I Spy Someone making a difference.
Carrying on the family tradition of public serviceby Mona Prufer
Phillip Moore likes to remind people that the students who get into trouble aren't criminals at all; rather, they are young people who sometimes – like many of us – make bad choices or mistakes.
"When they make a mistake or show bad judgment, we try to steer them back on the path to graduation," says Moore, who is major of operations in the Department of Public Safety at Coastal Carolina University. "We try to minimize the impact of that occasional bad choice, and I think we do that successfully most of the time," he says. "It's a pleasure to police the young people who really want to be here."
As an officer on the Spartanburg police force, Moore worked for 12 years in a high crime area dealing with people who didn't want to be there. Many were down on their luck, jobless and/or homeless with drug or alcohol abuse issues or all the above.
"It was a major adjustment, coming here," says Moore, who was hired in 2007 by then CCU public safety chief Greg Weisner, a former police chef at Spartanburg Methodist College. "I had reached a point, after 12 years, that I needed a change. So it was a good, positive adjustment."
As major of operations in the department, Moore is the "go-to guy" for the shift lieutenants who might have a problem. "They call me whether it's 2 in the afternoon or 2 in the morning and I will help them work it out," he says. Moore likes to focus on community-oriented policing, building trust between the department and the University community. For instance, the annual COPS Cookout with new students in August gives students access to the officers in a friendly setting.
He also points with pride to technological advances the department has made, from new police cars, new in-car video cameras and programs that allow students to register their bikes and other valuables, especially electronics, in case of theft. "We've recovered one stolen bicycle because the student registered his bike on our website," says Moore.
An important upcoming improvement will be an update of the camera surveillance system on campus. "This will be a major upgrade," says Moore. "We are getting bids now. We've come a long way, and there's still ways to go."
Moore grew up in Columbia and decided to go into law enforcement after volunteering with the City of Spartanburg Public Safety Department as a reserve police officer. He attended Spartanburg Methodist College for two years before earning a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of South Carolina-Spartanburg. He started his career as an animal control officer and later became a patrolman. Over the course of his career in Spartanburg, he worked as a field training officer teaching new recruits, field training program coordinator and a shift supervisor.
Moore's grandfather, Marvin (Cliff) Moore Sr., who worked for the South Carolina Public Service Commission as an inspector/transport policeman and as a 43-year volunteer for the Kingstree Fire Department, was a major inspiration for Moore. "He was a big part of my decision to go into public service," says Moore, who wears his grandfather's police whistle clipped to his uniform.
In addition to being the "go-to guy" for his department, Moore is also the "go-to guy" for many on campus who run out of superlatives when describing him.
"He's dedicated and hardworking, and he really has Coastal and the students at heart," says Stacie Bowie, vice president and chief finance officer. "He never complains; he is an ideal employee."
Weisner, who is now director of environmental health and safety on campus, describes Moore as "the proverbial Boy Scout." And, in fact, Moore was a Boy Scout who attained Eagle rank, the highest achievement of scouting. (He still carries his Eagle Scout card from 1987 in his wallet .)
"Phillip is the most honest guy I know," says Weisner. "He is genuine; what you see is what you get with him. There is no pretense. He does his homework, and he leaves something better than he found it. He truly believes in doing what's right, which is uncommon in today's world."
Jennifer Packard and Chyrel Stalvey, who work in the President's Office, describe Moore as responsive, calm and positive.
"You can call at a moment's notice, and he will take care of things," says Stalvey. "He's dependable and always walks that extra mile. He is always positive, even in situations that might be negative."
Kathy Watts, administrative specialist, enjoys working with Moore because "he's always so optimistic, and he takes care of things. And not just with administrators, but with students, faculty and staff. His 'can-do' attitude is awesome."
Moore and his wife Tonya live with their two children – Chandler, 11, and Charity, 9 – in Galivants Ferry. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his family in outdoor activities such as traveling and boating.