While he has only been a part of the police force since May, Officer John Bush has been a part of the University of Rhode Island community since he was a student here in the late ‘90s.
Bush graduated from URI in 2002, where he played on the football team from ’95 to ‘99. According to a press release from URI, Bush was named the team’s ‘Most Outstanding Lineman’ in both ‘97 and ‘98.
It wasn’t until he was asked to help out with a cornhole tournament that Bush got his opportunity to apply for an officer position for the campus police. Bush and a friend make custom cornhole boards, so the department asked if he would make one for the tournament.
“It’s my alma matter, I was happy to do it,” he said. While at the tournament, he talked with Major Jagoda and Patrolman Paul Hanrahan about what they were planning for the police force on campus. “I loved what they were saying. Major Jagoda had said they had some spots open, so I put my application in,” Bush added.
Bush’s return to URI came with an already extensive background in policing. After graduating from the university, he worked for a year and a half for a small town sheriff’s department in Pennsylvania while on the waiting list to become a state trooper. Following this, Bush decided to move South Carolina where he became a beach patrol officer for Myrtle Beach. Bush explained that he would get calls 15 to 20 times a night while working there.
Three years ago, Bush returned to Rhode Island in order to be closer to friends and family. He worked for Curtis Corner Middle School as a supervisory aide and helped with the students. While preparing a new worker for the job at the school, he realized he wanted to go back to being a police officer.
“It’s home,” Bush said in reference to his return to URI. He said he remembers what it’s like to make the walk up the hill to classes everyday, which he now calls the zombie walk.
“All you see now are the students slowly walking up with their heads down looking at their phones,” Bush said. That’s one of the main differences he said that he’s seen here. He added how he also saw differences in Barlow Hall, where he lived his freshman year and where there is now police substation. He said he sometimes takes walks down to his old room to see what is the same and what has changed.
While Bush is still taking classes at the Police Academy to become fully acquainted with Rhode Island laws, students can still see him patrolling around campus, especially on bike, which is something he enjoys. He said that he is one of those officers that will go up to students and start conversations just to see how they are.
“We aren’t here to get you in trouble,” Bush said. “We want to help.”
In November, Bush will complete the Police Academy and be able to perform the full duties of an officer. But he will still be around, happy to help students where he can at a place he still calls home.