Photo courtesy of Drake Security
In his capacity as security supervisor for Drake University, Mark Risvold wears many hats. He’s a surveillance monitor, a law enforcer and, more recently, a pig wrestler.
On a recent morning, Risvold and other members of the Drake Security staff chased a pink and brown spotted piglet around a parking lot near campus.
“We got a call saying that the little guy was loose, so we had to respond to it,” Risvold said with a laugh. “Turns out he was the pet of someone living near campus and had been received as a Christmas present. We made sure he got back to his owners safe.”
For Risvold, it’s moments like this that break the monotony of life as a security officer.
Equipped with walkie-talkies, handcuffs, pepper spray and retractable ASP batons, Risvold and his staff spend most days scouring campus for wrongdoers, whether they’re stealing or parking illegally.
Day shifts, Risvold said, are more service-oriented, including jump-starting cars, unlocking cars, ticket enforcement and monitoring campus safety.
“Even driving around is a deterrent for potential crime,” Risvold said. “If someone is looking to steal a car and sees us patrolling, the hope is that they’ll keep on walking. But, then again, it is fun catching someone every once and a while.”
During the evening, security performs the task of locking up buildings while remaining vigil for crime, which, Risvold said, is when the team gets the most crime related calls.
However, one of the biggest issues the force sees at night is intoxication.
“We can’t take a drunk individual back to their room in case something were to happen to them,” Risvold said. “It’s necessary that we call the medics or the police. We’re not out to get students. Most of us are fathers, too, and we’d want our kids treated right.”
Another substantial duty for security officers is responding to calls for investigations.
“These range from investigations of student feuds to personal injury accidents to criminal and policy violations,” said Hans Hanson, campus security chief. “We do approximately 1,000 investigations a year, categorize them and save a statistical database.”
Not every shift is as exciting as the pig incident, so officers do what they can to keep themselves alert and entertained — sometimes at the expense of the staff rookies.
“We have this dummy, and sometimes when we’re bored we’ll mess with the new guys,” Risvold said. “Sometimes, we’ll stick it in the back seat at night and tell them to go get the car. One evening, several years back, we hung it from the scoreboard in the football stadium and told a rookie he had to go cut it down. He almost quit on the spot.”
Despite his jokes, Risvold takes his job very seriously. Besides lawbreakers, one of the largest forces he battles against is misconception about the security office.
“Everyone thinks we’re against the students, but we’re not,” Risvold said. “You only hear about the bad side, but really we’re here to help.”