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Investigator embraces new role

Katie Kohler | Wednesday, April 12, 2006

As the academic year comes to a close for students, the end marks a new beginning for Kim Villere, Saint Mary’s new security investigator and program coordinator.

Villere, who took over on March 23, said she plans to continue some of the programs implemented by predecessor Patty Rolens as well as initiate some of her own.

Rolens left her job at Saint Mary’s to fulfill her previous position in the Mishawaka Police Department as a dispatcher, she said Tuesday.

Villere has a strong background in security and law enforcement. As a South Bend police officer in the early 1990s, she worked her way from road patrol officer to undercover narcotics officer.

She also has previous ties to Saint Mary’s. Dave Chapman, head of Saint Mary’s Security, was her road patrol supervisor while on the SBPD.

Villere also worked as a drill instructor at a boot camp for juvenile felons in Tallahassee, Fla. as well as an officer in southern Florida and New Orleans.

Villere and her husband arrived back in South Bend two weeks before Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.

“It’s great to be back in my home town [of South Bend] with my family and friends,” Villere said.

Villere described her position as new Security Investigator and Program Coordinator as tri-fold. The first aspect, she said, involves typical security officer duties – locking and unlocking buildings, patrolling the campus, enforcing traffic and parking regulations and responding to emergency and non-emergency calls.

The second facet is to investigate incidents that cannot be quickly resolved, she said. These events include assault, theft, vandalism and sexual assault.

“My responsibility in that regard is to assist the victim with receiving medical attention, assist her in contacting someone if she requests, and securing any evidence,” she said.

She will also be responsible for ensuring that the student body is made aware of hazardous events on campus so they can be conscious of their surroundings, she said.

Villere’s final role is that of is program coordinator.

“It is my responsibility to organize and present programs to Saint Mary’s [students] to make them more aware of their personal safety,” she said.

Villere said she is looking forward to growing into the position.

“While accepting this position at the end of a school year has its disadvantages, I am looking forward to using the summer months to plan many new programs and continue some previous programs,” she said.

While Villere will continue to educate students on date rape, drugs, Internet safety and alcohol abuse, the program coordinator position has allowed her to put her own ideas into action. Villere titled her new ideas as “Common Sense” programs.

“If eliminated, these [common sense] problems could reduce crimes,” Villere said.

Students sometimes engage in unsafe behavior, she said, such as running alone while listening to loud music or leaving bags unattended around campus.

“I would like to create other new programs such as training the students to remember valuable physical features about an attacker in the unfortunate event she is ever in that situation,” Villere said.

Even with her campus security responsibilities, Villere also wants to work with Health and Wellness services at Saint Mary’s as best she can.

“I look forward to working with Health and Wellness in whatever capacity they would like so we can combat issues such as eating disorders.”

Villere’s other aspirations include motivating students to get more involved in the community.

Villere said she wants her work to affect more than just the security branch of the Saint Mary’s community and hopes this summer will help her orient herself to the campus setting.

“I look forward to growing and advancing my position here and being part of the Saint Mary’s community for many years.”

Rolens said she will remain on call at both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.

“I hope I left a good impression and was able to mend bridges between security and the students,” she said. “I miss Saint Mary’s, but I think Kim [Villere] will do a good job.”