State Fair Community College students will see a new face on campus at the onset of the fall semester in the form of a Pettis County Sheriff’s Office Campus Resource Deputy (CRD) who possesses all the traditional powers of law enforcement.
Pettis County Sheriff’s Deputy David Hockaday, a Sedalia native and 13-year veteran of the organization, was hired July 1 and will supervise security at SFCC when the halls begin to fill on Monday for the fall semester.
“The college had a security officer for the last three or four years,” Hockaday said. “They ended up rolling that position into this one. This position has a little more authority and some additional benefits.”
He said he enjoys working with youth and is looking forward to a “new” set of challenges after spending most of his career as a patrol deputy.
“It’s something new to learn,” he said. “I enjoy getting out and meeting the people and talking to them, trying to help them out when I can. We are talking about our area children going to this school and what better can you do than provide them a safe environment to learn in and to stop any threats that may happen while they are there.”
As SFCC has never had a licensed peace officer in the halls on a daily basis, Hockaday said he feels it is his responsibility to “lay the groundwork” and create a bond between the students and law enforcement.
“It’s going to be quite a bit different than walking into a K-12 as a resource officer because most of the younger children pretty much look up to law enforcement. In this group, you are dealing with young adults that are in the years of trial and experimentation, figuring out where they want to go in their life. You do not always have that automatic rapport, so it is going to take time to build that,” Hockaday said.
He said he wants the students to know he is not just there to write them a ticket — he is a resource for them. Someone they can talk to if they are having a problem on campus or in their lives.
“I can be a resource for them if they have a problem, if there is a situation going on, something they need to talk about,” Hockaday said. “I’ve been preparing myself to find resources on campus or in the community if it’s something that’s out of my area of expertise.”
While he is in a unique role as a CRD, Hockaday is still a licensed peace officer. He has the powers of arrest and detainment the same as any other patrol officer or deputy in the state of Missouri. He will walk the halls with a badge and a firearm and anyone breaking the law can face the filing of criminal charges by the Pettis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and an ensuing court date.
“I am a fully-functional deputy sheriff. My duty assignment is to stay at the campus unless the sheriff recalls me for whatever situation he deems necessary,” Hockaday said.
Hockaday will be equipped with a video camera on his body that records his interaction with the campus population. He said using the camera is not an attempt to gather evidence of a crime, but a precautionary protection for both him and the students.
“I don’t walk around with it on and try to catch someone doing something wrong, but if I know I’m going into a hostile situation, I will flip it on and go in. That way my actions are caught on camera, their actions are caught on camera and if it goes to the sheriff or the college for review, there is an independent witness,” Hockaday said.
Participating in a 40-hour school resource officer course was one of the prerequisites of the job. In the months to come, he plans to share the techniques he has learned with faculty and staff and take an active part in criminal justice classes at SFCC.
“The school has additional rules that I have to follow to make sure I don’t violate anybody’s rights on campus,” Hockaday said. “They also focus on additional security for school functions and things like that. They concentrate a whole day on active shooter scenarios and offer ideas to present the campus population and faculty if something liked that should happen.”