Campus & Community

Meet Dahiana Mesa, Operations Lieutenant of Simmons’ Public Safety Department

Lieutenant Dahiana Mesa

I cherish being a positive influence on someone’s life. . . Everyone is going through something at one point or another, and I do my best to help them out.

“Our [unofficial] motto at Simmons is not to jam up the student. Instead, we are here to assist, counsel, and provide guidance to them. We work closely with Student Affairs and the Office of Residence Life to make sure that Simmons students are safe and stay on track,” says Operations Lieutenant Dahiana Mesa of Simmons’ Public Safety Department.

Since she began working for Simmons as a police officer nine years ago, Mesa has received three promotions: Sergeant, Detective Sergeant, and Operations Lieutenant. In her current role, Lieutenant Mesa oversees the day-to-day operations of the Public Safety Department, which includes planning, organizing, motivating, directing, and evaluating all supervisors and the officers under their command. She is also in charge of scheduling, timekeeping, and payroll-related issues for the Department, and ensures that Department personnel complete their annual in-service training as mandated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Mesa also oversees a community policing endeavor called the Community Resource Team (CRT). “The CRT is a new program being introduced by Simmons University Police and Public Safety. This fresh strategy is designed to enhance our service to the Simmons community,” explains Mesa. “With the CRT, a Detective Sergeant will be assigned to specific duties that include community relations and investigations. The Sergeant assigned to this position will have key involvement in the development of the CRT.”

“To be honest, I kind of just do it all,” says Mesa. “I try to go above and beyond to make sure someone has the help and resources that they need.”

Resources for the Simmons Community

The Public Safety Department, located in suite B-104 on One Palace Road, offers a wide variety of services. Personnel responds to all calls regarding emergency and non-emergency situations, including jump-starting a car battery or unlocking a vehicle for the owner. The Department processes restraining orders, harassment prevention orders, and trespassing orders. Mesa and her colleagues orchestrate emergency preparedness drills and evacuations for residential students.

Police officers patrol both Simmons campuses (main and residence) and the surrounding areas by vehicle or on foot, and often collaborate with other local police departments to investigate criminal activity. Public Safety provides timely notifications, including Clery and Fire Safety reports, to the Simmons community. “If an emergency situation has occurred on campus, you will receive a RAVE Notification from Public Safety,” explains Mesa. “Simmons affiliates can log onto Workday to provide their phone number, and, if desired, they can add family members if they want them to receive these notifications from us as well.”

Simmons students may wish to request walking escorts, particularly when walking between the main campus and the residence campus after dark. However, as Mesa notes, “for legal and insurance purposes we cannot provide escorts in our vehicles unless the student is undergoing a medical or mental health emergency and needs to be transported to a hospital.”

The Public Safety Department maintains a lost and found and shares helpful tips on Instagram. “We educate students on how to lock their bikes [as bike theft is common in this area] and how to stay vigilant in the surrounding areas,” says Mesa. Students ages 18 and over can also come to Public Safety to register their pepper spray by filling out the proper paperwork. (Massachusetts residents under 18 require a Firearms Identification Card, or FID, to have pepper spray, mace, or other “self-defense sprays.”)

“Our Department is fully staffed 24/7,” says Mesa. “We have sergeants, police officers, dispatchers, and command staff operating around the clock to keep the Simmons community safe.”

Launching a Career in Public Safety

For Mesa, entering the profession of public safety was somewhat accidental. She majored in Criminal Justice at Salem State University, and, while a senior in college, interned at the Chelsea District Court as an assistant to the Chief of Probation, and at the Winthrop Police Department as a dispatcher. “Back then I wanted to be a probation officer, but I got an unexpected job offer from Winthrop. I took it just to get a sense of the field, and I realized that I really enjoyed it.”

Thereafter, Mesa entered the Reserve Intermittent Police Academy in 2014. After completing 372 hours of training, she was qualified to work as a special police officer. As required by the state of Massachusetts, Mesa is certified in the Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission list.

Serving the Simmons Community

“Once I came to Simmons, I saw what police officers do. In my role, I take different avenues to help and provide resources to an individual, which is comparable to what probation officers do. In this way, I am fulfilling my first professional goal.” While at Simmons, Mesa has also taken courses toward the Master’s in Social Work.

Although Mesa has friends and family members who have faced gender discrimination within law enforcement, she has not confronted these kinds of challenges. “It helps that I am a female officer at a predominantly women’s school,” says Mesa. Moreover, her presence on campus is inspirational for many Simmons students. “When I was serving as a police officer and sergeant at Simmons, students often asked specifically for me. They found me more relatable on this campus because I am female. Simmons has been an extremely welcoming and supportive environment.”

Sometimes students approach Mesa on campus and ask her for career advice. “The other day, a Black female student asked me if she should go into law enforcement [i.e., even though she may face challenges as a woman of color]. I told her to go for it. And that’s my advice for anyone thinking of going into this line of work — just do it.”

According to Mesa, one of the most rewarding aspects of working for Simmons’ Public Safety Department is seeing students blossom. “I get to see students grow and mature from their freshmen to senior years. Witnessing them becoming young adults is amazing, and many students keep in touch with me after graduation,” says Mesa.

“I also cherish being a positive influence on someone’s life. . . Everyone is going through something at one point or another, and I do my best to help them out. That’s what makes me feel good.”

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Kathryn Dickason