Typically students only get to know Police and Safety officers when they are getting busted at a party during the weekend. Officers in Police and Safety, however, are always there making sure the students at Mercyhurst are safe.
Erie native Lt. Matthew Platz has worked in Police and Safety for eight and a half years, but this is not what he always expected he would be doing.
“I spent a good portion of life not knowing what to do,” Platz said.
In 2001, he graduated from Edinboro University with a degree in speech communication. He was working as a cook part time while he looked for work in radio or television. After answering an advertisement to become a part-time dispatcher, he joined the workforce at Mercyhurst University.
When he began working at Mercyhurst, he decided he might as well take advantage of what there was to offer by getting his master’s degree in organizational leadership.
Platz worked his way up through the ranks, with positions such as security officer, graduate assistant and corporal.
He completed Act 120 certification and officially became a police officer. In 2010, Platz accepted the position as lieutenant.
“I was already doing a good portion of the job,” said Platz. “The title now matches the responsibilities.”
In more than eight years, Platz has witnessed some incredible incidents while on duty.
“At one point I caught a streaker red-handed,” he said.
He saw a streaker running down the road at the same time the dispatcher reported it.
Platz explained that this is something they never usually catch people for, and if he had been off by a few minutes, they never would have caught the guy.
The most rewarding part of the job for Platz is helping people, even if it’s by the smallest act.
“I hope students feel safe with (Police and Safety’s) presence here,” he said.
The worst part of the job for Platz is not being well appreciated.
“It’s frustrating,” said Platz. “We’re seen as just busting parties.”
Platz stresses that he wants students to take safety precautions on campus.
“If there is ever a time you feel unsafe, you can call for an escort,” Platz said.
Students should walk in pairs, stay in view of Police and Safety’s cameras and stay in well-lit areas. If there is anything a student needs to tell Police and Safety, they can feel free to and still remain anonymous.
“We’re here for students,” Platz said.