“Public safety is everybody’s business and is an opportunity to work as a team to keep our community safe,” says Jair Kollasch, who joined the Maryville community as director of public safety in December.
Kollasch discovered his passion for public service and helping the community as a young Boy Scout living in Michigan. He recalls his father and uncles having enthusiastic conversations about their work on the law enforcement arena throughout his childhood, and says his calling to be an officer stems from his family.
“Since a young age I was drawn to understand that act of service, that drive for helping others and wanting to be the fair neutral party to resolve problems,” says Kollasch.
His career working as a firefighter launched soon after he graduated from high school. He stepped into the law enforcement realm in 2002 as a conservation officer for the state of Michigan, where he served eight years.
“The main motivator for me is public service,” says Kollasch. “I love what I do, I am passionate about what I do and I take it very personally to make sure that every day I am taking the right steps to keep people safe and educated so we can win through any tough situation.”
Kollasch holds a bachelor’s in social science from Michigan State University. While earning his graduate degree in administration at Central Michigan University, he worked as an undercover narcotics officer for the university’s public safety department. Prior to coming to Maryville, he worked as a commissioned police officer serving as a detective.
He recalls one of his most impactful experiences as a young firefighter, when a man fell through the ice in a frozen lake in Michigan. Kollasch and his team were able to pull him out of the freezing water and treat him for hypothermia. Saving this man’s life made Kollasch understand that officer’s responses to emergencies matter and that their preparedness can make a difference in many situations.
“This is a great example of why it is important for public safety to do prevention training, to have the right equipment and to be prepared to respond to emergencies,” says Kollasch.
One of his main initiatives upon arriving at Maryville was to make the University a storm ready institution—mission accomplished. “The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) certified our practices and our policies for early recognition and early notification for severe weather, whether that is tornadoes, thunderstorms or flash flooding,” Kollasch says.
He also plans to update Maryville’s active violence plan and launch more education and training programs for the campus community.
Kollasch believes implementing new technologies, like providing students with an app to communicate emergencies with the public safety office, is key to ensure the community safety.
In April, the public safety office will bring to campus a driving simulator designed to deter distracted driving by showing the effects of drunk driving and texting while driving.
“It is going to be an interactive simulator where students can really see how quickly things can go bad,” he says.
Kollasch is committed to take his leadership position beyond managing a budget, training officers and keeping the infrastructure up and running. He is interested in building relationships with other police departments, like the city of Town and Country and the Chesterfield police department, along with leading his team to prepare plans of action for any situation that could arise on campus.
“This positon is a great opportunity for leadership that allows me to help develop a team that will be professional, able to respond and be prepared for all different types of situations that could occur and have this university in a state of readiness,” says Kollasch.