Q&A with Tim Marron

Q&A with Tim Marron

New executive director of public safety feels right at home at SU

Story by: Mike Thee
Published: 2013-07-15

Tim Marron began last month as executive director of Public Safety and Transportation, bringing to the role 19 years of experience in law enforcement, both as a city police officer and a campus police sergeant. About a month into his time at SU, the Spokane native and Pacific Lutheran University graduate spoke of his career path, his first impressions of SU and a rather intriguing interest he pursues during off hours.

The Commons:  Can you talk a little bit about your background?

Tim Marron:  I worked for Puyallup Police Department for over 14 years, including a three-year stint as an instructor with the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center-the one police academy in the state other than the State Patrol, which has their own. The course of my career was spent in uniformed patrol but also with a focus on emergency preparedness and emergency management, especially active shooter response.

When I was at the academy, my focus was on developing police leaders-how to do the actual "stuff" of police work, including all the various types of emergency response. So, throughout my career I spent a lot of time in the community, preparing them and teaching them how to respond to emergencies. That continued (when I was) second in command at The Evergreen State College police department. (Unlike SU, they have a full-time, commissioned police department-all four-year state schools do, none of the private schools do.)

TimMarronSU_MainTim Marron is pictured here with (left to right) sons Austin and Connor, niece Madeline and nephew Jackson.

The Commons:  So what was it about SU that drew you here?

Tim Marron:  When I saw the position of executive director open at Seattle U and saw the job description, it matched perfectly-at least in my mind-with all the experience, training, education that I had in my police career, especially with the focus on guiding the community in emergency preparedness and coordinating with city, state and federal agencies.

I have a Jesuit education-I went to Gonzaga Prep. When I came here for the interview day and I got to know the community, it felt like coming home. So, being able to work on emergency preparedness in a community that's near and dear to my heart and identifying strongly with the values of creating just and humane leaders in the world was ideal.

The Commons:  Now that you've been here about a month, what have been your first impressions of SU?

Tim Marron:  I love working here. It's exciting because the university has such a commitment to public safety-not just in words, but in action. The university has devoted the resources necessary,  and sought out the top consultants in university public safety (Margolis Healy and Associates) to ensure that we are not only ready for the day to day things that Public Safety is responsible for but also for those once-in-a-career events that can make or break a university.

The Commons: What opportunities and challenges do you see for SU?

Tim Marron: The challenges at SU are no different than the challenges at any university in a major city-and that's dealing with crime in the local area, raising awareness of the campus community, upgrading the infrastructure for security purposes, like security cameras, environmental design for increased security, as well as providing adequate staffing, training, upgraded equipment and especially maintaining a good relationship with local police and fire. We are fortunate that the (Seattle Police Department) East Precinct is essentially two blocks off campus and we have three major hospitals within walking distance-Seattle University has some great advantages over other universities in that respect.

The Commons:  How did you become involved in the field of law enforcement and public safety?

Tim Marron:  It's funny, I started at Pacific Lutheran with a major in education and while I was there, to help pay the bills, I worked as a campus safety officer. At the time, PLU had only a few professional, full-time staff and the rest were student staff. So in the course of that, I got to know the role of campus public safety officer and also worked closely with Pierce County Sheriff's Department, which was our primary responding agency. Working with those fine professionals is really what really inspired me to look for a career in law enforcement.

The Commons:  Looking back on your previous roles, either from your time on the Puyallup force or at The Evergreen College, what is it that has brought you the most satisfaction?

Tim Marron:  At Evergreen, preparing the police department and the campus community to respond to a major incident that would be devastating to the school like an active shooter or earthquake, and knowing that when I left the college, they were far better prepared than the day that I and some others walked in there. That's a great feeling of satisfaction.

One of the things that goes along with this job is a constant sense of urgency. In public safety, we don't think about, Oh, well, in about six months we'll be better prepared to deal with (a major event)-we think, What if it happens today? What I want all of my officers to understand is, where am I in relation to where the possible emergency could occur? What can I do today to be better prepared to respond to that-to be in a position to save that life, what's something that buys me those extra seconds? So what brings me the most satisfaction is giving the officers and the community the training and the equipment and the plan so that when the emergency happens, they're best prepared to deal with it. Because in an emergency-under stress-people do not rise to the occasion; they sink to the level of their training and preparation.

The Commons:  Going back to your days as a student at Gonzaga Prep, what did you take away from the Jesuit education you received there?

Tim Marron:  It especially hit home when I spent the past few weeks here and reflected on my professional and personal journey. In law enforcement, particularly teaching at the police academy, it's not like boot camp where you're teaching people to follow orders, salute and what not-that's crucial in the military. In law enforcement, though, each officer at some point is the captain of his or her own ship. They're the one on the scene that has to make that critical decision in seconds. And because of the power entrusted to them, they have to have a good moral code and this sense of humanity about them.

So, in looking at the mission of Seattle University and the mission of the Jesuits, it's remarkable how it ties in nicely with law enforcement and with public safety, in general. When you're in a position of that sort of responsibility, you have to be just-you have to have a sense of justice-and you have to be a humane person and you have to be a leader. So public safety, in essence is making sure that every member of the staff at all levels develops those qualities based in a sense of justice. Reflecting on my career and particularly my teaching career at the academy, the impact of being raised in a Catholic community and going through that Jesuit institution is remarkable. And now I have 1,200 former recruits who are police officers on the streets in Washington State. I run into them everywhere!

The Commons:  Have you read any books lately that you'd recommend?

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