To protect and serve: SMU PD's Jimmy Winn
Published: Thursday, November 30, 2006
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
On a cool November evening, SMU Police officer Jimmy Winn was not bombarded with radio calls for emergency assistance. He didn't make any drug busts, pull anyone over for drunk driving, or arrest anyone for streaking across the quad. He did give directions to a student looking for Meadows.
"When we are not busy it's a good thing. The less [crime reports] you see in The DC the better," said Winn.
While crime is relatively low in the Park Cities, Winn urges SMU students to remember, "There is no utopia, no glass fence around SMU. You are still in Dallas, even though you are in Highland Park."
While SMU is a safe campus, it does have its problems.
"Drugs are everywhere," said Winn. "We are very strict on drug policy."
Winn said SMU PD dealt with several drug problems this year harshly.
"There is no leeway when it comes to stuff like that. [It's] not a situation where [SMU PD] can be flexible," said Winn.
Along with drug usage, there have also been reports of sexual assaults this year.
Winn said there's not a definite answer to whether a student should walk around alone on campus.
"If you say yes it just takes one person to get violated to say no," said Winn. "Don't ever feel that you can't call Giddy-Up or an escort if you feel unsafe. There's not one minute or second that a police officer is not on campus," he said.
Although Winn has been a law enforcement officer for 17 years, he has only been at SMU for five.
Long before SMU, Winn was deciding between becoming a car mechanic or going into law enforcement. Winn said he "gets bored easily," so after going through a rigorous training program and much testing, he became an officer.
Winn said when he first began working, he realized it's nothing like the classroom setting.
He worked in Farmersville for eight years as a patrol sergeant, during the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift.
Winn encountered a lot during the past 17 years, including drunken driving, car chases, severe collisions, burglary and domestic violence.
Winn said,"90 percent of all fatalities [I've] seen have involved alcohol."
While he was in Farmersville, Winn served as an "accident reconstructionist." When there was an accident he took measurements at the crime scene and ensured officers properly handled the evidence.
Winn recalled an incident where a truck driver hauling rocks crossed a railroad track as a train was coming. Winn arrived at the scene and took responsibility for preserving and processing the evidence.
Burglary is another issue Winn dealt with as a patrol officer.
"Catching someone in the act of burglary is rare," said Winn.
Domestic violence is another issue officers deal with. In a domestic violence situation, Winn said, as an officer "you have to restore order."
In one case Winn recalled, "A girl [had been] beat to a bloody pulp. [We had to] find the perpetrator and take action and arrest."
However, according to Winn, the girl didn't want to file any charges against her boyfriend. When this occurs, Winn says it's the officer's responsibility to file a charge in the name of the state.
Winn can empathize with many SMU students who have received tickets.
"Hey, I've been there, I've done that. I know how they feel when I write a ticket. [It's just a] fact of life. Move on," he said.
After policing in Farmersville, Winn transferred to Richland College. "When you become an officer, you are out there patrolling, trying to catch burglars and thieves and you have a different outlook on what you want to do in law enforcement. [I decided] wanted to get to people on a proactive level before they did wrong," he said.
In 2001, Winn Left Richland and came to SMU.
According to Winn, during the past five years there's been a change within the structure of the SMU Police Department, but only for the better.
In the past, Winn's department "wasn't doing a lot of community policing, [like] educating students. [It's] better to educate and be proactive than reactive before someone breaks a law and goes beyond the threshold."
Currently, Winn is developing a program here at SMU called the Community Police Academy. It's designed for both students and faculty to attend.
Once a week, Winn hopes that the PD can inform the public about what the department does.
According to Winn, people touch things, effectively tampering with evidence after their cars have been broken into. By educating them beforehand, he says, such incidents can be avoided.
Winn also says the spate of television shows and movies about law enformcement aren't the real deal.
"That's not the real world," said Winn. "It's not like 'COPS.' Who's going to be watching a 'C.S.I.' where a person is typing a report? That's not good TV," said Winn.
Winn believes both the community and the police need to interact more smoothly. According to Winn,many people are intimidated by police, but, "We all bleed red and put on our pants one leg at a time."
Winn wants SMU students to be more proactive and participate in programs like his. "More people will have a positive experience" this way, he says.
Winn believes students view the SMU PD positively. He "feels the majority that have asked for help, [view the PD in] a positive light." Winn says that often people who view the SMU PD in a negative light are those who get caught.
One student's opinion exemplifies Winn's belief.
"SMU PD is so helpful to me as an RA... they're really great people who have everyone's wellbeing at heart. I think they're some of the unsung heroes on our campus," said sophomore Rachel Gambulos.
Another sophomore, Dedman I Student Senator Jonathan Lane, views the SMU PD much differently.
"SMU's security resources are better spent protecting students from crimes ... rather than wasting time and the University's money patrolling the streets looking to enforce alcohol policy and 'protecting students from themselves.' Several of my friends have had their cars broken into in lighted parking lots, and almost every single incident of theft or vandalism to a car, that I know of, has occurred on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, which I think demonstrates where the priorities of the SMU Police Department really stand," said Lane.
Although clearly SMU students have differing opinions, Winn's said, "it's better to be proactive and reach out before [a crime] happens."