Drexel’s Department of Public Safety Celebrates Employees of the Year

Public Safety Awards 2018

It can be intimidating to walk into a room of 100-plus dark-suited figures —as was the case at the Study Hotel earlier this month for the 2018 Drexel University Public Safety Induction and Commendation Ceremony — until one realizes the men and women gathered are the crème de la crème of Drexel University’s public safety force.

Drexel’s police, fire and security services average about 6,000 calls a month for service. Along with their presence at University events, personnel from the Public Safety Department serve the greater Philadelphia community at other notable events like the Philadelphia Eagles Superbowl Championship parade and the annual Wawa Welcome America! Festival on the Fourth of July. Personnel also take part in a number of community outreach efforts throughout the year.

“It’s so nice to build trust in our community,” said Eileen Behr, Drexel’s vice president of public safety.

Amongst a number of commendations given at the ceremony including recognitions of promotion and merit and the swearing in of new officers and dispatchers, three employees were recognized as employees of the year in their respective roles: police officer, telecommunicator and professional staff member. These recipients were nominated and selected by their peers within the department.

“There is no higher honor than to be recognized by the very people you work with each day,” Behr said. “Each of the recipients are dedicated to their professions and to Drexel. Each one contributes to the department in very different ways that are equally important. I am proud of their accomplishments.”

The three employees of the year answered a few questions for DrexelNow about what it’s like to keep Drexel safe and receive this commendation for their service.

Officer Alexis Nagel, Police Officer of the Year

How did it feel to receive this award?

I felt honored to receive this award. It is a huge accomplishment to receive the Police Officer of the Year Award especially for a rookie police officer like myself who only has 16 months on the job.

What do you think are the key qualities that make someone a good police officer, especially in a university setting like at Drexel?

In my opinion, I think an individual needs to be compassionate. Most students here have never been away from home nor have they lived out on their own, so officers need to be aware of that and show compassion when something that may be minor to us is a big deal to the person who is experiencing the situation. The officer also needs to be flexible. They need to be able to adapt to different situations because in this profession not everything is as it appears.

What was the craziest or most memorable incident that happened while you were on duty? How did you handle it?

I received a radio call for a theft in progress. An individual was going through multiple bags in the basketball court area in the REC Center. I arrived on scene and spotted an individual matching the flash description. The person was positively identified as the actor and I was able to place the individual under arrest for theft. At the time we had been receiving numerous reports of thefts from the REC Center, but we were never able to identify the person responsible for them. When I searched the individual, I recovered items that had been previously reported as stolen from the REC Center. It felt good that I was able to apprehend the individual who had violated the students’ feeling of security on campus and return their items to them.

Attia Wright, Dispatch Supervisor, Telecommunicator of the Year

How did it feel to receive this award?

To receive this award was a humbling experience. I am honored that my colleagues have thought of me in this way.  Also, I am appreciative that Drexel University Public Safety recognizes its employees for their efforts.

What are the key qualities that you think make someone a good dispatcher?

Having a strong desire to serve the community and wanting to provide the best customer service possible are qualities that a good dispatcher should have. Also, being able to effectively multi-task, having good communication skills and being empathetic — these are qualities a good dispatcher should possess as well.

What was the craziest, or most memorable call you received in the last year?

The most memorable call that I can remember receiving in the last year came from a disgruntled caller. Even when someone is not being very kind to you, it's a dispatcher's responsibility to remain composed and provide the same respect and professionalism as you would any other customer.

Erik Levitsky, Operations Technician, Professional Staff Member of the Year

How did it feel to receive this award?

I felt very good about receiving this. I’ve been at Drexel for roughly seven years and this was my first award, so it was a long time coming. I am glad that Drexel recognizes employees for their work, however, I feel that people in IT positions such as myself often get overlooked, as we tend to work under the radar most of the time. 

How would you describe your role with the Public Safety Department? What do you think is the key quality that makes someone successful in a role like this?

I describe my role as an integral piece of the department’s technological backbone. The small operations team that I am a part of manages and maintains all forms of technology related to Public Safety. This includes IT systems administration, fire alarm monitoring, CCTV, card access control, emergency call boxes, email/text based alert systems, police vehicle mobile data terminals, police radio systems and 24/7 tech support for our communications center. I think the key quality, at least for myself, is being able to multi-task. We maintain many different systems, so the ability to switch gears between all of them at any given time is an absolute necessity. 

What is the most memorable thing that happened for you professionally in the last year?

The most memorable thing that happened to me actually lasted the duration of the entire year. My director and I both took on additional responsibilities when one of our team members moved on from his position in February 2017, and the position was not filled until February 2018. We both worked very long hours and tried our absolute best to handle the extra tasks — and while it wasn’t exactly a fun experience, we both learned a lot from it and got to know each other on a more personal level.