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The Dart: Co-Lin policeman helps keep students safe

Campus police officer Dennis Williams, left, talks to Automation and Controls instructor Geoffrey Horne Friday morning before the start of 8 a.m. classes outside of the vocational studies building at Co-Lin Natchez campus. Williams has been a campus police officer with Co-Lin for six years. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Dennis Williams is serious about ID badges.

A six-year veteran of the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Natchez Campus’s police force, Williams said the campus IDs help him mark who should be there and sometimes who should not.

“It’s all about safety,” Williams said. “That badge lets me know if you belong here, if you should be headed to class or if you are from outside the campus.”

When The Dart found Williams Thursday afternoon, he was on a foot patrol in the Co-Lin vocational studies building.

While the job is mostly calm, it’s not without excitement.

Williams said most days are admittedly focused on making sure students aren’t making parking violations and are following the generally accepted rules of conduct on the school grounds.

But he’s also had to respond to a fire in a campus building, and Williams once had to confiscate a machete that someone used to threaten a student.

And he’s equipped to handle it. After completing the 10-week course this summer, Williams is now a certified policeman.

“All of the city and college police departments in Mississippi are pushing to have all of their officers be certified, and when the college asked me if I thought I could go (to certification classes) at 45 years old, I went and I aced with flying colors,” he said. “It was exciting, but I enjoyed every minute of it. If I could go for free, I would go back right now.”

In the normal pace of a day, Williams said he gets to the point that he recognizes students and they recognize him, and a few will stop and speak with him. Some he knows by name.

“It is just like family,” he said. “Some students will just walk by you, but we have some who will come to us and talk to us like we are their fathers.”

At one time, students who might have talked to him like a father included one to whom he was a father, his son, Dennis Jr., who was taking welding classes at the college.

Which brings Williams back to the topic of ID badges.

“When he was coming here, I would ask my son, ‘Do you have everything; have you got your ID badge?’” Williams said.

“I don’t care if it is my mother, my sister or anybody else, I am going to notice it if they don’t have that ID.”

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