On the spectrum of security-types, one end is often occupied by the gruff, humorless tough guy. The other by Paul Blart, Mall Cop. Clarke director of safety and security John Swanton forgoes those caricatures. Instead, he has inherited the personality of Clarke. Approachable, serious about his work, with a knack for Looney Tunes neckties.
After 22 years of the Dubuque police force, one might see campus as an oasis in the safety world; a Club Med for defunct police officers. But John views it differently.
“I’ve seen a big change in students,” he said over his time at Clarke. “You see kids arrive and watch them grow. It was a pleasure to come here.”
With a decade and a half of working on campus, John’s mission has been to shed the ethos of “us vs. them.” He said security used to be a last resort. Now, students think of security as someone they can get a hold of.
One way to foster that relationship has been the security office calling a residence hall home.
“It was suggested we move to administration. But given the traffic and accessibility to students, I wanted to stay,” he said. “Little things matter.”
Another is John’s trademark ties gifted by student workers, faculty and staff. No one is certain where the tradition started, but he said he is glad it makes him less of a stuffed shirt.
And if it helps make security more approachable, that’s all John could ask for.
“I want to be seen as a balance of tough and approachable – with a Daffy Duck tie,” he said.