police Department as part of the school’s work-study program. Heather Lutrick is one of those students and she works with Carter on the Warrington campus.
“I love my job, and the people I work with, they provide a comfortable working environment,” said Lutrick.
Lutrick has worked with the campus police for two years. Her daily duties include answering the phones, issuing parking decals, writing parking tickets and helping lock up campus buildings at the end of the day.
“There is work that has to be done, and when there is down time I get to catch up on some school work. I also love this job because it is so flexible around my school schedule,” said Lutrick.