Being a first responder is in Security Officer Mike Lemar’s blood. “We do a lot,” he said. “We’re here to protect and serve, just like I did when I was a cop for 26 years.” Lemar was well-prepared for his position at MPW when he joined in 2017. He retired from being a policeman for the Village of New Concord in Eastern Ohio. Lemar always did security work in addition to being a policeman and he owns the Lemar Sign Company.
To him, MPW’s Hebron campus is like its own village in many ways. “I equate it to my time in law enforcement. It’s just come in and keep your eyes open,” Lemar said. “You have to watch for everything because the little things that most people don’t see every day have turned into some pretty bad situations in the past.”
As soon as Lemar passes through the front gate to campus, he’s on duty. “It’s a lot of surveillance, a lot of watching for things, a lot of paying attention to detail,” he said. “You want to be systematically unsystematic. That’s a law enforcement thing. You always just want to show up out of nowhere. You never want anyone to think, oh, he’s going to be here at 10 a.m., at 11 he’s going to be over here. Never become complacent.”
Lemar never knows what to expect. One day a package arrived in the mailroom labeled Hazardous Material. “We all backed away from it,” he said. “I don’t know what’s in that. The only thing on the package was the branch it came from and the phone number.” Lemar immediately called the branch, identifying himself as corporate security. He asked if any hazardous materials were sent to the corporate office.
“They said no, but I’m sitting here looking at a Hazmat package that’s addressed to the corporate office but there’s no one’s attention,” Lemar said. “You don’t know in this day and age.” A shipping person said it was sent with a Hazmat warning because the package contains a laptop computer with lithium batteries.
“It turned out to be nothing, but if we’re not situationally aware of things, anybody else would’ve been, ‘Yeah, let’s open it up.’ Now you’ve exposed the entire office to who knows what,” Lemar said. MPW Hebron campus security officers also patrol the MPW Aviation Center at John Glenn International Airport as well as the Lancaster Porta Kleen campus.
Wherever they’re patrolling, the safety of MPW security officers is always the priority. “I always wear my bulletproof vest and safety has a lot to do with always keeping your eyes open,” Lemar said. “Use those cameras to every possible advantage. I even have the camera system on my phone, so I can always view them. I can see other campuses—see what’s going on at the hangar and Porta Kleen. I can see what’s going on in Yuma, Arizona.”
But, for all the tension associated with security, Lemar said anyone entering the security field should be very easy-going. “I would say someone has to be mission-oriented and driven, and they need to be very water off a duck’s back,” he said. “They need to be able to let things go, because you’re going to be sometimes spoken to in a different way than everybody else will be.”
And, a security officer needs to be personable. “You don’t want to be just a drone. Walk around a bit and get to know everyone. Really be engaged with the community,” Lemar said. “Sheriff’s deputies say this campus is one of the safer places in Licking County because we have what’s basically a police presence. (Chief Security Officer John Schouster) runs it that way. We try to just use some tact. We strive to be as professional as possible.”