Not every campus police officer at the University of Rhode Island always had their sights set on law enforcement, but one made his decision after retirement.
Officer Paul Hanrahan’s first career was in the military, starting when he joined the air force right after he graduated from North Kingstown High School. He served in the air force for 21 years until his retirement 10 years ago, and he said he does not regret this early choice.
“I wanted to see the world,” Hanrahan said. “I went to every state in the United States and traveled all over Europe [and] Southeast Asia. I had a very good time; if I had to do it all over again I’d do it over again in a minute.”
While in the air force, Hanrahan generally flew in a C-130, a military plane, where he handled and transported hazardous cargo. He said that he enjoyed his time in the military for similar reasons as to why he enjoys his post-retirement job as a campus police officer.
“I’m a people person,” Hanrahan said. “I like working with people. The military helped me with that; I got to work with a very diverse community all around the world.”
After the tragedies of 9/11, Hanrahan and other members of the air force were asked to be the Transport Security Administration (TSA). They were asked to be the TSA for the nation’s airports until they were able to get the agency “up and running,” according to Hanrahan. Hanrahan said he worked in airports all over the country for almost two years.
“You got to deal with large crowds, a lot of public relations stuff which I think has helped me [here],” Hanrahan said. “Major Jagoda and [Public Safety] Director Stephen Baker appointed me as the liaison for community policing.” He explained how community policing began in August, and the department has already ran successful events including the dodgeball tournament and the cornhole tournament. Â
Hanrahan decided to work for the university’s campus police after his retirement because it continued the parts of the military that he liked and added new elements, such as interaction with students.
“I like working with kids and I liked the police aspect of the military, and I thought that my public relations and working with a diverse community would work well with a university,” Hanrahan said. “And I love the community policing part of it, and I’ve had great feedback from the students and parents.”
As a father of teenagers, Hanrahan said that he tries to incorporate some of the things he sees his own children interested in into his job. He has one son who is a sophomore at URI, and one of his daughters is a senior in high school who plans on attending the university as well.
“It’s good for me because I can keep an eye on him,” Hanrahan said. “It’s bad for him, I think he’s afraid to do anything. Sometimes he acknowledges me, other times he does not. [But] we have lunch together, he’s a good kid. I like it because as you grow older, in their college years, you seem to separate from your children or from your parents. So it’s a good way that I can still have him with me.”
His wife went to URI as well, but Hanrahan himself got his degree (in law enforcement) from CCRI after retiring from the Air Force. He attended his courses while working as a campus police officer, which he said forced him to work the the third shift from midnight to 8 a.m. Hanrahan said that he worked the third shift for 10 years before transferring to first shift, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., this past summer. This change was motivated by the need to be more involved with students and bringing the community closer together, and he said that he has already seen a change.
“I wanted to work with the entire university when everyone’s here, when the kids are awake- the majority of them,” Hanrahan said. “I’ve made friends with a lot of the students, they know me by name, they feel free to come up and talk to me now.”
Hanrahan emphasized that his main goal is continuing to improve student relations through community policing. He said that this starts with more interactive approaches to policing, such as the already implemented bike squads and the segway which Hanrahan himself rode on First Night.
“They should look for some of our upcoming events, it’s a great way to get involved in the community policing aspect for both of us [students and police] and make it a better and safer campus,” Hanrahan said. For more information on police-run events for students follow the @URIPolice Twitter account.