As campus police officers, it is important to be invested not only in the day-to-day work but in the surrounding community as well. One police officer at the University of Rhode Island is an embodiment of this investment, both on and off the clock.
Mark Brasil, a police detective for the university, began working as a university police officer in 2002. He chose to work at URI because he liked the diversity that was on campus.
“It was just a mix of everybody and everything,” Brasil said. “It’s really just a melting pot and it’s very interesting to work here. There’s a lot going on.”
Being a cop is more than just arresting people and giving out tickets, according to Brasil. He said that one aspect of the job that he really takes value in is helping victims of crimes. But some computer crimes tend to be operations involving another country, and there isn’t much that can be done.
“There’s nothing worse than having a victim of a crime and you can’t get the bad guy,” Brasil said. “That’s one of the worst feelings. But the best thing we can do at that point is allow everyone to know what we know of the information.”
Since he started working for the university 14 years ago, Brasil has not limited himself to only serving the university. Growing up, he said he had wanted to join the military. So Brasil spent four years in active duty in the Air Force working as security forces, which he described as the “air force version of police and security.” After leaving the Air Force, Brasil joined the Army. During that time he worked both at URI as a patrolman and for the Army National Guard, except from 2007 to 2008 when he was deployed to Iraq.
In February of 2012, Brasil became a police detective for URI. He said that he applied for the job because of his experience, training, schooling and background in investigating. As a detective, Brasil investigates various crimes, from sexual assault to computer crimes and computer fraud. As the only detective in the department, Brasil said he often has a very hectic schedule.
“I know we are looking at getting more officers and hopefully another detective or two, but sometimes it gets overwhelming and you have to prioritize people’s cases,” he said. “And when you have something like sexual assault or a stolen laptop, well the stolen laptop may not get the attention that victim wants, and I do feel bad about that, but sometimes there are other cases that do take precedence. It’s challenging at times, but I certainly try to do my best to help everybody and bring the right people to justice.”
Brasil said he wants to make sure that students know that the members of the police department are approachable.
“We genuinely want to help and we want to protect our community,” he said. “You’re talking about individuals that are predestined that if there is danger, when everybody else is running away, we’re running to it to stop the threat or to protect individuals at possibly their own peril.”
The university’s police department has always been into community policing and wanting to help the students, according to Brasil, whether it is be by just doing their jobs or participating in community events such as toy drives.
Though the community-policing aspect has always been one of Brasil’s favorite parts of working for URI, the one thing that has been near and dear to his heart has been helping out with the Special Olympics.
“I love working with special needs children and helping out,” he said. “ I did that in the military as well. When I found out [the] Special Olympics was held here I couldn’t wait to help out.”
Brasil said that he has helped out before by handing out medals, doing the torch run and forming a team of URI police to participate in the Polar Plunge on March 20. He is currently collecting donations for the cause at: firstgiving.com/fundraiser/mark-brasil-1/torch-run-plunge.