Police discuss roles on campus

(From L to R) UNA Chief of Police Kevin Gillilan, Captain Les Jackson and Officer McGee take a break from duties to talk in front of Harrison Fountain. The UNA Police Department, located in the basement of Keller Hall, keeps watch over campus to make sure faculty/staff and students stay safe.

by Life Editor Tyler Hargett

UNA Chief of Police Kevin Gillilan may be the National Chief of the Year, but students should remember it takes more than one officer to keep them safe.

The UNA Police Department, located in the basement of Keller Hall, is always watching over campus to make sure students and employees stay safe.

“It’s the type (of) job where when you come in, you never know if your day’s going to go as planned,” Gillilan said.

The department consists of 15 state-sworn officers, 15 non-sworn public safety officers, and dispatchers. Transportation Services also report to Gillilan.

Besides patrol cars, officers have access to a four-wheeler, a utility task vehicle, Segways, two Humvees and golf carts.

“I found that (my Segway) is a very quick way to get to a meeting,” he said.

Junior Brandon Rylant said patrolling officers have always done their job in supervising UNA’s chapter of his fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha.

“They’ve done their utmost to keep (students) from going to jail,” he said. “If they need to go to jail, they give them an opportunity to get out of that to do what they’re supposed to do.”

Gillilan said the majority of his time is spent in meetings and handling administrative work, but he goes out on campus when he has a chance.

“I like to get out of the office when I can and just walk around and see what’s going on around campus,” Gillilan said. “It’s always good to get out and meet and greet folks on campus. (You) try to get to know them and let them get to know you.”

Gillilan said when emergency situations arise on campus, meetings have to be postponed and the officers must make sure to give concise information to the media.

The department also monitors events on campus, including ballgames and graduations.

Captain Les Jackson holds several positions, including firearms instructor, overseer of operational planning for events and the department’s accreditation officer, helping the department follow the correct procedures in its current revision and training of new policies.

Sergeant Terrance Parker leads Student Orientations, Advisement and Registration (SOAR) presentations and Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate (ALICE) training, which shows what to do in the case of armed intruders on campus.

“(With ALICE), we look at the active shooter incidents and discuss ways to prepare yourself if you ever find yourself involved in one,” he said.

Besides the main office, the department has another office in Rivers Hall. Canine Officer Greg Kirby, who also serves as a community liaison officer, overlooks the area.

There is also a training center for public safety at East Campus, which holds classes for outside law enforcement agents. Some officers also teach classes in other areas of Florence.

Kirby said he and his eight-year-old bomb detection dog, Toby, forms the campus canine division.

“He goes home with me, (and) he’s like part of my family,” Kirby said. “(He’s) friendly (and) doesn’t bite.”

Kirby said Toby is the first bomb dog in northwest Alabama and has, so far, not found any explosives.

“I hope I never find one,” Kirby said. “I tell people, ‘I’ll get fame and glory if I ever find a real bomb.’ But the day I do find one, I have to worry about every place I go and (students) go.”

Rylant said the campus is well-protected by the department.

“(UNA) is a nice place to walk around and not have to worry about being robbed late at night,” he said.

For more information about the department or to file a report, visit the department office or una.edu/police.