On a campus where opinion varies drastically on the topic of security, ORU Director of Security Gerald Isaacs has developed an attitude of loving sternness toward those he has been tasked with protecting.
“I look at it like my kids, because my kids went to school here. If we keep them safe and give them an opportunity to grow, then we are successful,” Isaacs said.
Isaacs served as a Tulsa Police Officer for 27 years.
Campus security works hard to ensure safety, but Isaacs acknowledges they are not always perfect.
“We make mistakes,” Isaacs said. “Don’t think of all of us because of one bad situation. Because that’s the same guy that may be out here, you know, saving your life tomorrow.”
For Isaacs and his staff of 43, duty to the students runs deeper than a title.
As a patrol sergeant in the Tulsa Police Department, Isaacs worked the graveyard shift in the surrounding area.
The amiable professional relationship he developed with ORU during that time led to an invitation to come on as director of security. Isaacs attained the rank of Supervising Detective and was looking for a change of pace.
“I retired on Friday and came to work here on Monday,” Isaacs said.
That was 11 years ago. The role he now plays heading campus security is very different.
“As a police officer, our objective in the field is to catch the bad guy. Basically, find somebody who is doing something wrong, and prevent it or stop it. Here, it is all prevention,” said Isaacs. “I’m not here to see if I can catch you doing something wrong. That’s not my role at all. My role is to make sure you’re safe.”
In an average week, the security department may see eight to 10 calls from students. Isaacs said those calls result in three to four visits by local emergency services. Campus intruders, like the protesters on campus a several weeks ago, are another routine problem faced by the security force.
Despite these situations, parking is the most familiar issue security deals with.
“Every day we have five to eight thousand people in and around campus. If there is an event in the Mabee Center, we have 10,000 or more,” Isaacs said. “Most of the conflict we actually have involving us and students has got to do with parking.”
There are 11 parking lots on the ORU campus. The majority of the residential student body parks in the Upper, or H Lot. Those with special passes may park in the Lower, or G Lot. Commuters park in the Commuter, or E Lot.
No students can park in the Executive, or K Lot, on the Northeastern side of the Graduate Center. These spots are reserved for executive level and tenured faculty.
Isaacs says problems come when students park in places they should not.
“[Faculty and staff] wouldn’t be able to come to work and park our cars to protect you or whatever services we provide,” Isaacs said. “Sometimes we have to say ‘no.’”
Despite the day-to-day conflicts, Isaacs is positive about the relationship between security and students.
“I was up at the cafeteria today, and I probably had 20 students that just stopped by and said, ‘Hi’,” Isaacs said. “I hope they feel all of my people are approachable.”