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University Police Officers, Staff Honored with Statewide Awards

Officer Connors Steps Up in Absence of Stricken Partner

UMLPD MACLEA awards winners
UMass Lowell Police Department members, from left, Deputy Chief Ron Dickerson, Officer Jeff Connors, Officer Ed Davis, Officer Bill Emmons, Ken Wilson and Chief Randy Brashears at the Dec. 18 MACLEA ceremony at Tufts University.

By Ed Brennen

Whether it’s educating new employees and international students about campus safety at orientation meetings, handing out free cups of joe and striking up conversations at “Coffee with the Cops” events, or giving criminal justice interns an inside look at police work, the UMass Lowell Campus Resource Officer team of Joe Brown and Jeff Connors is a familiar — and important — part of the university community.

Half of that team has been missing, though, ever since Brown suffered a massive heart attack following a workout near his New Hampshire home in August. After a month of hospitalization and three months in a Boston rehab facility, Brown was able to return home in December and is awaiting bypass surgery.

During his partner’s absence, Connors has not only carried on the work of the community policing programs, but he’s also served as the liaison between the police department and Brown’s family. For his efforts, Connors was one of four members of the department to be honored at the Massachusetts Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators’ 28th annual awards ceremony, held recently at Tufts University.

“Officer Brown was the primary coordinator of the successful intern program, and Officer Connors never dropped that ball on this and other community policing programs,” says UMass Lowell Police Chief Randy Brashears, who nominated Connors for the Outstanding Contribution to Campus Public Safety award. “Officer Connors is doing an amazing job and was instrumental in raising financial support to help the Brown family.”

Indeed, a GoFundMe page set up by the police department has raised nearly $15,000 to help pay for Brown’s medical expenses, drawing donations from 234 individuals and groups. 
“During this time without Joe, I am constantly reminded about the impact he’s had on the community,” says Connors, who began working with Brown as a Campus Resource Officer in 2014 but has counted him as a friend for more than 20 years. “It really doesn't surprise me because I’ve known what type of person he is for years and I know how he treats people.

“The start of the semester was busy without Joe's knowledge on the various programs that he has either started or helped organize, but with the help of other department members we have made it,” Connors says.

Officer Bill Emmons received a Heroic Action award, meanwhile, after helping to resuscitate an elderly university employee who had collapsed at Pinanski Hall in December. 

Officer Ed Davis also received a Heroic Action award after working with Lowell police to apprehend three suspects following an off-campus incident in March. 

“The quick-thinking actions of Officer Davis led to a successful outcome,” Brashears says.

Ken Wilson, manager for security and dispatch operations, received an Administrative Initiative award for his cost-saving work in expanding the role of the contract security firm Securitas on campus.

MACLEA, a non-profit organization dedicated to the administration of law enforcement and security programs on college campuses across the state, has 117 members from its 68 represented agencies.