Officer Pete Coffey balances schoolwork and security duties


By Alina Zwart, Contributor

He is trained to do more than dispatch calls about locked-in keys and jump-start cars, but 25-year-old Pete Coffey does it with pride.

“People know you’re just a rent-a-cop and think, ‘well what can you do?’” Coffey said. “It can be aggravating.”

Coffey spent four years as a military police officer in the Marine Corps before he was honorably discharged and began securing the UNO cam-pus. Once he left the military, Coffey moved back to Omaha, enrolled at UNO as an undergraduate student and began working overtime as a security guard to help pay for school.

“Balancing it all is hectic,” said Coffey, with a red beard and an almost always serious face. “I wouldn’t even call it balance. I look at it as how quickly I can get this done to get balance.”

Coffey grew up in Kinderhook, Upstate New York. He moved to Omaha in 2001, where he eventually met his wife, Abby Coffey, at his community church before he was stationed in Okinawa, Hawaii. They married this past August and are expecting their first child this summer.

Coffey faces a busy year, as he also plans to enroll in graduate school in the fall for criminal justice.

A typical shift starts out with a brief-ing, then an assignment of what area of campus he will patrol. After that, he responds to calls on dispatch, Coffey said.

He switched from working overnights to day shifts because it works better with his class schedule. With his AM radio set on his favorite conservative talk shows, he drives and patrols his section of the campus with frequent double takes around his area and an occasional hand wave at pedestrians.

“I’m ‘west’ today. I have everything from Strauss and over,” Coffey said after doing a radio check with the dispatcher on a sunny April afternoon.

“Usually all of the good calls are on overnights” Coffey said. “The mischief is decreased during the day shift, but it’s always just dependent on the nature of the call.”

After he graduates, Coffey plans to work in criminology, whether it be as a field agent, an insurance fraud investigator or a member of the Nebraska State Patrol.

“My top priority isn’t my career, it’s to support my family.” Coffey said. “Private sector, federal level, state level, I’ll take it.”

Photo by Alina Swart Coffey spent four years as a military police officer before coming to UNO.
Photo by Alina Swart Coffey spent four years as a military police officer before coming to UNO.