Jared Westhoven ‘19 was sworn in by Director of Public Safety Kimberly Beaty as a full-time Public Safety officer on March 20.
While Westhoven works on completing his master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, he hopes that his new position as an officer will help him become a counselor for first responders and veterans.
Westhoven graduated with a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice and psychology with a minor in forensic psychology. Originally, his plan was to attend Canisius in hopes of one day working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), but after studying psychology he decided to change his path.
“Not many departments have a mandatory mental health debriefing or counseling after these incidents, and those that do find it [are] hard for police officers to open up about what they have seen or felt with a psychologist who has not encountered what they have,” Westhoven said. “This realization helped guide me to become an officer at Public Safety.”
Through his own research, Westhoven said he found that some first responders develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or cumulative PTSD due to the repeated exposure of trauma or high-stress situations.
Before being sworn in as a full-time Public Safety officer, Westhoven worked as a dispatcher for Public Safety. As a dispatcher, he took calls, relayed information to officers, and had to determine the best course of action to deal with certain situations.
After gaining experience and completing the application test, he was sworn in as an officer. He still has to complete training at the academy for Peace Officer training, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, Westhoven is working alongside his colleagues on campus in what he described as a “ghost town” because there are less than 20 students remaining.
Looking forward, Westhoven hopes to strengthen the bond between Public Safety and students, and to leave an impact on the campus. Westhoven also reflected on the Jesuit values he’s learned from Canisius, saying that they have guided him to go above and beyond for the community on campus.
“One of my major goals in becoming an officer is to help mend the bond between the students and the officers,” Westhoven said. “I do not want the students to feel that our department is around to get them in trouble or feel unsafe around our officers. By reopening this connection, it will allow the students to feel more comfortable around us and more willing to talk with the officers if they encounter an issue.”