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Armed with Experience

Armed with Experience

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Public safety officer, now studying social work, a voice of encouragement

By L.A. Warren

Although a career in law enforcement means putting your life on the line, fear never has gripped Jackson State University Public Safety Captain Angela Butler.

Rather, the fulfillment that comes from helping others motivated her to pursue her lifelong passion and was furthered by watching television shows such as Law & Order, Magnum, P.I. and Miami Vice.

Butler, a native of Jackson, is now in her 20th year at JSU, describing it as one of the best places to work and attend school. She also is a junior studying social work.

“I love the atmosphere. I love interacting with people from all over the world, particularly learning about their cultures. I get to help students whose parents bring them here.

“Once they’re dropped off, I’ve had the privilege of ‘adopting’ some of them to let them know that JSU is not about partying but about learning.”

In her role as administrative captain, Butler is a supervisor and office manager, handling payroll and dispatch — emergency and non-emergency calls. In addition, she assigns parking decals and reserved spaces and files Uniform Crime Reports to the FBI. While some of these tasks may seem mundane, her job at times has been an emotional roller coaster.

She recounts a case that took a toll on her and reverberated throughout the city and state. In 2007, the slaying of JSU student Latasha Norman was a wrenching moment. Butler said she had numerous friendly encounters with Norman before the tragedy.

“It touched me even more because her body was found in the neighborhood where I grew up,” she said. “When I get home I have to take

off this uniform. I’m still human. Emotionally, there is some wear and tear.”

For seven years, Butler worked with Crime Prevention and Safety to try to avert harm and assist victims of rape and assault. “Now, I’ve been able to refer people to the Latasha Norman Center at JSU,” which was named after the slain student.

The facility assists people in coping with domestic violence and other issues that speak profoundly to Butler, a single mother of three daughters — 13-year-old twins and a 3-year-old. Also, Butler grew up as the youngest of four girls in her family.

Throughout her decades at JSU, she said she’s seen many positive changes, citing the university’s expansion with the Mississippi e-Center@JSU, the Madison campus and the new downtown location. As the main campus grows, she said she’d love to see a parking garage built.

Away from work, the law enforcement officer says she’s incognito. “No one seems to recognize me. I’m not a flashy person, but I do have average people clothes,” she joked.

As well, Butler said she loves to bowl, averaging 190. Her competitive spirit and athleticism (she played basketball and ran track in junior high and high school) have spread to her older daughters, who power lift. Also, on some weekends, she assists with a friend’s catering and wedding-planning business.

In the future, Butler aspires to become a deputy chief or assistant chief. However, she says her biggest joy for now is encouraging youth to excel. ONEJSU

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