University Police Lieutenant Michael Donohue has worked for the University of Rhode Island for the past 27 years, but he has spent his whole life working for different areas of emergency personnel.
At 18, Donohue began as a volunteer firefighter in Peace Dale, Rhode Island, and worked for different departments around the state as a volunteer firefighter as well. While he was volunteering, Donohue also worked as a repairman for an appliance company. The captain of his fire department worked at the same appliance company, and Donohue said whenever they heard sirens their boss would let them leave work to go offer help.
In 1984, Donohue joined the Navy, where he worked as a storekeeper for four-and-a-half years. When he left the Navy, Donohue got a job in the same area working for a warehouse as a shipping and receiving supervisor. Not too long after that he applied to work at URI as a police officer. At the same time that URI was hiring, the Adult Correctional Institution was hiring as well. Though Donohue would have made more money at the ACI, he said he did not want to be locked up with everyone there all the time.
“It’s a tough job,” Donohue said, referring to working for the ACI. After applying to work for URI, Donohue picked up a few weeks at Cumberland Farms because it was “tough” getting in.
“They told me they would hire me, then call me and say they were going to wait a couple weeks,” he said. Soon after, Donohue became a police trainee with the university. He attended the police academy and went on ride alongs to learn the ins and the outs of the university.
“I really didn’t know what I was getting into when I first started,” Donohue said. “I didn’t go to college. So I really didn’t know what the college environment was.” He added that he did obtain his Bachelors in 2005. Donohue said that not too long after working here he became part of the community of the school.
He also spent time still volunteering as a firefighter. He said there would be days where he would get off third shift working for URI and go drive fire trucks, both to relieve stress and because he enjoys it.
“I’ve always been involved in wanting to help people,” Donohue said, adding that he was an EMT for a while, though he soon realized that wasn’t for him. “I’d rather cut you out of the car as a fireman than bandage you up [as an EMT] and deal with blood and splinting. That wasn’t me and I found that out quick.”
Donohue said he has worked for URI for 27 years and has spent the past 23 years as lieutenant. He has many jobs as lieutenant, including acting as an accreditation manager, training officer coordinator, range officer, domestic violence and sexual assault instructor for the state, crisis responder trainer and being a part of the behavioral intervention team. Â Donohue is also an armorer, meaning he has extensive training on firearms that goes beyond just the cleaning; he inspects firearms monthly, replaces broken pieces and is able to break down the gun and put it back together.
He said how he loves the university environment and working with the students on campus. Donohue said that he wants to have more hands on experiences with students, which is why he is currently enrolled in Graduate School here at URI. He is studying college student personnel, and said when he graduates in “hopefully” 3 years he can retire as lieutenant and go work with student affairs.
“I always wanted to help,” Donohue said. “I’m a helping kind of person.”