When Joe Means got up this morning, he donned a Grizzlies hat and white sweats in lieu of his badge and bullet proof vest. While the 26-year-old is a Public Safety patrol officer, just over a month into his training, he doesn’t feel as if his current job changes who he is when he goes on patrol.
“We’re people too,” Means said. Means was born into a military family in Germany but grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. While German wasn’t his first language, it seems like football runs through his veins. Not only did he play ball while he was in high school, but he was known as “Mean Joe” when he was a defensive back for the Wonder Boys.
And when the Tech alum came back to Russellville, he said the atmosphere was a determining factor in where he would look for work.
“It’s a family here,” Means said. Family is something Means not only values but is well acquainted with; he’s the youngest boy from a five-child family.
“Even now, he’s still trying to put rules down. I’m like, ‘dad, I’m grown. I’m really grown.’”
With his own family started and growing, Means reflected on the kind of father and role model he is and wants to be to his children.
“I try to be like my dad, in the sense he was always helping us and he was always helping others.”
That mentality of service has stuck with Means since he was a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club in 2008, and is one of the reasons why he got into Public Safety in the first place. “I always wanted a job where I could be helping someone,” Means said.
“I like this job, or any other policing job, where you can interact with the community. It’s kind of like giving back.”
Whether Means is cringing as a student speeds past Baz Tech or fist bumping a fellow student, its evident service and connection is something he’s striving for.
“I’m here to help with anything, from questions about police to math,” Means said. “I’m going to do what I can to help.”
Means’ first plan of assistance?
Deepening that connection between the students and on-campus officers.
“I don’t want the students to have a fear of the police,” Means said. “Even when I was at Tech, I never saw a Public Safety officer at an intramural game, and that’s something I want to change. I’m here for you; I’m supporting you.”
Means is, and will be, a presence on the Tech campus, in and out of uniform.
“When I’m in the uniform, I kind of get the crazy eye like I’m up to something,” Means said. “I’m not up to anything; I’m still Joe Means.”