DePaul’s Safety Guardian

Public safety officer Maureen Greene has been keeping DePaul safe for more than 25 years

At the safety workshops she hosts every summer for 2,000-plus new students and their parents, Maureen Greene distributes hand-packed goody bags brimming with everything from refrigerator magnets to portable alarms able to blast an ear-piercing sound at the push of a button. Each item clearly displays DePaul’s emergency numbers.

“The biggest thing is to make sure they start using the phone numbers,” says Greene. Currently a sergeant of crime prevention, she is part of a public safety team that serves the Lincoln Park and Loop campuses. Made up of more than 70 officers, sergeants and investigators, the team works in tandem with the Chicago Police Department. While public safety officers don’t carry weapons or write tickets, they are trained in the use of CPR and pepper spray, and they recently underwent training to recognize and respond to mental health crises.

During her tenure at DePaul, Greene has done everything from addressing parents’ concerns over missing children (more often than not, the “missing” student is just not answering their phone) to serving in DePaul’s free 6 p.m.–6 a.m. safety escort service.

“Over the past 26 years, I have taken care of and helped many students and their parents so that they feel safe. I want students to come to us for any reason, whether they’re overseas and their wallet is stolen or they become ill and need a hand to hold,” she says.

A Chicago native, Greene lives in the same Albany Park two-flat where she was raised and where she raised her own children.

I have taken care of and helped many students and their parents so that they feel safe. I want students to come to us for any reason, whether they’re overseas and their wallet is stolen or they become ill and need a hand to hold.

Hailing from a family of Chicago cops—her father, James Rey, was an officer for 40 years who, for a time, was detailed to DePaul—Greene originally chose work outside law enforcement. She worked in the accounts payable department for the Schwinn Bicycle Company for 12 years, but when the company dissolved, she came to DePaul.

What appealed to her about becoming a public safety officer was being able to work in the field without being in the line of fire. “Having grown up around cops, I did not want to carry a gun,” she says. What began as a part-time position soon turned into a full-time role.

She has seen changes over the years, particularly with regard to the digital technology that has exploded over the past decade. “One of the biggest changes is how people are able to know about a news event almost the moment it happens,” she says. DePaul has kept up with technology by posting real-time safety bulletins on the university website.

Despite a changing world, Greene’s message to students has remained constant.

“Be aware. Look around, look up from your phones, know where you’re going,” she says.
And to parents? “Trust that you’ve given your children the tools to make good decisions and be safe.”

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