Officer Kendall Freeman pulls over and gets out of his car. He assesses the situation — three damaged cars, one with a crushed bumper, at least one person injured. After calling for backup, Freeman ensures that everyone is OK and waits for EMS to arrive.
Accidents like this are uncommon for Freeman, a University public safety officer, because the speed limit in his patrol area is under 30.
Freeman has been with the Public Safety Office for the past three years. He came to the force after working for Lawrence Animal Control because of a family history in law enforcement. His father works for the Douglas County Sheriff's Department.
“Him being an officer made me want to do it,” Freeman said.
According to Sgt. John Dietz, the job of a policeman is predominantly meticulous paperwork.
“Everything has to be done a certain way,” Dietz said.
According to Dietz, Freeman takes this part of the job as well as he takes the rest.
“He’s a good guy, he does what needs to be done,” Dietz said.
Before the paperwork begins, a typical night on the job consists of driving the streets of campus, making traffic stops, foot patrols in buildings and parking lots, and responding to calls. These jobs, however, bring a variety of different interactions and experiences for Freeman.
“It’s never boring because it’s never the same thing,” he said.
Freeman enjoys the job because of the variety of people he talks to throughout a shift.
“With the variety of everything KU brings, you learn things every day when you talk to people,” Freeman said.
He said that the job has helped him understand other cultures and learn from the students and other individuals he encounters on campus.
As a part of PSO, Freeman also works basketball and football games, as well as special details when important people come to campus. This includes working on the detail when former president Bill Clinton came to campus in 2015, and guarding the rules of basketball during the game against Kentucky last year.
“It was really cool that I was in charge of a document worth a couple million dollars,” Freeman said.
Freeman is a lifelong sports fan, so working athletic events is one of his favorite parts of the job.
Not every part of a PSO officer's job is as fun as athletics, though. Like any other police department, PSO has to go through a large amount of safety training in order to protect themselves. In everything they do they must be conscious of the risks and that they are putting themselves in danger.
“It’s always a thing in the back of your head when you pull someone over,” Freeman said. “You never know what they’ve got going on.”
As a result, Freeman tries to ensure that in his interactions he is as friendly as he can be and tries to understand the other person’s situation so he can offer assistance.
“When we see someone that’s often the worst part of their day,” Freeman said. “If I can get someone to realize that I’m there to help that’s always good for me.”
At the end of the day, the University is still a place for education and Freeman likes that he is a part of that mission.
“We’re not viewed as educators, but if I can help educate someone that’s good for me,” he said.
— Edited by Casey Brown