Roanoke's longtime campus safety director retires

Tom Turner has spent the majority of his law enforcement career keeping Roanoke College safe.

As longtime director of Campus Safety, he has shaped the College's safety procedures, developed new policies and become a statewide leader in collegiate law enforcement.

Turner, with his wide grin and calm demeanor, has been a consistent and essential member of Roanoke's campus community.

This month, he retired after 31 years at Roanoke. He joined the College's staff in 1983, soon after he graduated from Roanoke with a criminal justice major as an adult student.

Turner, a Botetourt County native and a former Roanoke City police officer, has made his time at the College count in a tremendous way. Among his many achievements, he chaired a campus emergency task force in the aftermath of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings to evaluate safety at Roanoke. The efforts through that task force resulted in important changes, including the creation of a Maroon Alerts emergency text messaging system and enhancements to the College's counseling center.

Other improvements to Roanoke's security in the past several years include card access to 90 percent of Roanoke's residence halls, the addition of security cameras throughout campus and installation of blue tower emergency telephones in various outdoors spots.

In addition to Turner's leadership at Roanoke, he was one of four Virginia college law enforcement administrators, representing the Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, to meet with a governor's commission to review safety procedures in the months following the Virginia Tech shootings.

He also has held various leadership positions with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, including the Private Security Services Advisory Board, the Office of Campus Police and Security Advisory Panel and as a faculty member for the Campus Security Officer Certification Program.

In 2011, Turner received the Robert C. Dillard Outstanding Contribution to Campus Law Enforcement Award. This is the highest honor given by the Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

The College recognized Turner in December with the Service to All Roanoke Award. The STAR Award is given to employees of the College who demonstrate extraordinary service to the campus.

One person who nominated Turner for the award said, "He not only strives to do his best, but pushes us all to do ours. Tom doesn't just enforce the rules but helps young people make better decisions and develop into responsible citizens."

Also, for the past few years Roanoke's Interfraternity Council and the Dean of Students Office have sponsored a run/walk event to raise money for the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center and to recognize Turner's grandson, Tyler, who has autism. The event is called Tyler's Trek.

This unique event "truly recognizes the personal respect and impact one individual has had on the campus community," said Dr. Eugene Zdziarski, Roanoke's vice president of Student Affairs, this month during a retirement reception for Turner.

In retirement, Turner said he plans to spend more time with his family, travel and enjoy his hobbies, which include fly fishing and golfing.

Released: January 24, 2014
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