March 15, 2013
Police lieutenant emphasizes community service
Campus safety is a top priority – and a big undertaking -- at our University. SIU is a community of 17,000 students, 5,000 faculty and staff, and nearly 7.5 million square feet of buildings. We expect a great deal from the professionals in our Department of Public Safety, and they take their responsibilities to heart, down to the smallest detail.
"We empathize when someone leaves campus and calls with a concern, such as leaving a coffee pot on," says Lt. Harold Tucker. "We help so we can prevent a problem. We are completely service-oriented."
That has been Harold’s focus since joining the department in 1989 after working for the Carbondale Police Department for 4 ½ years. Originally from Chicago and an SIU alum, he oversees 30 uniformed officers and the Saluki Patrol, which includes 20 students, as the patrol division commander. Though he has administrative responsibilities, Harold isn’t content to sit behind a desk.
"The people who are responding on the campus are my people. Sometimes it means going to a gas leak at a building and working with that uniformed officer to help solve the problem. Or it means handling something somewhere else so that officer can stay on scene to help. In my job, I don’t need to be there. But when you wear the uniform, you never stop being hands-on."
Harold is a familiar face all around campus. He meets regularly with student groups planning events so the department knows what to expect and the students understand the officers’ responsibilities.
"In a college environment, our job really is to help the community, especially students, but we also have to do our jobs as police officers."
The job includes extensive training that goes beyond traditional police skills. Officers do engage in firearms training, but they do so every other month, which is more than the state requires. They learn new techniques for interviewing, regularly receive updates on new federal and state laws, undergo hazardous materials and crisis intervention training, and gain expertise on computer crimes and social media – just to mention a few.
As challenging as police work can be, Harold has faced far more significant challenges in recent months. Born with an over-abundance of iron in his system, the condition destroyed his liver. Cancer also was discovered.
"When the doctor gave me the diagnosis, he was welling up with tears. I had to cheer him up. I had a lot to live for."
Harold was placed on a transplant waiting list a year ago, and underwent the 12-hour procedure in January. Though he did have to battle rejection within the first week of surgery, his recovery is going well and he is cancer-free. He expects to return to work later this spring.
"Things happen in your life. You have to face what is going on and deal with it in the most positive way you can."
We look forward to a clean bill of health for Harold and his return to work. His skills and commitment – and those of all the members of the Department of Public Safety – are vital to keeping our campus safe.