For DPS officer, safety work comes full circle

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Marquette students know they can see officers from the Department of Public Safety roaming campus after dark. However, there are also members of DPS who protect students from behind a desk. These are the Safety Service Officers who work as security in residence halls from 12 a.m. to 7 a.m. each night.

Safety Security Officer Evelyn Diaz swipes in students at McCormick Hall. Photo by Alyce Peterson/ alyce.peterson@mu.edu

Evelyn Diaz, or “Eve,” is an SSO in McCormick Hall. Diaz has a long, rich history at Marquette dating back to 1994. In that year, Diaz left Puerto Rico for Milwaukee. From there, she was a participant in Marquette’s Upward Bound program, which helps low-income students prepare for college by attending tutoring sessions during the winter and pre-college courses during the summer.

“It keeps you motivated to have good grades,” Diaz said. “There are just great people.”

Diaz’s mother, who is deaf and mute, followed her to Milwaukee when she left Puerto Rico and still lives in the area. Her father was murdered in Puerto Rico when he was 17. Despite these challenges, Diaz has always wanted to be in law enforcement. She said she feels at home in her position at Marquette.

“Come January, it will be eight years that I have been here,” Diaz said. “Marquette is where I want to stay.”

Diaz,who will celebrate her 34th birthday Oct. 24, also has two children. She hopes for her 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter to attend Marquette once they graduate from high school.

Diaz was an SSO from 2005 until 2010.  She then became a public safety officer patroling the streets of campus, which she described as something close to typical law enforcement. She is now back to being an SSO. Diaz also occasionally works as the early morning shuttle for students who need to be picked up from residences or libraries from 3 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Since Diaz works nights, she spends most of her days asleep. She usually sleeps in four-hour increments and gets a total of around eight hours of sleep a day.

“It is a difficult life,” Diaz said. “I have dark curtains in my room to make it seem like it is nighttime. I have two alarm clocks, just in case one doesn’t go off.”

On a typical evening, Diaz and her partner officer attend role call at 11:15 p.m. At this meeting, all the SSO officers meet at DPS headquarters, located in the 16th Street Parking Structure at 749 N. 16th St., and listen to reports or concerns with their supervisor. They are then given time to check the residence hall where they work before starting their shifts behind the desk. They search for unsecured doors or broken property, then assume desk responsibilities at midnight.

All of the residence halls only require one SSO officer working, except for Schroeder and McCormick. Mark Thurman, who is a new SSO, spends Sunday and Monday nights working with Diaz at the McCormick Hall front desk.

“I am learning from her,” Thurman said. “She is a very good teacher.”

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Evelyn Diaz’s father was killed when she was 17 years old. Diaz’s father was in fact killed when he was 17 years old. The Tribune regrets the error.

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