Mentorship leads to passion for law enforcement career

May 02, 2016

Fettig and Schouten

As Carley Fettig prepares to march across the stage at spring commencement, she's also getting ready to bid adieu to a department that ignited a life's passion — and a mentor who nurtured it.

Fettig, a psychology major from Elkhorn, Wisconsin, serves as a University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Campus Service Officer — a non-sworn employee trained by police to provide patrol and safety measures to students, staff, faculty and visitors.

Lt. Faye Schouten, a 32-year law enforcement veteran, is Fettig's mentor.

"We don't limit CSO employment to criminal justice majors — we've had business students, art students. We are generalists, and when they graduate, they've had experience working with diverse populations. It's about being there, helping educate the campus community and learning to be service-orientated. That's what we want to see in law enforcement."

CSOs work at dances and other campuswide events, "maintaining presence."

When the Warhawk football team hosts at Perkins Stadium — the largest venue in Division III — CSOs assist with security and crowd management.

Clad in fluorescent reflective gear, they work the busier crosswalks on campus to ensure safe passage and smooth traffic flow for pedestrians and drivers alike.

There's a wide array of communication skills to master — over the radio, person to person — and of course, the ten-codes.

They conduct license plate lookups and rounds of building checks, and help maintain the police department's equipment.

And when the Wisconsin winters freeze car batteries in the streets and parking lots, CSOs are at the ready with jumper cables and portable chargers.

It may be an immersive learning laboratory, Schouten says, but students are left with little edge in the competitive job market if they don't know how to express the knowledge and experience they gained.

"That's why we do mock interviews with students, focusing heavily on decision making and problem solving. We work through applications and the importance of communicating experience that reflects leadership, teamwork, honesty and integrity," Schouten said. "That's what puts them above other applicants."

Thanks to the department's connections, CSOs are able to network extensively with officers across Wisconsin.

Fettig has joined a cadet program in the City of Whitewater, interned in Lake Geneva, gone on a ride-along in Madison, and attended conferences.

She recently worked on a historical project for the Wisconsin Association of Women Police in which she catalogued and digitized archival records going back a generation.

"As a woman leaving the profession, it's so meaningful to have someone from a younger generation understand the past and how women before Carley paved the way," said Schouten, who is retiring from the force this semester. "It's been a different journey."

Fettig is grateful for Schouten's mentorship, and hopes to make a difference in whatever community she serves in the future.

"I'd don't know where I'd be with out Lt. Schouten. I don't think I'd have the passion or the drive. People at this police department truly take students under their wings."


Jeff Angileri

Sara Kuhl