The Houstonian sat down with the University Police Department Chief Kevin Morris to discuss a few key topics that might interest incoming students.
H: How long have you been working with SHSU UPD?
A: “I have been here since 1994. I started as a student assistant writing parking tickets and then, worked full time as a police officer since September of 1995.”
H: What are your main duties as police chief?
A: “I have three different areas of responsibility: policing, parking, and now, as of January of the year, emergency management. I have two assistant directors and another director who report to me. I have a deputy chief for policing, another deputy chief who handles parking, and then I have a director who handles emergency management and public information. Emergency management was moved over to us when it was originally reporting to risk management and safety. However, because of how our interaction is on a daily basis, it was deemed that it would be more appropriate that it fell under our area for better management and effectiveness. I think it’s been really good because we’ve seen really a dramatic swing in the production of the KatSafe, the webpage, and the notifications. It’s become more consistent and a little more concise. We’re still always trying to make the system better, especially the webpage and the outreach to the university community.”
H: What is the best part of your job?
A: “Not parking. I get to interact with a lot of different police chiefs from around the state and I listen to the issues that they have. Yeah, we have issues here too, but when I see some of the things that they have to deal with on a daily basis, I am very fortunate and very blessed to be where I am at. The university community here at SHSU is wonderful. The people I work with and the students that attend SHSU…I mean, it’s phenomenal. It is just a great environment, and I think that’s one of the big things that has kept me here over the number of years. It’s the people and the students that we deal with on a daily basis that’s great.”
H: What do you think sets SHSU’s UPD apart from other UPDs?
A: “When you look at yourself and try to compare yourself to others, we’re set up very similarly to other municipalities or other UPDS. We’re very proactive. We like to engage with the university community. One of our goals is that we really like to be out there, we like to intermingle. We don’t want you to be afraid to come to us to talk to us. I think it’s that interaction. I think that what predominantly sets us apart from other universities is that our students feel comfortable coming to us and talking to us and using our officers for extra jobs. Whatever the case may be, I think our university community is comfortable with our officers.”
H: What is your opinion of the safety of SHSU?
A: “I think we have a really great campus, faculty, staff, and students. I think what’s really great about this is that everybody has a little sense of ownership at the university, and I think everybody wants to see things happen a certain way. At the end of the day, everybody kind of comes to an agreement and they take ownership in that. I think when they see something and it doesn’t look right, they’re not afraid to contact us, and we’ll go out and make sure we resolve the situation as amicably as possible that fits best towards the university and for the students and community. I think that’s fantastic. Overall I think our safety at SHSU is great. Do things happen here? Yes. We can’t prevent everything, but we’ve been very fortunate not to have a number of really bad events like what we’ve seen here recently like at UT and other places. Everybody has different beliefs, spectrums, but at the end of the day I think everybody is fairly respectful of that and we kind of go about or business and take care of what we need to do.”
H: What advice would you give to incoming freshmen regarding their safety?
A: “The biggest thing is being aware of where you’re at and what’s going on around you. It’s very easy to become complacent because we don’t always have a lot of things going on. I think when people do experience or see something that is not right, it kind of surprises them and I don’t think their first thought is to contact our department. The biggest thing is just being aware of what’s going on on campus and knowing where you’re at. When you do see something that does not appear to be correct or may be out of place, trust your gut feeling and give us a call. We can come by to check on it just to be sure that something is not out of place. If it is, then we’re able to address it before any worse than what it is. Recognizing that SHSU has a number of resources across campus that someone can go to for help. For example, if someone is behaving oddly, it’s not against the law to be odd. However, there are times when people kind of go past a boundary, it’s technically not against the law, but you can tell something’s not right. Well, the Dean of Student’s Office, has a Students of Concern Team and on their website you can report these types of behaviors that could become threatening or may put this individual at risk of hurting themselves. You can certainly contact us, and we can get them to the appropriate resources, but if you don’t want to contact us you can go through the Dean of Student’s office’s website. Getting our students, faculty, and staff to see something and say something.”