I grew up in Paterson, N.J. where my dad served as a police officer for 25 years. At a very young age I decided to follow in his footsteps and set my sights on becoming a police officer. After graduating from high school, I was too young to apply for police work and honestly still had some growing up to do so I enlisted in the Navy. Upon being discharged, I returned to my hometown in New Jersey and focused on finding a job in law enforcement. While participating in the hiring process for several agencies, I was routinely asked why I wanted to be in law enforcement and my standard answer was that I wanted to help people and keep them safe. I know this sounds so stereotypical, but I truly believed this and carried this commitment with me throughout my twenty-eight-year career and still to this day in my current role.
I was successful in finding a career opportunity in law enforcement and started my career as a corrections officer working in a county jail, I later transferred to the courts as a sheriff’s deputy but still had a longing to be a patrol officer and moved with my family to the Seattle, Washington area where I served as a patrol officer with a city police department south of Seattle. While with this agency I worked in several positions in patrol, but my favorite assignment was in the community policing unit where I was very active in working with the community on crime prevention matters and also with an elementary school where I worked closely with the school staff and students delivering classes to them on personal safety and crime prevention.
In early 2002 I transferred to the Port of Seattle Police Department, which is responsible for policing Port owned properties on the Seattle waterfront and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Immediately after joining the Port, I became deeply involved in the community, volunteering in schools, conducting crime prevention training sessions, implementing block watch programs and educating people about safety.
In 2017, after serving 28 years in law enforcement I retired and joined a technology company that was implementing a security/safety program to enhance a mobile platform offering which moved me to the Tampa, Florida area. A few months later I was on my way to the gym when I heard the news report regarding the active shooter incident at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. I have to admit, it hit me really hard, I pulled off to the side of the road and listened to the report and felt this overwhelming need to help out, unfortunately I was far from the area and retired for a few months already so there wasn’t much I could do. I thought back of my years in law enforcement and what my former peers might be doing to work with their communities to assure everyone was safe but that was as much as I could do. I realized in that moment that I really missed being active in a job where my primary focus was to keep people safe.
Throughout my law enforcement career, I had committed an immense amount of time to personal safety training which included active shooter training for both the community such as Run, Hide, Fight principles and as the Training Unit Commander we implemented active shooter response programs for our officers. Additionally, I had the opportunity to serve as the Executive Producer for a video called Airport Active Shooter which came about after the active shooter incident at the Los Angeles World Airport (LAWA).
Several months later, while attending a conference in New Orleans I ran into Chris McLaughlin who was a VP of Global Solutions with Evolv who I had previously met when I was with the Port Police. I was really impressed with the company’s offering and upon researching the company further, I felt connected to the Evolv mission: To make places safe and keep people safe. That aligned with my life’s mission, the core belief in which I had always taken enormous pride, it seemed like a match made in heaven and it was!
A Common Purpose with Our Customers
At Evolv, I get to live my mission every day. A few weeks ago, I heard about the shooting at the Sarasota County Fair which is practically in my backyard. It really bothered me. It so happened we had an Evolv Express® system in the area because we were conducting a proof-of-concept pilot for a potential customer in the Tampa area. The system was available, and I immediately thought: “We can help.”
I reached out to our internal team and leadership all of which were supportive, so I called the Fair and spoke with their CEO and offered to help them. Our offer was to let them use an Express system free of charge for the remaining week of the fair to screen guests for weapons. They were thrilled. Seeing the Fair had an immediate need to keep people safe we stepped up and got an Express up and running to help solve a problem, just like my days as a police officer, focused on solving problems. We had great results at the Fair and the entire Fair Executive Team were very impressed with the Express and even more impressed with our Company for our willingness to step up and help keep people safe!
I really enjoy my role with Evolv, it affords me an opportunity to develop close relationships—friendships—with many of our customers. A big part of that is the fact that we share a common mission to keep people safe.
One example is the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando where keeping people safe was at the forefront of their “Front yard Festival” concept. In order to provide patrons with a safe way to be entertained during the pandemic they pivoted and created an outdoor venue. Their front yard became their performance space and with a mix of new programming, they are reigniting the greater Orlando community – all within a safe perimeter where they leveraged the Evolv Express touchless approach to weapons screening as part of their reopening plan.
Another example is the Florence County School District in South Carolina. We all are too familiar with the shooting incidents that have occurred at our schools and the Florence County Schools are committed to preventing these types of incidents from occurring in their schools and implemented the Evolv Express to assist them in keeping staff and students safe.
Florence had metal detectors, but the superintendent, school board and security director wanted to use a more innovative way to prevent weapons from entering the schools. Despite the additional cost of the Express, they were focused on protecting their students and staff and made the investment in Evolv. After assuring we were the right fit for their environment, we worked with their team to deploy the Express and enhance the overall process of screening for weapons replacing the walk-through metal detectors which had more of a prison feel than that of a learning environment.
Safety First, Always
From the time I talked with Chris McLaughlin in New Orleans, one of the things that has been consistent is that we are always up front and honest with our customers—and with ourselves. We tell customers exactly what our systems can and can’t do and work with the customer to develop an overall process to address their screening needs. If we get asked a hard question, we always give the honest answer. Having been on the receiving end of many sales pitches over the years I can honestly say that was not my experience with many other companies. I truly appreciate that Evolv is honest in our approach to solving a very serious problem of gun violence and works hard at improving our technology to assure we meet our mission of keeping people and places safe.
When I left law enforcement, I couldn’t be sure I would ever find a job in the private sector that would give me the same sense of satisfaction I had and fulfill the need I have inside to help people. But Evolv is a truly mission-driven company. To me, that’s the beauty of the company. We all feel that way, from the junior levels of the company to the very top; doing what is right for the customer, keeping places safe, keeping people safe.