By Jacob Wolf, Chief Distribution Officer
Image Credit: Hunter Hourany for Horizons
Ron Arnold is a Shift Supervisor with ERAU Prescott’s Department of Safety and Security, known colloquially as Safety. They operate 24/7/365 to make sure the students, faculty, and staff members have a safe place to live and work. Safety Officers aren’t here as law enforcement, but to be the first responders to every variety of campus emergency, from medical calls to physical safety concerns and everything else that might occur. They’re first aid certified, conduct firearm training at the Prescott PD’s range, and have the same breaching gear as firemen.
Like every department on campus, Safety is short staffed, so Ron works 12-hour shifts. Every day he’s here, Ron walks through all the academic spaces, dorm buildings, and the flight line, saying hello and having conversations with everyone with a spare moment. His focus is on “building that relationship where you’re not a person in a uniform. You’re actually a human, they know you by name, you know the student by name.”
He drives around in one of Safety’s pickup trucks, stuffed full with all manner of equipment, from AEDs to gun shields. They’re organized in gear containers that Ron built himself – when Housing put new desks in some Mingus dorms, Ron brought some old desks home and crafted them into custom storage for each patrol truck.
Ron enjoys that he and the other Officers can take the initiative in making positive change. Whenever they need new equipment, they’re empowered to reach out to donors. Ron’s favorite technique is to reach out to company CEOs, who can be rather generous.
Ron is all-in for ERAU – last year he spent Christmas Eve and Day on duty, away from his wife. Same for Thanksgiving for other Officers and Dispatchers. He is “here for the students no matter what they need,” so he doesn’t complain about the missed holidays or long shifts. “I want to get the students home safe at night” said Ron, explaining that “there isn’t an Officer on this team that wouldn’t give their life for a student.”
Ron’s favorite time of day is 4pm, when the sports teams are practicing. He loves seeing students outside the classroom and dorm room, because it means his community is strong. He said, “It’s exciting. For me, I’m doing it for the campus. I’m doing it for the community, the people who come on our campus. Our goal is to make it a safe place for education, and to play, and for families to bring their kids on.”
Because of ERAU’s Safety Officers and Dispatchers, our campus community can count on two minute or less response to emergencies. We can attend class knowing we have folks watching our backs and thinking about our future. So the next time you see Ron or one of his fellow Officers on campus, give them a wave and hello. They’re making it happen.