The uniformed officers and plainclothes support staff members of the George Mason University Department of Police and Public Safety can be found patrolling campus, keeping an eye on large events—and studying alongside students in the classroom.
The department’s employees are given the advantage of being in the middle of academia. Sworn officers and support staff can enroll in 12 credit hours a year of classes on Mason’s campuses with tuition paid. This opportunity puts many of the department’s employees in the middle of student life.
There are eight sworn police officers and five support staff members pursuing higher education along with more than 37,000 Mason students.
“When people see us in the classroom, it shows that we intend to be professionals like everybody else,” said Ryan Crice, Master’s in International Security student at the Schar School of Policy and Government and full-time police officer since 2015. “It takes someone who wants to work in the community professionally and intellectually to serve the on-campus community.”
The opportunity to know a police officer outside of the uniform is beneficial to the community. “There have been situations where students recognize me from class and felt more comfortable reporting events to me and getting guidance,” said Crice. “I think being in the classroom helps me be more present to students.”
“The Mason Police do not just serve the Mason community—we are very much a part of the Mason community,” said Carl Rowan, Mason Police Chief and a former U.S. Marshall. “I like that officers get to interact with fellow students in a non-law enforcement environment while they pursue advanced academic opportunities.”
Crice described numerous occasions where students were in danger or burglarized, and they were able to trust his guidance and reassurances through knowing him in the classroom.
Students who are fortunate enough to know a sworn officer or support staffer through coursework are given the unique opportunity to know someone who protects, serves—and stresses about finals, just as they do.
Crice graduates from the Schar School in summer 2020 but expects to remain on campus afterward.
“Being in graduate school gives me the confidence and backing to be a more effective officer,” he said. “Going forward, I see myself moving up the ranks on the Mason police force.”