Stanley Stewart: 30 Years on the UMBeat

Stanley Stewart of the Department of Public Safety. - Photo by Carl Brooks

Stanley Stewart of the Department of Public Safety. – Photo by Carl Brooks

Carl Brooks

Familiar face to many and hard to miss when he’s blocking out your sun, UMB police sergeant Stan Stewart celebrates 30 straight years on campus. The vital inside source behind the infamous Mass Media police log, the 6’5″, 280lb Stewart started as a campus cop June 8, 1974, six months after the campus opened. Stewart, 50, now handles the crime reporting and supplies the Mass Media with a brief summary of each logged event from the weeks past. His famous mild temper and giant size usually make him a reassuring presence on campus. A family man with three daughters, Kathleen, Nancy, and Jessica, Stewart plans to retire from UMB. Looking for the man behind the police report, we caught up with Stewart in his office to talk about his three decades at UMB.

Mass Media: Did you start here right out of the academy?

Sgt. Stewart: Yeah, I went right through the academy to here. It was open, I guess, six months before I came.

MM: What was it like back then?

S: It was different. Most of our problems were from the projects.

MM: That was the old Harbor Point?

S: Columbia Point [Columbia Point is now the ritzy Harbor Point Apartments right behind the campus].

MM: So what’s your job? What do you do most of the day?

S: I take care of the paperwork, I do any investigations that need to be done, handle the court cases; I’m the court liaison. I do crime reporting to the state and feds-that’s basically it.

MM: Did you ever think about going anywhere else? What made you stay?

S: Yeah, when I first started, I did. Actually it was just the way things were back then, basically like they are now. I wasn’t a veteran, and back in the 70s, when I worked here, being a white male, being a non-vet, I wasn’t getting off this job.

MM: So you just wouldn’t get on at Boston or wherever?

S: Right. I took the test all the time, I always scored high, but Boston back then… if they hired 400 at a whack I probably could have gotten on, but they never hired a big enough class.

MM: What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen on the campus.

S: I don’t know how to describe that…we’ve had everything up to shootings. In general [it’s pretty quiet] at least as far as the students are concerned.

You know, I’ve seen just about everything here, over 30 years. I’ve been through every kind of court you can think of. Like I say, we’ve had everything just short of a homicide. Overall the biggest problem has been theft from the students. We’ve dealt with a lot stuff, like when we host an outside event. A lot of the stuff over the years, like robberies would be tourists, going back and forth from JFK.

We do, every now and then, experience the more organized groups, but that’s far and few between over here, because we’re so isolated. We’re out of the way, whereas the other schools have the same people going from Northeastern to BU and hitting the whole area downtown.

MM: So working here, how many bosses have you had here?

S: Hmm… actually, four.

MM: So which one was the best one?

S: Oh no. No way! Actually, they’ve all been good. Depends on who you talk to. Ask somebody else, I’m sure, none of them have been any good.

MM: [Outgoing Chancellor Gora], she’s got to be the what, seventh, eighth chancellor you’ve seen?

S: Oh, lord, I really don’t know

MM: Lost count?

S: Yeah, the way they throw in the “interims” and the “actings.” Chancellors come and go.

MM: Over the last 30 years, what was the best time for UMass Boston?

S: It’s just progressed. We’ve got the new campus center, the place has probably never looked better than it does currently. One of the problems over the years was that nothing ever got fixed, or cleaned, but that’s changed somewhat.

MM: [Stewart couldn’t comment on the arrest of Professor Tony Van Der Meer last year]. Other than the Van Der Meer incident, there’s never really been a sense that the campus police were against anybody.

S: I’d tend to agree with you. I don’t get involved in the citizen complaints and stuff, but I would say, compared to any other police departments, we’re pretty low on citizen complaints. Usually the compliant would be the traffic officers; the guy that gives you the ticket gets complained about quite a bit, and the other one would be the guy that’s telling you “sorry, no place to park.” There’s no ticket, but they don’t like being turned away either. But aside from that, we don’t have the kids coming in here making complaints.

MM: So what do you see happening at UMass the next couple of years?

S: Like I said, I think it’s looking up. It’s a great school, my oldest daughter went here and the reason my other two didn’t come here is because I’m here. I know that for a fact; so they’re raising hell at Bridgewater.

MM: Did you ever take classes here?

S: Nope. Didn’t have the time.

MM: Got any regrets staying here for 30 years?

S: No. It’s a good job; the benefits are good

MM: And now you have coyotes to keep you company.

S: We actually have a real coyote. Actually, there’s all sorts of wildlife around, raccoons and skunks. There was a live coyote running around. A guy from the Globe kept calling, wanted to do a story on it. Just as he started that, they started with the phony coyotes – they seem to be working.

MM: What about the harbor? Have you noticed that get any cleaner?

S: Oh yeah. Years ago, it was disgusting out there.