Staff: William Brown
Brown isn’t one to take the conventional path — joining the Marine Corps at 27 and becoming a law enforcement officer at 33 — but a desire to be close to his family pulled the Williamston native to ECU.
“After commuting for four and a half years with the Wilson Police Department, it was time for me to be close to home with my family,” Brown said. “My daughter just started going to preschool and I wanted to be nearby in case of an emergency. ECU was definitely a great choice for me to call home.”
Every day is different for Brown, but a common thread is building connections with ECU students, faculty, staff and the community.
“It all depends on our call volume,” Brown said. “(Sometimes I’m) taking reports of a crime or accident or getting calls to help someone unlock or jump-start their vehicle.
“I find myself walking around campus meeting and greeting students, faculty and staff members as I do my safe walks. I patrol main campus and the Brody School of Medicine making sure I’m seen in case someone needs my assistance.”
Along with serving as a field training officer to new hires, one of Brown’s favorite parts of his job is building relationships with students.
“The best part about interacting with the students is being able to form bonds with them over the years,” he said. “Even after they graduate, they are still very respectful.
“I am also able to teach students life lessons that help them develop during their time here,” Brown added. “The most difficult part of the job is seeing all the things the students go through on campus … students may not have an outlet that they can go to when they are struggling. It hurts to see how it takes a toll on them and their mental health.”
Brown believes that open communication between himself and students is vital to relationship building.
“The way I bridge the gap with students is by showing them that what they see on television about law enforcement does not apply to all officers,” Brown said. “By openly communicating and having an open mind to their opinions, I can form a trusting relationship with our students.
“Anytime they need to talk, I am here to listen while they are free of being judged,” he said. “I feel my responsibility about bridging the gap is to make sure students understand we are here to protect them and provide services to them when needed.”
Pirate football fans may recognize Brown from his weekend duties. Brown is the liaison officer for the ECU football team, spending his Saturdays with the players and coaches while ensuring that they’re protected before and after games.
“The job has been fantastic,” Brown said. “It’s been a great experience working up close with the football team while watching them develop and grow into young men.”
Brown was also recognized this month by the University of North Carolina System alongside ECU Officer Michael Fecteau. The pair was presented the Valor Award for helping students during mental health crises last year.
The award honors their courage, compassion and dedication to service and is the first time that ECU officers have received the recognition.
“It is a great honor to receive this award, (especially) due to the circumstances the student was facing,” Brown said. “I’m glad I was in the right place at the right time.”
Brown sees ECU Police continuing to work toward establishing positive relationships in the community.
“Our police department added positive community outreach to the apartment complexes where the students reside,” he said. “Our Community Affairs Department has incorporated education and awareness programs with the apartment complexes instead of the just the dorms on campus.”
Student-focused programming on campus is also important, Brown said, including bringing back self-defense classes and community events.
“We just hosted an event at the Main Campus Student Center called GAME P.L.A.Y (Police, Life and Youth),” he said. “Bringing the police department and college students together to play video and board games helps build trust with the community. I’m hoping this will continue to be an annual event so we can build trusting relationships.”
With football season and the semester winding down, Brown said he’ll continue to take the future one day at a time.
“I’m the type of person that likes to take things one day at a time,” Brown said. “I want to continue to serve the ECU community to the best of my ability until retirement and train new officers as they come in to prepare them for the upcoming future with the police department. Once I retire, I plan on doing some traveling, relaxing and spending more time with my family.”
Name: William Brown
Title: Master Patrol Officer
Colleges attended and degrees: University of Mount Olive, bachelor’s degree in criminal justice; Pitt Community College, associate degree in criminal justice
Years working at ECU: 14
What I do at ECU: Patrol officer with the ECU Police Department and I’m a liaison officer with the ECU football team for the last six years.
What I love about ECU: Meeting students and staff when I’m walking around campus. I enjoy having conversations with students about their career goals and encouraging them to go beyond bachelor’s degree.
Favorite part of your job? Trying to bridge a gap with students who may have doubt about police officers. I also like to help people whenever I can and being a good listener to someone who may need someone to talk to.
What advice do you give to students? Focus on getting your degree, being safe when going out, and staying out of trouble because it’s easy to get into and hard to get out of it. Live life to the fullest, follow your dreams and help others along the way.
What do you like to do when not working? Working in the yard, watching the western channel, work out occasionally, and spending time with family.
Last thing I watched on TV: “Gunsmoke”
First job: Bagger at Winn-Dixie
Guilty pleasure: Eating sweets
Favorite meal: My mom’s collards, barbecue chicken, yams and macaroni and cheese. Plus, pineapple cake if she makes it.
One thing most people don’t know about me: I’m a little shy and I love riding my motorcycle on the back country roads, hoping one day to take a trip on the West Coast.