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Former police officer brings new ideas

Annie Abernethy

If you plan on getting a good night’s sleep for the rest of your time at Mills, you may never see the face of one of your newest protectors.

Sergeant Gregory Risby joined the Public Safety team in June and watches over the campus from 10 p.m. to 6 in the morning, supervising his fellow officers in making sure nightlife at Mills stays safe and secure.

When Risby first arrives for his shift, he signs into his office computer and is greeted by his desktop background, a smiling dog wearing Risby’s nine-year-old daughter’s pink sunglasses. He checks in with his colleagues at the gate and those cruising campus.

Risby works all night with his team to make sure that the community is safe, but he says they can’t take all the responsibility for ensuring your safety.

“I don’t want to have anything happen on my watch where someone gets victimized,” Risby says. “My whole goal is getting the students to really understand everyone is responsible for their own protection and their own safety.”

Risby is proud that he is part of a revamping of Public Safety toward what he calls “community policing.” He says that Public Safety plans to help students become more aware of how they might be making themselves vulnerable. For example, if a student leaves a purse out in plain view in their car, Public Safety may issue a “Gotcha!” notice to remind that student she could have been victimized.

Public Safety Director Michael Lopez says Risby is in charge of the community policing and soon-to-come bike patrol program, where officers will be able to patrol areas they haven’t been able to in the past.

It’s clear that Risby is committed to keeping communities healthy and safe. Before coming to Mills, he was an officer at the Oakland Police Department and was instrumental in operating a community-based program to limit alcohol sales and abuse in Oakland.

When Risby was young, his good friend’s father was a police lieutenant, and Risby says watching him was a big influence on his decision to go into public safety. “I used to like the way he was really out to help people and make their quality of life better. One of the nicest people I ever met, [he was] very down to earth.”

These qualities that Risby saw in his friend’s father are the same that caused Lopez to hire him. “He puts you at ease right away,” Lopez said. “He’s very down to earth [and] he’s very knowledgeable.”