Jesse Cashman arrived at St. Cloud State University almost right out of college as a part-time campus safety officer. He had been working as an investigator for the state’s Department of Corrections and wanted a second gig to supplement his income, when he suddenly lost his job with the DOC due to cutbacks. He was offered a position as a corrections officer, but that didn’t appeal to him, so he turned it down. It was the best thing that could have happened.
As he worked on his master’s degree in police administration at the University of St. Thomas, his job at St. Cloud turned into full-time employment. He went to class during the day and worked in the evenings, working his way up the ranks at St. Cloud to the very top before leaving to accept a position at another institution as director of safety and security. He was in that role for eight years.
Meanwhile, he finished his master’s degree and began teaching sociology and law enforcement. After moving yet again to another college, where he served as the director of public safety and risk management, St. Cloud began calling to him again. Last summer, he returned to the institution where he first fell in love with campus safety, this time as the assistant vice president of safety and risk management.
Having now been in several campus safety leadership positions, he knows just what it takes to succeed.
“I learned some hard lessons along the way,” he said. “One of those is that you really have to listen and gather the perspectives and concerns of your major stakeholders first and foremost.”
That’s why the minute he stepped back onto the St. Cloud campus, he set to work meeting with key stakeholders, both within and outside the campus community, to hear what they had to say.
“This is a large institution. It takes up about a third of St. Cloud. So the city has a vested interest in how successful we are and in the safety of our students,” he said.
Cashman has worked hard to cultivate relationships with local law enforcement. There’s a mutual aid agreement between that department and his unit, which he has recently worked to wring more benefit out of. For instance, he employed three officers from the local police department to work on campus and in the immediately surrounding neighborhoods. Those officers’ job is to investigate and work to prevent violent crimes.
“It’s a way for us to provide value back to the city,” he explained.
Clearly, Cashman is a big believer in collaboration. At his previous institution, he launched a security collaborative that involved a neighborhood near the campus, area businesses, the police department, a hospital and other institutions. They met each month to discuss safety topics and stay on top of what was going on both on campus and nearby in the surrounding community. He’s now emulating that model at St. Cloud.
He recently launched a citywide collaborative involving the local police department, mayor’s office, neighborhood groups and local residents, a nearby technical college, and internal stakeholders such as students and residence life. They meet monthly to discuss safety issues and big upcoming events.
Another monthly meeting that he initiated involves internal security and police officers, as well as other campus stakeholders. They discuss what’s going on at the institution and how to better serve campus constituents. In addition to ensuring everyone knows what his department does, he’s also brainstorming with administrators across campus about how his department can better help them carry out their mission and goal of educating students.
“That’s how you ensure you’re not always just reacting after things happen,” he said. “Law enforcement is so much about communication; not just about enforcing the law, but also about communicating the law, creating an understanding of it, and making sure that the people you serve understand your mission, vision and goals. You have to meet people on the positive end of things, not just on the enforcement end.”
For more information, you may contact Jesse Cashman at firstname.lastname@example.org.