Life as U.P. officer: tough, but rewarding

Just two years removed from undergraduate studies at the University of Buffalo, Mark Dermody serves as one of the youngest University Police officers on Oswego State’s campus.

He believes that his age and graduation date give him an advantage when dealing with college students.

"It gives you an idea of maybe what they’re thinking or what their train of thought is," said Dermody.

Dermody had been a psychology major in college, but had an interest in military or police life for a long time. His father was a U.P. officer at Brockport so he knew a lot about the job.

After some thought, he took the civil service test in November of 2007 and received his results the next February.

The civil service test is roughly 75 questions and involves many different components, including reading a lengthy scenario and then answering questions from memory. It also has traditional multiple-choice questions on everything from the penal law to dealing with different police situations.

The test is comprehensive, which means that it is difficult to study for. Like the SAT, it is meant to test a person’s problem solving abilities as well as what they already know.

After receiving his test scores, Dermody got a letter of interest from Oswego State’s University Police Department and came for an interview. He decided to join Oswego State’s police force and was selected out of college in May 2008.

He then had to complete an extensive background check and a 1,200 question psychological exam.

A candidate must pass the civil service test and have completed sixty hours of college credits before being hired. After that, the tough part begins. Dermody had to pass an extensive background check, a 1,200 question psychological test, and a medical exam.

Finally, Dermody started at the police academy and, after 23 grueling weeks, was hired in November 2008. He then returned to Oswego to start his field training, which lasted approximately 12 weeks.

"When you get out of the academy, you’re ready to go, but you really don’t know what you’re doing on a daily basis," said Dermody.

Dermody began patrolling on his own at the end of January. He said it was both exciting and nervous to be in the patrol car alone for the first time. However, eight months later he says he is still learning.

Even now, he still looks to his shift supervisors and older officers for help. Also, the steady stream of new officers joining the force affords him the opportunity to learn from the last guy who went through before him.

Dermody says he loves his job because of the unique environment he works in which keeps things interesting for him.

"Its fun working with college kids everyday," said Dermody.

Despite all of the opportunities and excitement, Dermody admits that there is a downside to being a police officer. The job is unpredictable.

"You have to go in knowing that we patrol 24/7, 365 days a year," said Dermody.

He says it’s easy to get involved when you’re young with no wife or kids at home, but when you do have a family, it can be difficult.

"You’re not always going to be able to be at your child’s little league game and you won’t get all of the holidays off," said Dermody.

Also, it can be difficult working with a student population because you see more instances of drinking and drug use. There are also many sad and disturbing cases, which officers can encounter, which can make it difficult to stay focused. Overall, Dermody says the benefits greatly outweigh the sacrifices.

"It’s fun… you’ll see and do things you never thought you would," said Dermody.

The transition from civilian to patrolman is not an easy one though, and the process first starts with The Civil Service test.

"You never know, you might be interested and with U.P. you can end up anywhere," said Dermody.

There are 28 SUNY police departments who employ over 500 police officers statewide.

The New York State University Police examination for the position of University Police Officer 1 is scheduled for November 14th, 2009 with an application-filing deadline of October 13th 2009. For more information, you can visit university police’s website at

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