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Chauncey’s Champion Someone making a difference.

CCU Public Safety Officer helping the community one bike at a time

by Nicole Pippo Bookmark and Share
As an avid cyclist, Valenti was involved in the Earth Day event, which included a bike rally, on Prince Lawn in spring 2018.
As an avid cyclist, Valenti was involved in the Earth Day event, which included a bike rally, on Prince Lawn in spring 2018.

Law enforcement officers are tasked with keeping students, faculty and staff safe at all times on campus. Steven Valenti, police officer for CCU’s Department of Public Safety, takes it to the next level.

“Officer Valenti can often be found patrolling campus on his bike, helping locate stolen bikes, sharing his knowledge with those around him through educational efforts, and even donating abandoned bikes on campus to local homeless shelters,” said Elizabeth Javener, outdoor recreation coordinator for University Recreation.

A certified bike patrol officer and an avid cyclist, Valenti is involved with Coastal Recycles, CCU’s free bike rental program for students, faculty and staff. Valenti works closely with Javener, who coordinates Coastal Recycles. Javener nominated Valenti as a Chauncey’s Champion after they worked together on bike management issues such as stolen bikes and bike safety.

“Public safety officers are so busy, so it’s super rare for him to make this a priority,” Javener said. “He is such a hard worker. He’s like a duck above water: The duck looks calm but its feet are going a million miles per hour.”

In Javener's nomination, she explained, "Officer Valenti embodies the five charactertics of a Chauncey's Champion: he goes above and beyond in his interactions, is honest, is very swift in his responsiveness, acts with assurance and provides this in his interactions with others, shows empathy and always serves others."

Valenti keeps track of bikes that are abandoned on campus. This year, there was a larger number of abandoned bikes than usual. Rather than the typical 40 to 50 abandoned bikes, there were more than 140 bicycles collected at the end of the Spring 2018 semester.

Those bikes are usually left on the side of the road, in stairways or on the racks scattered around campus and at University Place. Most often, bikes are simply left by students who don’t return them before leaving for their breaks at the end of the semester.

Public Safety at CCU usually coordinates with local nonprofits organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club and the Shiners Club, to donate the abandoned bikes. But Valenti said the organizations did not have a need for all those bikes.

Coincidentally, at the beginning of this summer, sociology professor Sara Brailler approached Public Safety with an idea of how those abandoned bikes could make a positive impact in the community. As a part of their research at New Directions, a homeless shelter in Myrtle Beach, Brailler and fellow sociology professor Stephanie Southworth discovered a need among the homeless population for transporation to and from work. 

“After talking with my lieutenant, David Klauder, we felt that it would be best to donate the bikes to the homeless,” said Valenti.

With that decision, the Rolling Forward project got a boost, and all the abandoned bikes were stored and transported to New Directions on July 20. Valenti, along with his son Spencer, age 16, loaded the bikes on trucks en route to the shelter.

“Rolling Forward is a good program. Hopefully these bikes make a difference and help those who are willing to help themselves," Valenti said.

Valenti’s efforts make the Coastal Recycles program an effective system. This year, he brainstormed with Javener ways to create a solution to the growing issue of bike thefts. They decided to create a crew to handle repossessions for those who don’t lock their bikes. It’s a good fix; previously the Coastal Recycles program had roughly 40 stolen, compared to only around eight this past spring semester.

Originally from the New York and Connecticut areas, Valenti started his public safety career as a fire dispatcher in 1997, then worked as a 911 public safety dispatcher. In 2001, he became a public safety officer for Western Connecticut State University. Valenti joined the CCU family in April 2005 as a law enforcement officer for CCU’s public safety department.

“CCU is family to me. Being a police officer and working 12-hour shifts, I almost spend more time here than I do with my own family. We have a lot of amazing people in our CCU community.

Valenti’s love affair with cycling dates back to his childhood. His mother did not have her driver’s license, and his father worked two jobs. Growing up, Valenti rode his bike all over town, even chasing fire trucks down the road. When he became a public safety officer for Western Connecticut State University, Valenti was given an opportunity to take the International Police Mountain Bike Association Bike Patrol class. Valenti also took the Law Enforcement Bike Association Class when he moved to South Carolina. Since participating, Valenti’s interest in cycling has led him to the development of the CCU police bike patrol training program, providing instruction to police and EMS agencies across the region.

Valenti is also a certified firefighter and volunteer with Horry County Fire Rescue and a licensed pyrotechnician. “Yes, I get paid to shoot off fireworks," joked Valenti.

Valenti’s family moved to the Palmetto state from Connecticut in 2004. His family includes his wife of 19 years, Heather, and their four children: Tori, Trevor, Sofi and Spencer. His daughter Sofi follows in his footsteps, serving as a volunteer firefighter for Horry County Fire Rescue.

As a family man, public servant and thoughtful citizen, Valenti has a positive impact wherever life takes him. His service to campus, students and the community is far from unnoticed by those around him.

For more information about Rolling Forward, click here.

Chauncey’s Service Excellence Champions are University employees (faculty or staff) who perform service-oriented actions that go above and beyond their job duties and that meet at least one dimension of service quality. These employees are recognized for outstanding performance and embody the Feel the Teal initiative. To nominate someone for Chauncey’s Champion, visit coastal.edu/feeltheteal, fill out the form and submit it. Approved nominees will receive an exclusive Chauncey’s Champion gift as well as consideration for additional recognition. View all the Chauncey’s Champions at coastal.edu/feeltheteal/champions/champs.php.

Related Photos

This past Memorial Day Weekend, Valenti joined bike patrol officers from all over the southeast to patrol Myrtle Beach, including six CCU officers. Valenti has been married to his wife, Heather, for 19 years. They have 4 children and two grandchildren. As an avid cyclist, Valenti was involved in the Earth Day event, which included a bike rally, on Prince Lawn in spring 2018.
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