Chief Tommy Grant
Navarro County Texas


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1/18/2003 Guarding Navarro: Security officers befriend, protect students

By MICAH CHAPLIN/Daily Sun Staff


Chief Tommy Grant leads a staff of five Navarro College Security officers. The campus force works to ensure the safety and well-being of the students. Daily Sun photo/KIRK SIDES

Troublemakers at Navarro College, watch out. Chief Tommy Grant and his excellent staff are on their toes and on patrol 24-seven, to ensure the safety and well being of Navarro students.

"We all enjoy our jobs and enjoy working with the kids," Grant said. "They might be young adults by age, but they'll always be kids to me."

Grant started on the Navarro Security force part-time in 1982. He worked with Dave Garrett then, though Grant was not thrilled about peace officer work.

"I thought I was through with being a peace officer, and thought it'd be more like a night watch type of thing," Grant said. "But we are a police agency and work closely with the Corsicana Police Department and the Navarro County Sheriff's Office."

The Navarro College security staff handles most of their own cases, but if something such as a murder or serial rapist case came up, they would ask the CPD for help.

"They have a lot more expertise and lab equipment than we have here," Grant said. "But so far, we haven't had any case that we didn't have a hand in handling."

When he first started, Grant took on much of the night duty. These days, however, his primary function is paperwork and administration duties during the daylight hours.

"I don't like paperwork," Grant said. "I miss the nights and working with all the kids."

As the student population at Navarro continues to grow, so has the security force. When he first started, Grant says there were only two full-time officers. Today, there are five, plus one part-time officer each at Waxahachie and Mexia. Each comes from a different background of experience, which enriches the knowledge and persona of the squad.

Five full-time officers enable constant surveillance on the Corsicana campus. On "busy nights," there are two officers on duty.

"Monday through Thursday are typically our busiest nights," Grant said. "Fridays, most people are packing up to go home, and on Saturdays, there's usually no one around."

Grant is pushing to have two during busy hours on Sunday as well, since that is the day most students are returning from the weekend.

There is more to the job than simply patrolling, however. The Navarro College Security officers also handle IDs, parking permits, unlocking doors and presenting safety programs in the residence halls.

"Our job is more service oriented than money driven," Grant said. "There is no monetary gain for them to gain through citations. We are here because we want to help."

In the residence halls, Grant and his staff deliver information on personal safety and taking care of their vehicles. They work closely with Director of Residence Life Charles Betts, who has been with the college for six years. Grant said his job and that of his staff would be much harder if not for the help of Betts and his assistants.

"We have an excellent residence life staff," Grant said. "Charles has been here for six years, and he's doing a great job. He always has residence life staff on duty to check the dorms. That helps us out a lot."

Throughout his time at Navarro, Grant has established a rapport, not only with faculty and staff, but also with the students.

"I've always been impressed with Chief Grant's ability to befriend the student population," Director of Market Relations and Public Information Susan Johnson said. "From that, I think he has a lot of respect from the students."

Indeed, Grant says he has developed a bond with the student body, and ensures them he has their best interests at heart.

"I know what they're going through, I was 19 once. They're bound to go a little wild, I'm just there to keep them out of trouble," Grant said. "We really have a good group to begin with though. I always tell [CPD Chief G.M. Cox], I'd put 400 of mine up against 400 of his and I'd still come out with the best group. They're all here to get a higher education, so that tells you what kind of people they are."

Many students even have a nickname for Grant.

"Years ago, students would come by and see me watching cars as I ate my cheese and crackers," he said. "They would ask why I was always watching them. I told them that I wasn't, that I was just eating my supper, my rat cheese and crackers. The name rat cheese stuck."

The name does not bother Rat Cheese, or Mr. Cheese, to some.

"It's never bothered me. At least they feel comfortable with me," he said.

Grant has a thick stack of business cards which hands out to students, staff, faculty and even parents. The card contains contact information for Grant's office, mobile phone and even home.

"I don't mind if they call me at home," he said. "I always want to be available to help."

xxx

Micah Chaplin may be contacted via e-mail at mchaplin@corsicanadailysun.com


Reprinted with permission of the Corsicana Daily Sun
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