The corners of his mouth are slightly upturned, presenting a sort of coy perma-grin. A shock of silver hair sits atop his head, giving him the air of a grandpa rather than a police officer. His nonchalant saunter when he walks belies his attention to detail and genuine concern for the safety of those on campus.
UVU Chief of Police John C. Brewer is anything but an ordinary police officer. Brewer became a police officer in 1973 while working toward a degree in wildlife management. A friend mentioned that the Mesa, AZ Police Department was hiring and that opened the door to Brewer’s true calling in life.
“I had the notion that I wanted to help people,” Brewer said. “That door opened and it was a very natural thing for me. This is what you’re supposed to do.”
After spending over 30 years in two Arizona police departments, Brewer became a consultant with Northwestern University’s center for public safety. Brewer criss-crossed the United States, offering 14 week courses in command officer training. When UVU began looking for a new police chief, Brewer decided to throw his hat in the ring.
“I was sick of travelling all the time,” Brewer said. “I put my name in for the job and here I am.”
When asked what the most rewarding part about of his line of work is, Brewer says that every once in a while he gets to help preserve a life. The police are often the first people to arrive where they are needed. Whether it is a break-in, an assault or a serious accident, the police are there when lives are in danger.
“You get to comfort and help people recover,” says Brewer. “We get to be there in those first critical moments when people are scared or hurt.”
When he talks about UVU, he talks about the quality of the students, faculty and staff. He has seen more good than harm come from the student population.
Brewer relates a story that took place just last week. A student walked up to him, handed him a wallet saying that he found it in a parking lot. Brewer took the wallet back to the police department and opened it to find out the owner’s name. Brewer found credit cards, an ID card and $434 in cash.
“I couldn’t believe it! That is a lot of money,” says Brewer. “And that’s what we deal with here. We have some great students.”
Chief Brewer is no fool either; he knows that there are still unfortunate things that happen from time to time. He knows that there are people that come to campus and commit crimes. Projectors have been stolen in the past, as well as laptops, phones and cash. This is why Brewer and other officers work to protect the student body. He wants everyone to be safe, and especially wants females on campus to feel safe.
“Criminals like the dark,” Brewer said. “Try not to walk alone. If you feel creeped out or uneasy, call us. If we’re not on a call, we would love to walk you to your car.”
Brewer goes on to say that when you have uneasy feelings or something is not quite right, it is important to pay attention to that and try to keep out of danger. The police are there to help keep campus safe, but according to Brewer, safety will start with individuals paying attention to what is going on around them.
Brewer also spoke of how important the safety of young lives is to the police department. The number of people on campus at any given time is equal to a small city, at around 15,000 people. Not many people know that the officers on campus are actually state police. They have the authority and jurisdiction to go and do what the situation warrants.
“I don’t feel that I’m better than anybody else,” says Brewer. “This is just what I’m supposed to do.”