Behind the Badge

Behind the Badge

Music brought Jeffrey Williams ’93 to Pacific University. Liberal arts took him to his dream job as a police officer.

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Jeffrey Williams’ first call on the job was a burglary in progress.

Sirens off, he and his field-training officer pulled the patrol car up to the house and quietly exited the vehicle.

Then, Williams slammed the door, shattering the silence.

“All of the officers looked at me, and my field-training officer says, ‘Oh, that’s right, you don’t know anything,’” recalled the 1993 Pacific University alumnus.

Another time, Williams said, he arrived at the scene of a bad crash and was ordered to block an intersection. He turned on the overhead lights and turned off the engine – until the car battery died.

“Police officers go through different stage in their careers,” he said. “You start to build this repertoire of experiences, like, ‘Oh, I’ve seen this, I’ve seen that, and I know if I say this it will evoke a violent response.’ You get more confident because you’ve experienced different things.”

Now a captain with the Beaverton (Ore.) Police Department, Williams has had a chance to gain many of those experiences. He also is one of many Pacific University alumni who have pursued law enforcement, taking their liberal arts educations to careers as police and parole officers or forensic scientists. Soon, even more may follow, as the university considers a new undergraduate major in crime, law and society.

“The Pacific experience broadens your scope of the world and what’s out there, like different options, social issues and cultures,” he said. “[In the police world], we are immersed in our communities and deal with all kinds of issues we talk about in sociology classes, psychology classes and even political science classes.”

WILLIAMS ALWAYS LONGED TO BE A POLICE OFFICER. He remembers badges and blue uniforms from when Officer Friendly programs visited his schools when he was growing up in Portland.

“They would pop the trunk and would have Blazer cards and talk to you about school safety,” Williams said. “I remember thinking it was so cool, and I just always wanted to be a police officer.”

It was music, not law enforcement, though, that brought Williams to Pacific University. He played the trumpet and, at a high school band competition, was introduced to Pacific.

“I didn’t even realize anyone from Pacific University was at the event, but a week or so later, I received a call from one of the music professors,” he said. “I had never considered a private university and was flattered they wanted me to help build the music program back up.”

He received a music scholarship and enrolled in 1989, participating in the pep band, concert band, jazz band and orchestra, and performing in West Side Story with the theatre program.

In the meantime, he explored. He was attracted to politics, social science classes and creative writing.


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