We had 11 questions for Officer Chris Elston in our ongoing series to get to know Division of Public Safety staff.
How long have you worked for the University of Illinois Police Department?
Almost five years.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Weather permitting, I like to patrol on one of our Harley-Davidson police motorcycles. It makes it easy to get around campus, especially if we get a call in an area like the quad. I work the midnight shift, so every day of the week can be interesting.
What’s your favorite part of your job? What’s the worst?
Getting out and interacting with the public. I give safety presentations to student groups, and I enjoy learning about the different cultures of students.
As for the worst, seeing students going through a tough time in life. As a crisis intervention officer, I handle calls involving altered mental states such as suicidal thoughts, depression, and anxiety. It’s good to get them the help they need but sometimes we get the call after they’ve already tried to hurt themselves.
What is one thing that makes you different?
I’ve always considered myself to be a good communicator. I often encounter people that are having a really bad day and I try to find a way to lighten the mood. I think it helps to show that we’re human and I enjoy making people laugh, even if it’s after they’ve signed their speeding ticket.
What is something you’d like to see changed on campus or in the community?
More dialogue with the community we serve. This is a tense time for law enforcement and I feel that the truth doesn’t always make it to the news broadcast. I’ve seen my coworkers do some truly amazing things and I wish more people could see what we do.
Where is your favorite place to eat in Champaign-Urbana?
What is one of your funniest or fondest memories at the University of Illinois Police Department?
On midnights a few years ago, a squirrel managed to get into the police department. Another officer and I chased that critter for quite a while until some guys from Facilities brought a net. We wrangled him into a bathroom and he was ultimately captured and released back outside. Reviewing the security camera footage afterward was pretty entertaining.
What is your motto in life?
In veritate libertas, meaning “In truth, there is freedom.”
If you had once-in-a-lifetime, front-row tickets and a backstage pass to meet a recording artist, who would it be?
Guns N’ Roses.
If a fork were made of gold, would it still be considered silverware?
Is that considered the gold standard?
What is something you’d like to tell students?
Believe it or not, we’re looking out for you. Stay vigilant, and if something looks wrong, call. Unfortunately, we can’t be everywhere, so we need your help.