Tom Lynch: Striving to keep the campus safe

Tom Lynch, director of the Office of Campus Safety, stands outside his workplace.

Tom Lynch’s job is to make sure students and faculty at Durham College (DC) and Ontario Tech University have a safe environment to work and study.

Lynch is the Director for the Office of Campus Safety for both schools. He is an administrator and works with a team to ensure the campus is ready to respond to emergencies of all kinds.

Before he landed his job at DC, Lynch worked as a Metro Toronto police officer for 30 years.

Lynch is responsible for overseeing emergency preparedness and also public safety and security on campus. He says public safety and security include the current Paragon security personnel on the university and college campus, who are available 24/7.

He also oversees breaching of student conduct and handling non-academic misconduct. This includes stealing, hitting someone or any form of disrespect, he says.

He explained that there are a lot of people on the campus. He also said he would be more afraid if everyone got along perfectly.

“Humans are humans. We don’t always agree. And, sometimes, we don’t always deal with it the right way,” said Lynch.

Instances such as plagiarism and cheating on a test are examples of academic misconduct. This is not a field Lynch deals with.

Lynch also said Shannan Saunders is the manager of Emergency Management. Together, they oversee the Campus Emergency Response Team (CERT).

CERT is made up of volunteer students. The students are trained for emergency response for medical incidents, Lynch said.

He also works with the Emergency Management Response Team (EMRT).

Emergency preparedness is a very important part of Lynch’s job on the campus.

“We are forever honing our skills when it comes to our ability to react to a potential active threat on campus,” he said. Examples he listed were tornadoes or a heavy rainstorm.

According to Lynch, weather can have a huge impact on our campus, especially because of where we are situated in the GTA. Sometimes the campus area gets snowstorms that impact the safety of students and staff, so the campus has to be shut down until the weather clears, Lynch said.

He and the EMRT are also wary of the Oshawa Airport, since planes fly above the campus often.

Lynch’s interest in policing began when he was a student at Markham District High School.

In Grade 11, Lynch took a law class. He was mostly interested in the laws, like the Highway Traffic Act and the Criminal Code.

He graduated from high school in 1979 and enrolled in the two-year law enforcement program at Seneca College. He graduated in 1981 and then was hired by the Toronto Police Service.

While Lynch was still working as a police officer he worked as a part-time professor at DC teaching ethics and policing and criminal deviance. He also taught criminal law.

Lynch knew the previous Director for the Office of Campus Safety – Gary Pitcher – from “policing in Toronto.”

“Gary came to me one day while I was in the hall and said, ‘Hey, I’m moving on, and I think this position would be great for you’.”