Story by John Infranco
Each day students, professors, staff members and Point Loma locals drive past PLNU’s guard shack and think nothing of it. Considering that the beautiful campus lays ahead, passers by often disregard the individual working inside the guardhouse. Senior Staff Officer of Public Safety Richard Duarte is one of those individuals who is always seen around campus but who the community knows little about.
The Point Weekly spoke with Duarte to talk about his life, his journey, and how the seven years he has spent working at PLNU have been.
The Point Weekly: So tell me about what you do in Public Safety.
Richard Duarte: Well, I’m one of two senior staff officers. My primary responsibility is to do staff training. So I create different types of training scenarios that help the staff to better do their jobs. My secondary duty is to be visible. This basically means that we want people to feel safe knowing that public safety is here, we care, and we want the students (or anyone on campus) to have a sense of safety.
PW: What do you train the staff to do?
RD: It could be report writing, responding to medical emergencies, suspicious activity, vehicle patrol, foot patrol, encountering volatile people, building lock-ups, giving escorts, or even dealing with drug and alcohol incidents. Day to day stuff, whatever it is.
PW: What brought you to PLNU ?
RD: Before I worked here, I served in the United States Navy for eight years. I served on a ship (S.S. Dubuque) for three and a half years. After that I was stationed at North Island for about four and a half years. Just before I got out, I did shore patrol as well as building security for the barracks and officer quarters. I was also on a special response team who would run drills for simulated terrorist attacks and we would have to try to recognize when someone was trying to breach the security of the fence line.
PW: So what happened after the Navy?
RD: After the Navy, I went to work for the federal bureau of prisons. After working in different prisons in Texas and Oklahoma, I went to work for a prison in Long Beach. But after that, I transferred to a private Corrections Company in San Diego at the County prison. We dealt a good deal with inmates waiting for their trial regarding their deportation. I was there for five years, and after that I worked for a general defense contractor. Since they had contacts with all four branches of the military, you had to have secret clearance to work there.
PW: That’s quite the work history. I see from that how you got into security but how did you manage to go from government security to working at a private Nazarene college?
RD: Well, I knew personally that the Lord wanted me to move into a different job, a different location, doing something, well, different. At the time, I had no idea what it was. I started to put out my resume and I originally thought I would be working for the San Diego school district. Of all the places I applied to, I was picked up by Point Loma first, but even after I accepted the job here, I had over 30 offers from schools in the district that were interested in hiring me.
PW: With all those job offers how did you know that this was the one you wanted?
RD: It was clear to me when I was going through the interview process here that it was right. You know that feeling when you go into somewhere, and you just know this is the place for you? It was like that. There was this strange calmness, instead of the usual anxiety or nervousness that comes with a job interview, because the Lord made it clear to me that I had to be here.
PW: And what are your thoughts about the job seven years later?
RD: This is the best job I’ve ever worked at. I’m thankful that I can work in an environment where I can carry out my ministry while working with the students (which is by far my favorite part of the job). I couldn’t ask for a better place to work.