Patrolling Sourthern – A two-part series in the lives of the officers of the Department of Public Safety

Terry Hylton, department of public safety office manager, said he enjoys his job and meeting the students.

Kristin Wilfing

Terry Hylton, department of public safety office manager, said he enjoys his job and meeting the students.

They patrol Missouri Southern’s campus every day and talk with students daily.

They are Department of Public Safety officers.

“They are a good bunch of guys,” said Ken Kennedy, DPS manager.

Kennedy said the day shift officers work with students to help them with whatever needs they can provide.

“They do what they can for the success of the students,” he said. “They are not just here for their safety.”

The officers provide more than tickets. They will help students air up tires, open cars with keys locked in them and jump dead batteries. The officers will also escort the students across campus provided the students have a legitimate reason.

Craig Richardson, in charge of the division of fire safety/environment, works the day shift.

He has been with DPS for 16 years. Before then, he was a Newton County deputy.

“I get the satisfaction knowing that we’re trying to help the students,” Richardson said.

Richardson works with anything fire-related on campus. He is certified as a class one and class two firefighter. He works alongside the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Agency.

“We try to be as environmentally friendly as we can,” he said.

Joe Howard, DPS officer, has been at Southern for 14 years.

“It’s changed a lot,” Howard said. “It’s gotten bigger.”

Howard said his main duties are similar to the duties of a police officer. He is also a retired Joplin Police Department officer.

“When you did that much work, it wears on your health,” he said.

Howard said his job has helped him lower his blood pressure and improve his health since his retirement.

He hasn’t seen much crime on the campus, but some incidents do stand out.

“One incident involved a stabbing and several guns, but that was years ago,” he said.

He said he enjoys working with the students and hopes the students realize the officers are there for them.

“We’re out there to protect them,” Howard said. “We do a lot of things for them. They see the negative parts, but there are a lot of positive parts.”

Howard said there are incidents where students do get out of hand, but they are rare.

“You can usually talk your way out of a situation,” he said.

Richardson said sometimes students do not realize the reason the officers are there.

“I think most of the problem is understanding the rules and regulations,” he said. “This is the adult world out here and we treat you as such.”

Terry Hylton, DPS office manager, takes the calls which come into the office.

“He’s the first guy you talk to on the phone,” Richardson said.

Hylton has been with Southern for 15 years and said he enjoys his work. He is a retired patrol sergeant with the JPD.

He also takes the pictures of students for their IDs and helps anyone who comes into the DPS office.

“About 99.9 and three-tenths percent of the time, they are complaining about a ticket,” Hylton said.

He said he enjoys meeting the students and gives them an appeals form for their ticket.

Kennedy said the DPS officers are also certified first responders and carry a defibrillator on the truck.

“The maturity of the officers brings with it sound judgment,” Kennedy said.

“They are willing to be calm in unsettling or stressful situations.”

He said students should be willing to call 626-2222 anytime something on campus occurs.

“When they see that truck going around, they should remember they are there for them,” Kennedy said.