What do Safety Security officers do?

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Have you ever wondered what those faces in red polo shirts do after you check into your residence hall after midnight?

Marquette University Safety Security Officers, more commonly known as SSOs are responsible for keeping residence halls secure throughout the late hours of the night. Specifically, from midnight through 8 a.m. They communicate with resident assistants, keep watch of people outside the residence halls and befriend students.

To some, the role of SSOs may seem simple. Annika Bynum, a first-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences, noted that she thinks the job of an SSO seems simple, but mentioned that she thinks there is a lot that goes on in the background.

“Their job seems pretty straightforward. However, when I wake up in the morning for my track practice lifts at 6:30, I see them doing a ton of stuff on the computer. So, it seems easy, but I imagine there is a ton of stuff that goes on in the background that students probably aren’t aware of,” Bynum said.

An SSO shift starts at midnight. When the SSO arrives, they transition with the last desk receptionist on duty and communicate with them about anything that needs to be addressed prior to midnight.

John Scherf, an SSO in Mashuda Hall, noted the process of transition between an SSO and the last desk receptionist on duty.

“I always ask the DR for what is called a ‘passdown’ which is where he or she lets me know who is checked in, what keys are checked out, and what else I need to know before I start,” Scherf said.

While SSOs tend to communicate mostly with desk receptionists, they also help resident assistants with their final tours of the night by letting them know which students are in certain rooms when it is past visitation hours.

Scherf also noted the typical situations and problems he addresses on the job. 

“Most of my contact is with students at the end of the night. We really want to make sure students are safe so I will usually pay close attention to students as they get back to their residence halls. Sometimes we have some people who aren’t part of the Marquette community try to come in to use the bathroom or something and unfortunately I will have to ask them to leave,” Scherf said.

While SSOs are here for students’ safety, they are also there to make sure that students are following Marquette University’s residence hall policies and procedures

Some people may assume that SSOs are hired directly by the university, however, the SSOs are employed by an outside contracting company known as Per Mar Security Services which is a local security contracting company out of Milwaukee.

Caroline Baker, a first-year student in the College of Health Sciences, talks about her appreciation of the SSOs in our community.

“I think I definitely appreciate the SSOs being there for our safety. It may be easy to overlook what they do because we are usually sleeping when they work but I definitely think they are very important in our community. If anything, we, as students should try and make more of an effort to talk to them and get to know them,” Baker said.

Students can learn more about safety on campus by visiting the Campus Safety website.

This story was written by TJ Dysart. He can be reached at theodore.dysart@marquette.edu