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Officer Brandy Barnard: A Positive Influence on Students, Police Department

March 2, 2009

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Officer Brandy Barnard, University Police Department

Even with just a year under her belt at University Police Department, Officer Brandy Barnard has already earned the respect of her fellow officers. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

Seven women are currently among the ranks of the University Police Department (UPD) -- the most at any one time in its 37-year history. They are investigators, police officers and inspectors. Each has her own background and story. But what they share is a dedication to creating a peaceful and safe environment for UAlbany students in order to enhance the quality of the academic life.

When Officer Brandy Barnard arrives at University Police Department (UPD) headquarters for her overnight shift, she looks rather unassuming dressed in her pajamas, just before changing into her standard grey uniform. But make no mistake about it, she's tough.

Even with just a year under her belt at UPD, Barnard has already earned the respect of her fellow officers -- both male and female alike.

"I don't feel that I have to prove that I'm tough, I feel that I'm treated as an equal," said Barnard, of Albany. "But I want to prove it. I don't want anyone to doubt it. I don't want gender to be an issue."

Barnard knows the importance of her job, which is creating a safe environment for UAlbany's 17,000 students. It's imperative that the students know UPD is there to protect them, Barnard said, and believes a strong female presence in the unit provides students a greater opportunity to feel comfortable approaching and talking with them.

It's quite a contrast in lifestyle for a woman who grew up on her family's dairy farm in Gouverneur, N.Y. But a passion for helping people inspired her interest in law enforcement. Though, she never imagined becoming a police officer.

While majoring in criminal investigation at SUNY Canton, Barnard pictured herself testing DNA in a police lab, not patrolling the streets armed with a gun. But, after a 15-week internship with the Delaware County Special Investigation Unit, Barnard was hooked. After graduation, she accepted a position as an investigator with the Delaware County Sheriff's Department. While working there full-time, she attended the Otsego County Law Enforcement Academy on a part-time basis to become an officer.

Today, Barnard patrols the University's uptown and downtown campuses during the overnight shift on weekends. She responds to medical calls and emergencies and tours the corridors of the residence halls as part of UPD's community policing efforts.

"She is exceptionally intelligent, has an engaging personality, a very quick wit, is analytical and compassionate, is comfortable and poised in all kinds of social interactions, and brings a wealth of law enforcement skill and experience with her," said UPD Chief J. Frank Wiley. "She has already made a very positive impact on and in this department. I'm thrilled to have her on this team."

She enjoys the camaraderie within UPD, and describes the department as "one big family" -- people she trusts with her life, and vice versa. It includes seven women -- the most at any one time in the department's history.

"It feels good to be part of it," said Barnard. "I think it diversifies our department and, hopefully, breaks down any stereotypes that may exist."

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Rabi Musah
UAlbany Faculty

"It is an enriching experience for me to observe people as they come to recognize something for the first time."

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