ROCK ISLAND -- Helping is the part he likes.|
Mark Beckwith, 51, of Moline, began his public safety career as an emergency medical technician, then spent 28 years with the Milan Police Department, working his way up to chief. Now, he is assistant chief of public safety at Augustana College.
Helping someone with a problem is a high point of public safety, Mr. Beckwith said. "You are there in the time of need."
He admits that working in public safety at Augustana is a bit different from riding an ambulance or walking a beat. The officers have things they have to handle, but the things are different than those handled in broader law enforcement.
It's also a little more "9 to 5," he said, adding that shifts as a police or fire first responder often are dictated by events rather than set hours.
Law enforcement is a front-row seat to life, he said; sometimes it can be quiet and other times it's gut wrenching. "No two days were the same."
At Augustana, his tasks as assistant chief include investigations as needed, but also handling parking ticket appeals and working on the college's emergency plan, designed to give the campus guidelines for major storms and other events that could affect operations.
He also works with several students who help the Public Safety Office.
Working with them is fulfilling and they will some day step into leadership roles, he said. "You get a lot of energy from students," Mr. Beckwith said.
The Augustana community is an inviting one, with hundreds of employees and thousands of students, all friendly.
"The environment here, the people you work with here, it's awesome."
When Mr. Beckwith retired from the Milan Police Department, he said he took a weekend off, then went right to work for the college. Friday, retire. Saturday through Sunday, retired. Monday, Augustana.
He does have hobbies -- golfing, antiquing -- but much of his off time is devoted to his family. "To me, family is everything," he said.
True retirement could happen, but he has not set a schedule for it.
"I will eventually. I just haven't found that part of my life to do that."