Balancing work with helping oversee distance learning for his children, University Police Services officer Ryan Willman said he and his family have decided to look for and to create the positive as we all make our way through the pandemic.
What is it like being on campus now with the university having re-opened both in person and virtually?
If you have ever been on campus during a summer semester, that is how it currently feels. With such a large decrease in our campus population, there is a stark contrast from last fall to this fall. It is definitely quieter around campus. However, even with the fewer number of people, there is still the ever-present optimistic and resilient atmosphere that defines both UNLV and the Las Vegas community.
What do you miss most about campus life since remote instruction began?
I miss the multitudes of energetic, focused, and ambitious students flooding the campus. It is hard to not be inspired by the prolific energy that permeates around campus when it’s at full capacity. Though the amount of people on campus has decreased substantially I have been pleasantly surprised to see students come back to campus with the same zeal I had observed pre-COVID.
What's your day typically look like right now?
My typical workday has not changed very much. One of the biggest differences due to the reduced campus population is the number of calls for service. We saw a slight drop, but, now with more people slowly returning to campus, we have more eyes and ears to report suspicious activity, so our call volume has again increased with the reopening. I enjoy responding to all calls for service and assisting our community.
One thing I have stayed consistent with is traffic enforcement — ensuring the local and campus communities continue to drive responsibly. As traffic on and around UNLV increases, you might see more cars being stopped by officers. These interactions present opportunities for us to remind our local community of proper driving practices that will help keep them and others safe.
Your safety tip for campus?
I cannot emphasize enough if you see something or experience something suspicious contact UPD or an appropriate supervisor as soon as practicable. Our mission is to provide a safe and secure learning environment for our campuses, and we are deeply committed to this. Also, do not leave anything out in the open inside your vehicle. When you are in public spaces do not leave your property unattended; always take it with you.
What is something you'd just like to share with campus at this time?
Now is the time for us, as a community, to come together in unity, to be mindful and compassionate to those around us. We all want COVID to be a page in history and not our current reality, but it will take a consistent and responsible effort from each of us to get through this.
My family and I have vowed to look for and create positivity as we go about each day. We may not single-handedly be able to eradicate COVID; however, we can make positive changes in our own lives and strive to lift those around us as well.
What made you want to join UPD?
I wanted to work for a department that embraced community policing. I have coached and mentored youth for much of my adult life and knew I would enjoy working for this department, which offers many opportunities to mentor and serve. Working for UPD has been amazing. Every day offers new and unique challenges and opportunities to help other people.
Do you have any memorable moments you'd like to share from your time at the academy?
My most memorable moment from the academy would have to be from first inspection. My platoon sergeant’s last name was Tcherneshoff. I will never forget our tac officer looking at his name badge for the first time in utter confusion and failing at pronouncing it. He said every other recruit’s name except “Tcherneshoff” and finally, for some reason, settled on calling him “Santa’s Little Helper.” The whole platoon broke out in laughter and had to do so many pushups as a result.
Do you have a recommendation for some binge-worthy media?
During my runs, I enjoy listening to podcasts and audiobooks. I am currently listening to a book called Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute. It is a great book on how to “get out of the box” of self-deception. In short, it discusses putting other people’s needs before our own which can positively influence all aspects of our lives.
If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?
I’ll have to stick with the superpower I wished to have as a kid — the ability to read minds. Sherlock Holmes would have nothing on my investigative skills. I can recall having debates in elementary school of why mind-reading powers were superior to invisibility or being able to fly. I guess I have always wanted to know the truth.
Have there been any mishaps or funny moments at home with your family because of all of the changes with the kids’ schooling?
With both my wife and I working, there have been times when our son has had to be “in class” (virtually) during a car ride. His teacher has nicknamed him one of the “car kids” in his class. One day, my wife did not see my son (who is 8) at his desk when he was supposed to be on a virtual class session. After searching our house she found him under his bed with headphones on participating in the class discussion. His explanation was that he was playing hide-and-seek with our (4-year-old) daughter. Kudos for multitasking?
How are you occupying your time at home now as a family with so many things still closed?
We have always been an outdoors family. Over the last several months we have found ourselves hiking and going on family bike rides or walks more often. Really, anything to get out of the house. I personally have renewed my passion for running and have ventured into trail running. I have spent many early mornings running at Red Rock and Mt. Charleston. I am currently registered to run a 50-kilometer trail race (with COVID restrictions) in November. I enjoy running because it provides a great opportunity for self-reflection while challenging myself at the same time. It also allows me to truly see the landscape of the areas I have run in. Anytime I visit a new city I make it a priority to run while I’m there.