Department of Public Safety, Sergeant
by John Smith - Sept. 3, 2015
In Diana Hepler’s view, she had more to accomplish at Ferris State University than earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. She is pleased to look back on 30 years of service with the University’s Department of Public Safety, and a fulfilling life as part of the Big Rapids community.
The Muskegon native had opportunities to join other departments when she graduated, in 1985, and said that she had actually hired in with the police force in her hometown before making a final choice.
“I stayed here because I loved the area, the people I was working with … the community is small enough that you get to know everybody, and I thought it’d be a great place to live and start a family,” she said.
Hepler has had temporary duty as a DPS detective and as interim assistant director, but has spent the remainder of her career working the night shift, where she currently supervises operations as a sergeant. The 2015-16 academic year has begun, and Hepler said her experience tells her not every call involving a Ferris student should lead to an arrest or ticket being written.
”They’re out, first time away from mom and dad, they make a mistake. We get them some counseling, we might refer them to the Office of Student Conduct, and they might have some kind of a ‘choices’ program,” Hepler said. “A lot of times, that’s all it takes for them to say, ‘This is not what I came up here for,’ and they change their direction. We don’t run into them anymore.”
As night shift supervisor, Hepler supports officers on their patrols, promotes crime prevention in residence halls, responds to emergencies and supervises Ferris students serving as DPS dispatchers. Some of those student dispatchers are looking to careers in law enforcement, and Hepler said Ferris’ School of Criminal Justice has a great reputation throughout Michigan.
“I would tell anybody that’s looking for a career in law enforcement to check out Ferris. Once you go through the academy here, you’re certifiable to be hired, to have a job,” Hepler said. “At other universities, once you graduate, then you still have to go through an academy.”
Hepler’s oldest son, Ethan, is taking classes at Ferris to improve his standing when he begins service in the Marine Corps. Diana’s twins, Abby and Keegan, are juniors at Big Rapids High School. She said that the family finds plenty of enjoyable activities on campus, and in Big Rapids.
”You have so many opportunities outside of work. My kids are involved in sports, my one son played hockey growing up, so we love to go watch the Bulldogs play. My other two play on the high school’s varsity soccer teams,” Hepler said. “There’s so much opportunity for them to see a university setting, watch university sports. At Williams Auditorium, the plays, the concerts, it’s just always something for someone to do around town.”
Hepler said that she is thankful for the many friendships and acquaintances that have developed from her work on the Ferris campus, and as a member of the University and Big Rapids community.
John Smith is the communications specialist for News Services and Social Media in University Advancement and Marketing.
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