Students, skunks and squirrels

A Castleton student laughs with Public Safety employee Jess
Cameron. Although officers often deal with serious matters, some
days the calls can be quite comical.

When a Castleton University Public Safety officer receives a call, it is answered with fearful anticipation, because they know that on the other end of that phone could be a student who needs their help.

One of the officers answering the phone is Bradley Adair, who has worked at Castleton for over 13 years, first as a student, before then making the transition to full-time officer after he graduated.

According to Adair, there are several common calls that students make on a weekly basis to Public Safety.

“One of the most common calls we receive is the ‘my-car-was-stolen’ call,” he said. “Usually this comes from a frantic student saying that their car was not where they left it. After taking time to calm the students down, I would ask questions like ‘do you remember lending your car to any of your friends? Or did someone drive you home last night?’ In almost all cases, the students would swear that the car has just vanished from campus. I would then have them ride in the Public Safety vehicle. Then we drive carefully through each lot. In all of these cases, the car has been found.”

For student officer Samm Quiser, this kind of call is practically routine, however, on one occasion a few years ago, Quiser received a much stranger, car-related call from an off-campus student.

“She called us because she had locked her key in her car,” said Quiser with a slight smile. “So we went down there and were trying to figure out … ‘ok so you’re not a resident, so we need some way to establish that this is in fact your car.’ And so she’s looking around the car trying to find anything like pictures of her with her car, anything that can possibly link her to the car. Finally, we just said, well the vin number is visible, what about your insurance?’ So she called her insurance and we found out that she needed to update her insurance information. Thankfully enough things matched up that we were able to verify, and you know, help her out.”

While the parking lot call is common, according to Adair there is one call that is far more recurring. The “I’ve-locked-myself-out-of-my-room” call, which many Castleton students should be familiar with. A student locks their keys in their room and then calls Public Safety to have them come unlock their door for them.

Officer Des Desautels, a relatively new addition to Public Safety, recalls a case where a student had been locked out on the balcony of their fourth-floor suite. According to Desautels, the student was fine and passed the time dancing and singing until facilities was able to come to the rescue.

This is not the weirdest call Desautels has received in his short time at Castleton, however.

“This was last December. I had been working here for only a month,” Desautels said his face breaking into a smile. “In one of the suites for whatever reason, somebody was trying to dry-freeze a squirrel tail in the community kitchen. I get called down and it was all wrapped up in newspaper and all sorts of cute stuff, and I was like yeah, no, that probably should not be in there that’s definitely not – safe.”

“In one of the suites for whatever reason, somebody was trying to dry-freeze a squirrel tail…”

-Des Desautels

Desautels begins chuckling

“Of course then the problem became what to do with this thing, and you know, trying to figure out who it belonged to,” he said.

While the owner of the squirrel tail was eventually found, according to Desautels this wasn’t the first time Public Safety officer had tackled an animal-related incident.

“I was working nights and at about 2 a.m. Sunday morning we had a report that a skunk was IN Adams Hall,” Adair said. “I made my way there, entered the front door and the students who had called were on the far end of the hall. They signaled me that the skunk was in a pile of garbage near the recycling bin just to my right. I had the students step back and close any doors in the hallway that they could. I then found a discarded box which was folded flat then slowly removed bags of trash until I could see the skunk. This one was clearly agitated and would throw up his tail at each movement I made. I would have to play this stop-and-go game with it as it would move away from me, then I moved closer, its tail would rise, then I would stop. Using the box which I kept between myself and the skunk, I guided the skunk into the front door area. I was able to shut the door in the hall, then run outside through the back door and open the front door for the skunk. It reluctantly left the building all the time keeping an eye and tail trained on me as it left.”

While many of these events might seem silly, it is important to remember that whenever a call goes out to Public Safety, these are the calls they are hoping to get.

Lending a helping hand to student in need doesn’t require heavy hearts or strong stomachs

“I think a lot of the students also forget,” said Adair with a solemn look crossing his normally cheerful face, “our main purpose is like customer service, we are here to help out the students as much as we can and that unfortunately means enforcing the rules, but that’s mainly, you know, for students well-being.”


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