Through their work on the University of Rhode Island campus, police officers are able to communicate with students, often with the potential to create lasting relationships.
The best part of the job has been the interactions and lasting relationships with the students, according to Officer Tom Guglielmetti. He said that he has been invited to two students weddings, one of which was a regular dinner guest of Guglielmetti and his wife when they lived across the street from the university.
“With that one student, he was taking summer courses and living in a Greek house,” Guglielmetti said. “He came over one time at like 5 o’clock, stopped by the house and we fed him. That was probably the worst thing to do because then they’re like bears: they just keep coming back. So it got to the point where we set a plate for him, not like [he came by] every night, but we’d set the plate every night. He would stop by randomly at 5 o’clock with a question or if he needed tools for his car. But it was always like at dinner time, so we fed him for most of the summer.”
Living in that neighborhood, Guglielmetti said that the university felt like a second home for him and his family. They went to the same stores and saw many students often. Guglielmetti said that all three of his children, two sons and one daughter, graduated from URI.
“It provided a lot of opportunities for my children too,” Guglielmetti said. “I mean my son was a basketball boy, and he’s really close with the assistant athletic director. And the cheerleaders here worked with my daughters, helping them with cheerleading.”
Guglielmetti went to the academy for the university in September of 1980 and started working as an officer that November. He said that he chose to work for a campus police department because he thought it would be challenging.
“I was 20 too so it’s the first place that hired me,” Guglielmetti said. “I think you can relate to the kids a lot more, you know [because] you are one. You were more tolerable of maybe some of their actions as opposed to I am now.”
Originally from Warwick, Rhode Island, Guglielmetti went to Bryant University for one semester, and majored in law enforcement. He said that he enjoyed taking courses and continued to expand his education at URI. His coursework included psychology, sociology and business.
“I never graduated, but it was a lot of fun being in class with the kids because they all knew what I did,” Guglielmetti said. “There was a lot of interaction. It’s good to humanize the police too, not to make us something you [just] look at but that you actually know.”
His favorite part of the courses was this interaction, since there was a lot of group work in the subjects he chose. Guglielmetti remembered that in some of his economics classes, he was tutored by some of the students.
“These guys were actually members of the Greek system [who] were getting their master’s in business, so they were very good tutors,” Guglielmetti said. “Economics has these weird multipliers. And once you got it you got it, but it was just getting over that hump. And these guys were really patient.”
Guglielmetti said that very few of the students were wary of him in the classroom because the officers were in the community more during the ‘80s and ‘90s, “so you knew a lot of the kids.” He said that he feels the university is on their way back to being a close-knit community, attributing this positive trend to the officers the university has recently hired.
However, he emphasized that it is also important to maintain a very professional relationship with students so they feel confident that the department is capable. The combination of this professionalism and the comfort level provided by the department’s familiarity can be very helpful for students, according to Guglielmetti.
“I’ve had girls [students] that actually have had problems in other cities come to me and ask me what they should do and who they should talk to,” Guglielmetti said. “Because they know that if it’s a real, serious problem that I would be able to put them in contact with somebody from either Narragansett or North Kingstown that’s capable.”