An interview with John Brandt about Safety & Security @ USG

This blog post is in a questionanswer-note format. Edits made for clarification or simplification are in [brackets].  The interview I had with Mr. John Brandt, the Safety and Security Manager at USG, occurred on 11/19/2018 at about two in the afternoon. It lasted for an hour.

“How did you get into the field of Safety and Security, and what brought you to USG?”

“In 1980 I was hired as a police officer for University of Maryland at College Park. I worked there for thirty years, I left there as a Captain to…take over here.”

“So, you had a [University of Maryland] connection?”

“Right, thirty years as a university cop…so a lot of experience with university public safety, policing…commercial and residential crime prevention. I did a lot of those different types of projects…I did training, I managed a lot of different units in the department.”

“Started from the grunt level, moved up to the top?”

“Yep, right from entry level.”

“When did you become manager here?”

“2010… been here almost eight years now.”

“You had, I guess, the connection to [USG] through the University of Maryland?”

“Originally… there was no presence like mine on [USG’s campus.] There were some security guards, but they started here a long long time ago with one building, one guard. So the guard just reported to the facilities department. There was building manager who…kept track of payment, stuff like that. But he didn’t have any experience in crime prevention, or university policing or anything like that. That went along for a while as the campus grew…and as the campus grew security grew with it. Years before I came here, maybe five years before I came here…special events got needed some sort of police presence.”

“Some dedicated team?”

“Someone to take care of the place, and the University generally looks within itself. So when you graduate from here if you go to the graduation celebration you’ll see University of Maryland College Park police officers. We’ll bring a whole team of them out here and…if a traffic light fails they’ll manage the traffic control, crowd control…get rid of any disruptions.

“Are you talking about the [local police department] over here?”

“No, no – University of Maryland at College Park. They’ll send me a whole team of officers. The reason is – if I use Montgomery County Police, one I have to figure out how to pay them which is difficult…but let’s say do you remember the…shooting and hostage taking years ago [in Silver Spring]? If I had say six Montgomery County Police Officers working here, off duty, working my campus, [and another situation like that happened again], they’d say “Sorry, got to go.” Their responsibility is to their county, and they’d be called right back on duty…I bring University of Maryland Police Officers out, they work for me. And, they all know me…basically I manage, I give an operations order, I set up my guards…and I run it.”

“Do you collaborate with the security manager who is at the other university as well – do you trade notes?”

“There are no – well, actually there’s one. But each University of our nine here has its own police department. So I can collaborate with the different departments as necessary, I also collaborate with their Title IX people, their judicial programs people, their behavioral assessment teams, that’s all part of what I do. University College is the only one that does not have a police department and one of their reasons is that they’re so scattered out all over the place that security is easier for them to run. They run it internally, all their own employees, while I run it by contract. I have a company that works for me.”

“At any rate, about five years before I came here [to work as manager] I was the guy in charge of the team from College Park that would come out for special events, so I got to know the director here, student services, staff. I got to identify the need for someone like me. Then before I retired, one of my Majors…they hired him here as a consultant to start putting policy into place, but he didn’t actively do what I do. Then he left in 2010 about the time I retired, and I came over as a consultant, originally at about twenty hours a week part-time…transitioned in, was asked “can you do this too, can you do this too,” up to 40 hours. They put the whole security contract on me, they put access control on me, all the things that used to be hooked up to facilities and such – and then they started adding stuff, the [clerical] stuff, title IX, as it grew until now…I’m overwhelmed. Busy, busy, busy.”

“Hopefully the “overwhelmed” will die down a little bit.”

“I don’t think it ever will – the new building brings a lot of new responsibilities, in fact my staff will have to increase from, well, me, to me and somebody else at least. I do have twenty guards, but…”

“Outside of the twenty guards do you have any delegation, subordinates whatsoever?”

“I do not. I can hire a student employee, I’m in the process of looking for a student employee – are you interested? If you do know someone, please tell them to come and talk to me.”

“You’re looking for someone security-minded and interested in the field, or do they have to have background?”

“I’ve had both…people who are aimed towards police jobs and criminal justice, and went on, and people with no connection at all. The job here isn’t really them doing a lot of that stuff, it’s a lot of office work, filing, logistics…as an example when you go through the classrooms, you’ll notice there’s [a security information sheet] on every podium, that’s for my faculty and staff that we built for them. I have to have someone go around to every classroom every week and make sure – because it’s there for the faculty to take, need to restock…I don’t have the time, but I could use a student, pay a student.”

“Would that position be full-time, etc.?”

It’d be about twenty hours a week, part-time. But the neat thing…I can work around your schedule. So when you change your class schedule, we can change your [job] schedule…and it works.”

“So, it’s not about hours, it’s more or less finishing the tasks you need to get done?”

“It is. It’s a great student position, and it’s empty at the moment. Also, I mean – I got 38 years of experience in university security…I used to teach a class to our student police academy at the other campus on how to get ready for police jobs, you know, what to look for, how the process works, so…in conversation with me you could get a fair amount of information on the police business, might help [my student assistant] to refine their search if they’re looking into police or federal or whatever.”

“I know there’s a criminal justice department here – have you given any talks, or spoken to any of them at all?”

“I get invited to classrooms around the campus on a fairly regular basis, mostly it has to do with emergency preparations…how to prepare your life for that.”

“Is that specifically for [the Criminal Justice department students]?”

“I do it for anybody. I’ll go talk to any class about anything, anybody wants me to talk about as long as I can get information out to them that will help make their life better and safer and smoother…my job is to protect this campus. So, anything I can do, so when that fire happens you’ve already thought about how to get out of the building, or anything like that at all, anything that makes you better prepared to meet your life. Same as when I was a police officer – I may have just been a cop on a campus, but I have a responsibility toward my student body to help them in any way that I can. I don’t teach a class per say, but I have a lot of information that can help…that’s why I show up at every town hall, every orientation, everything I can get my hands on, because it helps you guys have a better and more successful time here.”

“From a Safety and Security, what are your thoughts about the new building being built on campus? I know you said about the one building with one security guard, when a new building is built what are you security concerns?”

“Staffing will grow with it.”

“Do you see it as a positive thing, or as an “oh boy, more people to manage?””

“Oh, no, no – there will be more people to manage but that’s just part of the job…the benefit is solely, directly aimed at [students], this is more facilities, more equipment, more classes, more programs… I just have to make up for [campus growth] …the new building will just require more coverage, and I have more things built into it to help me do my job better – I have a security operations center for instance.”

“Did you have any say in what they’re building in there?”

“I’m peripherally involved, architecturally speaking…they want to know what kind of hinges do you want on the doors for security, what kind of doors should be there…should it be electronically controlled or key controlled. Then the entire key schedule for that building has to be planned – you can’t just make it up as you go. You have to know what keyholes go in what door…is there a grand-master key that will open the whole building with some exceptions…key for the entire dental suite, or a key that opens this suite or that suite or this floor, offices, study rooms. All the way down to individual user keys. All that has to be planned out in advance so when the building opens the locks are in and keys are ready to go…we have very tight key control.”

“Do you have electronic unlocking for any of the doors?”

“Sure, we have some in this building…the exteriors are all electronically locked on all the buildings.”

“Is there going to be a new security desk like there is in building 3?”

“Yes… [and everything’s on cameras too].”

“The entire campus is already pretty covered in cameras, right?”

“Better than any of the nine campuses that students come from…I have a tighter area [to cover] and an administration that has been fairly responsive to my needs, my request to them to provide for security, so we pretty much have every door coming and going, every hallway in every building.”

“And that’s something you push for constantly?”

“Exactly.”

“How did you develop the sense for not just cameras but all these different security things- is this something you picked up along the way, or is this something you had a specific class for?”

“There aren’t classes – there are ways to learn, takes years. The goal is, in the end, when you’re deprived of the ability to go out there let’s say I’m stuck in my office – can I see everything I need to see? If I can’t see it, I need to put a camera there.

We had a brief lapse is the focused conversation to talk about credit card skimmers. Remember – whether you’re at a gas station or anywhere else, grab the card reader and feel for any detachable parts, shake it hard, to make sure there’s no skimmer attachment that will take your information. Link for more info here.

“My personal impression is that everyone here – student, faculty – we’re all upstanding law-abiding civil people. Is that something you’d say is accurate – and then off of that, how would you relate the pretty much near zero crime rate we have. Is that because we have an excellent security protocol and team, or because we have a kind of easy population to work with?”

“It’s a combination of factors, and I’ll give you one you may not have ever even thought of. We have gated parking here. Bad guys do not want to be the fourth car in line behind the gate when the police arrive. Bad guys don’t use gated parking – people don’t even think about that; this gated parking system is part of our security system and it provides for you. But there are a number of factors. First and foremost – we have no residence halls here. If you do any research at all you’ll find [residence halls] bring up to 75% of crime to campuses, because they provide a living, sleeping, place for alcohol, place for sexual assaults. All that type of stuff. If you think about it, Universities are a place with a bullseye on them. An average person on an average university has a little more money than anyone else…slightly nicer car, little bit nicer computer, nicer phone – “

“And probably carrying that stuff around in their backpack.”

“Etcetera. And universities are – to university police – we know that they are enormous bullseyes to a surrounding community that might not be quite as well off. They also have young people, who are – let’s face it – not quite as sophisticated in protecting themselves as other people may be, and they have women. I say that bluntly. Essentially, that is an attraction to this campus – young single women – [and it is the same at any other] campus.”

I realize that this may be an uncomfortable statement to read. I’ll tell you what I told Mr. Brandt – I am a nursing student, and in nursing – like in security, like in most professional fields – there are uncomfortable things that we must simply acknowledge as unfortunate truths. When someone with thirty-eight years of experience in the field of safety and security tells you that young women on a college campus are a targeted population, then they’re probably onto something.

“As a result of all these things on campuses, campuses have become a target. I’ll keep going – our students generally are not as young as the other campuses because we don’t in general have any freshman or sophomores. So most of our students are anywhere from two to eight years older and more experienced and more adult and more mature – and they’re not getting to campus for the first time…and “look at all this alcohol.” Not here, [partly] because of the age of our students. And there’s – and this is personal opinion that I’ll give you from this one, this is developed from thirty-eight years of looking at campuses and stuff like that. The population here – our students – are the exact population of students that every campus loves and wants – personal opinion.”

“There are generally – if you want to lump it into two chunks…there are two populations. There’s the party population, and the “I’m here to study, I’m not doing that” population. They’re very hard to pull apart, and police departments are heavily involved with this party population – I call them the entitled students. Now, that doesn’t mean just being entitled to go to college makes you one of these, but – there are a lot of people in a larger campus who are young, eighteen – nineteen years old, first time out of the house, their college is being paid for by somebody, they have been told since they were three that they are going to go to college…they go away to college, the last words their parents say to them are “It’s going to be the best four years of your life!” And they proceed to try to make it the best years of their life, and there are people in College Park who – in their four-year career on the campus – I had interactions with that same person six or seven times, in a negative faction, as a police officer, because of that lifestyle.”

“We don’t have almost any of those students here, and if they were…they’re still rather focused by the time they get here, they’ve got rid of that first two years of college…focused on that degree…our population here is very, very focused on getting their degree. There is almost no student life here. I like student life, but as a cop I know student life brings problems. But because we have nine universities meshed – they don’t really mesh that well…you’re in your own group, so you tend to have a smaller student body that’s much more focused on academics, and as a result there’s no alcohol culture here. At College Park on any given day…I’d smell alcohol on people’s breath three or four times a day. Rarely if ever do I ever smell alcohol on someone’s breath here. People come here, they study, they work – and they go home, because they have a job and two internships already, or they have a family…our student population is so much more focused, there’s not any time for this extracurricular stuff.”

“We have no sports, almost no fraternities or sororities, no social situation – especially that involves alcohol – that would bring it onto this campus. We’re a commuter school. And all those reasons put together – that and the fact that we’re not in downtown Rockville. We’re kind of out here hard to find – so the professional thieves haven’t spotted us as a target yet, or if they did they went “I’m not parking in that garage, I’ll get caught.””

“So they don’t see [USG] as a worthy spot.”

“Exactly…adding to that we have the robust CCTV system here.”

On the topic of the camera system at USG, Mr. Brandt shared several anecdotes concerning previous incidents of campus security using the cameras to either proactively or retrospectively deal with crime. One incident included a serial wallet thief in the library. By the second wallet the perpetrator was identified, and by the third they were caught.

“Professional thieves notice those cameras very quickly, and that limits what we have going on.”

“They don’t see it as a worthy opportunity.”

“They see it as a chance to get caught…those types of things tend to discourage theft. We don’t tell people how long we keep video, but we keep it for a long, long time.”

Another anecdote detailed someone stealing a calculator, and them being identified within twenty-four hours. Yet another, about a cart outside the library with free books on it – a sign saying “free” had been left on the cart, and some people had taken the cart itself. It was returned shortly thereafter after the people responsible were identified.

Continuing on the subject of factors which make USG less of a target for thieves;

“University of Maryland has [a number] cars in service at any given time, but there are [a much higher number] of buildings on that campus… [the campus police] are not very visible to the professional thieves. They know that they’re out in cars patrolling, not in the buildings. Here I have a security officer in each building, and extra floating around. They do rounds…and I can tell whether they are missing portions of their rounds [based on guards clicking a device against a wall mounted sensor along their patrol routes] and I can defend them, [if people say they aren’t completing their rounds and they are]. I lay out those rounds…I can also tell if one guard has forgotten to check [a certain place].”

“Here’s an example. Open rooftops are horrible. [Two reasons – one, active shooters can use them, and two, there can be suicide attempts there.] Our roof doors are always locked. And some of the roof doors are on the sixth floor of a five-floor building. So, my guards have to go up, touch the button…and check the door while they’re up there [because they are a major security concern]. If I notice one of my guards is missing the roof doors, I know they’re one either lazy or I can retrain…to make sure they’re not missing certain portions of their rounds…as far as they’re concerned it’s probably just me being a big brother, but it really does [make this campus safer].

With the conversation having touched on suicide, I decided to broach the topic. This connects to the next topic afterwards, concerning collaboration between Safety and Security and the Counseling department.

“Has there been a jumping incident here?”

“We had a, what was classified by the Montgomery County Police about ten years ago as a suicide, yes.”

“That’s rough. But it’s good we haven’t had one since then.”

“Correct – always good. And there’s things you can do – again, this is part of what I do.”

“Do you collaborate with the counseling office whatsoever?”

“Sure – I talk with [Dr. Jonathan Kandell] all the time. We’re both on the behavioral assessment team, also, so we work with people who have issues and problems and concerns. He does not consult with me – he’s confidential. But as far as if there’s an incident, I will refer to him and so on and so forth. He does not share – he’s a doctor, he does not share [patient information] – but if I bring him stuff, I can talk to him.”

The topic shifted back to the subject of patrols deterring thieves.

“When you’re here, there are never less than four guards here in uniform moving around constantly. Which again, is a real detraction for the people who want to come here to steal.”

“I get all these notifications [from the UMB alert system] that people are looking down at their phones and they aren’t paying attention, and then suddenly someone’s mugging them. I’m curious to know if you’ve noticed an increasing amount of reckless behavior on campus…countless people, I’ve seen, leave their laptops out because they feel as though [they won’t be stolen].”

“The bane of my existence…it has always been here, it’s something that we try to discourage. As far as looking down at phones, our distances are relatively short and fairly well protected. For instance, the boardwalk, which is unfortunately closed, has [a significant number] cameras on it…I can watch it on my phone while walking around campus. It’ll have another [amount] of cameras on it when it reopens, and it has the best lights in the state on it. So, I don’t have a real issue or problem out there. Our biggest – the bane of my existence – are students who feel just a little too safe. It’s like a two-edged sword [my guards and I doing our jobs well], resulting in our students using their personal property – expensive personal property – as what we call a “place marker.””

Mr. Brandt detailed several situations that arise when someone on campus leaves their stuff around as a place marker. One – they have to lock the room until the person comes back from wherever they went, which is a massive inconvenience to all involved. Two – they can take the stuff and hold onto it, which leads to false stolen reports and more stress for students involved. Not enough people are aware of security possibly holding place marker items to know to come to them to get them back.

“That’s the problem. The day we do get hit by a professional it’s going to be five laptops, three or four phones, in the space of two hours…I’ll get them on video, but that first time…we’ve already had people come in and mess with classroom materials [and we’ve caught them and banned them from campus]. I’m talking about [people turning projectors backwards so professors can’t use them] …breaking computer screens…we do have people here on campus that do not belong here, and the guards get to know them.”

The conversation turned to a brief discussion of the benefits of using a contract with a company for security personnel versus internal employees.

“Have you had any issues with any of your guards?”

“Sure. All the time – I’ve been doing this for years…I’m doing pretty well now, and my guards have to…have a huge list of things before they can work here…”

Once again, the conversation touched on health.

“…and after a while, you can get to know certain students, and you’ll realize when you have one that’s worked up. And you can identify that person. We know we have certain people who have emotional difficulties or are on certain medications or whatever, we know that because they’ve either self-communicated or it’s obvious…we have staff or students who are, for instance, diabetic, and the guards know it because they’ve watched them go to the wellness room to use their insulin or whatever.”

If you didn’t know, we have a wellness room in building 3. It is not a first-aid room. Primarily it is for breastfeeding women to either breastfeed or pump. There will be another in the new building when it opens.

“My guards would know who, in the staff…are diabetic. So, if they see them “asleep” on their desk, they’re not going to assume they’re asleep. They’re going to get them treatment, check on their welfare. So, the guards get to know the life around here, they spot the irregularities.”

Mr. Brandt explained that one of the security team’s many duties is to recognize faces – sometimes unwelcome ones. Here is a hypothetical situation to explain what I mean – a student at USG ends a relationship with an abusive significant other. The student’s ex knows that the student attends USG, and the student is afraid that their ex may come to campus at some point for any reason. The student doesn’t know what to do – as a last resort, they talk to one of the security guards. Then they find out there are procedures in place for this exact situation.

“Down at my desk, we have a file…of anything we can get. A woman comes to us and says “I have a separation agreement,” and we ask for photos, and we basically have a file downstairs. The guards all look at the pictures, and if they see that person on campus, they call 911. Immediately. Or if the person who gave the information comes to us and says “My ex is here,” 911, like that. And inside that file is a [standing] letter from me to the Montgomery County Police detailing what is going on and asking for them to ban the person from campus legally. So, we do…denial of access frequently.”

I asked Mr. Brandt whether or not there was some formal basis for this denial of access, if there had to be legal documentation in place – the answer was no. Informal or formal, whether there’s a divorce agreement or you suspect someone is stalking you, it’s all the same to the security team.

If you are that hypothetical student, please talk to one of the guards, or talk to Mr. Brandt. They are here for you.

“All you have to do is type me something that has some pictures and says “if this person’s on campus they got no business.” So, they’re not a student, staff or faculty, have no lawful business to pursue on a campus, and are acting in a manner that is disruptive of the educational or professional-administration function of the university… they’re trespassing. That’s where the benefit of me being a cop comes in, I know what the laws are, and so I can write a letter to Montgomery County Police…guards have photographs, they’re always looking for people.”

I steered the interview back to the list of questions I had brought with me.

“[Are there any major security flaws on campus?]”

“Our inability to get our students to…look, it’s “study together,” or go into the room with someone else. It’s a social thing, it’s a psychological thing, but most of our students tend to go away as far as they can in a corner and find their own place to study – that’s not safe. I used to lock half the classrooms on the campus and keep them locked…the goal is to clump people together so they’re safer. So, you can say, “Hey you guys, I’m going to go use the bathroom can you watch my computer for a minute?”  I would much prefer that people got a little more social and did that – studied in groups, even in twos…”

“Or even just…safety in numbers.”

“Exactly. If I could somehow concentrate all of our students into one area to study I would, because it’s so much easier to keep an eye on people, ensure their safety. It’s why our classrooms don’t lock from the inside – it’s because you’re far more likely, thousands of times more likely, to be raped, robbed, or murdered in a classroom than to have an active shooter break into the classroom. It’s just reality – you have to deal with the real world. An active shooter…there hasn’t been an active shooter on a college campus in two years. Two years. This is probably the single safest environment you’ll ever [be in] in your life.”

I checked some statistics online – there have been incidents where people have been shot while on college/university campuses in the past two years, but no “active shooters” like the recent tragedy at Parkland.

“An impressive feat.”

“It’s not even so much a feat as it is. All these things you do – reality put it together. The fragility is our students own desire to be alone, to study in back corners, and not realize that is placing them at a risk.”

“As the campus expands, do you think that level of security is going to degrade?”

“I don’t think so. We’re going to keep doing what we’re going to do – I’ll get more guards, more cameras – there is a stunning amount of money already sunk into the video system in that building…and I had professional help for that.”

Again, the conversation shifted to detailed security topics – this time, keys. The keys used for USG are all proprietary, made by a private company out of state. There are different forms of keys for each building on campus, and there will be another new one for the new building.

“I feel as though, just through this conversation, I have become safer on this campus.”

“I don’t want to give you a false sense of security. Part of it is your own awareness…if you see something, say something, tell me…I try to get to as many student groups as possible because I want a lot of people to be comfortable coming up to my office and going “Hey, did you know – – – – -?” Probably, all the feedback – we unfortunately opened the other day and the weather deteriorated like crazy…we take abuse one way or the other, if we open, we get abuse for opening, if we close, we get abuse for closing, most of the comments will come to me. As a result, people know me…I’m the guy who sends the message. Technically, if you get down to it, each campus would be responsible for their own stuff – if there was an active shooter on campus, they would all have to tell their own students about it…it’s better for us to do it, rather than have the other campuses do it.”

“If you go to your home campus [website], and look at what’s called the annual security report, you’ll see the chart for your campus and you can calculate for population what the averages are – and behind it you’ll see my chart. So I communicate with all nine campuses… if you’re a student at UMBC you can see all the crime here without having to try to figure out which is what and where. And that’s how we do that.”

Once again, the topic changed.

“I am a nursing student – I’m very interested in the interdisciplinary relationships between different disciplines. I’m curious if you’ve had any interactions in your work with nurses.”

“Constantly.”

“Could you tell me about those?”

“We’re always taking people to the hospital, or going along because a crime occurred, and then – unfortunately, in this world as a police officer some significant number of your arrests are going to involve physical confrontation, they’re going to involve fights, involve somebody who has drunk so much alcohol that they’re poisoned – but they’re driving. So now you have to go to the hospital with them or whatever – and the ones that go really bad and end up in really heavy physical altercations you’re going to break people. Or you get broken, one or the other. I mean, just in my career I’ve had six or seven trips to the hospital for injuries on the job. It just is. It’s not – police is not a real great job to look at for thirty years and then retirement, because a lot of cops won’t finish. They’ll disable out, or just leave the business.”

“But we interact with nurses all the time. And I can tell you – many times very positively, and sometimes very negatively. I had a car chase – I was chasing a motorcycle up and down route one. We would hit a red light, and he’d go between the cars and we’d have to get up on the shoulder and put two tires up on the curb and keep going…finally [he] drove over a curb median and hit the outer curb, flipped over the handle bars and crashed…right in the middle of College Park campus. Should have been the “end.” So I’m bailing out of my car, and I’m on the other side of the road, so I’ve got to run across the median…I’m about ten feet out and he takes his helmet off and shouts “I give up, I give up!” And when the first cop got close enough, he just swung at him. The cop – [a University of Maryland police officer, who later became a Montgomery County police officer], got under the strike and tackled him. He gave up, we cuffed him – he fought until there were three cops. He was wild. So we cuff him, I put him in a cell, I’m doing all the paperwork. Takes about two hours to take care of all this stuff.”

“I’m in the cell area, and I’m looking at him – and I hear him make a noise and I look up to see what it is. He’s sitting there looking at me and [he groans] and I just watch his [shoulder slide down.] And – the bone was broken, the collarbone. He’d gone over the handlebars, and he’d [attacked with his helmet] – we didn’t do anything to him or anything. So I’m like “Crap, call the ambulance.” Get an ambulance in there, they immobilize him, I got to follow him to the hospital because [he’s a prisoner]… and the nurses see this poor kid who’s been “beat up” by the cop, and it was like the coldest I’ve ever been treated by nurses. They were not happy with me – because he was in a lot of pain, and the paperwork shows I kept him in a cell for two hours, “how dare you,” it was horrible. And then his blood tests came back – alcohol, PCP, cocaine, and marijuana. Basically, because the PCP was in him…probably broke his collarbone going over the handlebars. Never even knew it. But later when the PCP wore off…”

“So when the blood panel comes back, all of a sudden all of the nurses are nice to me – “Do you need a cup of coffee, you want some donuts?” and I was all their buddy again. But like I said…six, seven times hospitalized for injuries that occurred in the course of the job…realistically, nurses and doctors, hospital people – are our best buddies. We actually adore you guys… We do really care about those people, because those people are going to take care of us when we show up with a [bullet] in our shoulder. We would do anything for a hospital, most cops – which is why it was so disappointing to have all of the nurses hate me.”

I asked whether or not Mr. Brandt was aware of or had an opinion on the incident in Utah where police officers arrested a nurse for denying them access to a patient to draw blood.

“They were wrong. They were wrong – simply put, they were wrong. We need retraining – I don’t know if you know, but there’s something like 52,000 police departments out there. The level of training varies. My department – when I was a Lieutenant one of my sergeants had a PHD in clinical psychology. Almost no one in my department from Captain up did not have at least a Master’s degree…we ran a police academy… [the training levels varies].”

“There’s different types of police departments…one of them is the type that owns where it is. Park police, university police…if you throw a brick through a 7/11 window and a Montgomery County cop arrests you, the owner or representative of the 7/11 has to come to court as the victim. The cop is merely a witness. Just because he saw you throw a brick through a window does not mean you didn’t have permission. So if the owner doesn’t show up – case dismissed. On a university – I’m the representative of the university, so I’m not only the witness I represent the university I don’t need the owner of the building…we tend to think much more “we own,” and for this I apologize but – you’re mine. I’m a parent, I’m a protector – we tend to be very protective of our campus and our people and our community. The county out here – they work for the county…it’s a different kind of policing. You do get community-oriented agencies – Montgomery County’s is pretty darn good – but I don’t think anybody beats a university [at community-oriented policing].”

At this point we were reaching the hour mark in our conversation. Mr. Brandt had a meeting to go to, but I managed to squeeze in a few more questions.

“Have you considered teaching [self-defense, security training, etc.] classes on campus at all?”

“I don’t have the time, or the necessary equipment or team.”

Is there one message you want to get to the students through the blog?”

“Try to phrase this, but basically – don’t try to think of specific emergencies, try to think of [all emergencies]. What do you need for a fire, for a smoke, for an active shooter – basically, personal awareness of what’s going on around you, knowing where you are at the time, and knowing how to leave. That’s the biggest thing…for instance from where I’m sitting right now, I know where all the exits are, there are three ways out of this hallway. I don’t have to be paranoid, because I’m prepared.”

If you’re a member of faculty and you’re interested in having Mr. Brandt give an emergency preparedness presentation to your class – takes about fifteen minutes – just email him about it. Many thanks to Mr. Brandt for allowing me to interview him. I hope all who read this blog learned something.

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