Shepherd believes you can think of safety issues in two ways: Deal with crime after it occurs or try to prevent it from happening in the first place. She does the first, but believes in the latter. In just the past four years, she's proved it by instituting a campus Crime Stoppers program and a campus Community Watch program, as well as educating students on issues of date rape, drug and alcohol awareness, and personal safety.
"An outstanding professional must care about people, and Gay Shepherd clearly does," says District Attorney General William Gibson. "She is totally dedicated to the safety of students at a time when general law enforcement morale is low."
Shepherd serves as the university's liaison with the district attorney's office on a number of fronts associated with crime prevention, in addition to the expected duties of investigating and solving crime. Gibson asked her to expand her efforts in educating area youngsters and adults about child safety by participating in his Child Sexual Abuse Program. Shepherd and other participants tour area schools and churches, teaching adults the warning signs of child sexual abuse. The program also teaches children how to report incidents. In addition, Shepherd serves as an agent on the 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force and will soon move up to a board position.
Task Force Director Bob Terry, a sergeant with the Cookeville Police Department, commends Shepherd for her professionalism and hard work.
"We in law enforcement recognize Tennessee Tech as a community almost in itself," says Terry. "Very early in my career, I learned it was sometimes difficult to know which way to turn or who to contact when a situation arose involving someone in Tech's student population. Chief Shepherd has improved communication between law enforcement, the community it serves, and Tennessee Tech."
Shepherd's resourcefulness has guided the campus police force into new areas. Most recently, she's instituted a bicycle patrol operation, which gets officers in closer contact with students, faculty and staff. She's also added computer technology to the department's arsenal of investigative tools.
Shepherd is a 1995 recipient of the university's Outstanding Staff Award. She's a graduate of its associate-level Criminal Justice program, as well as the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy. Since 1979, when she joined the campus police, she's taken courses in forensics, domestic violence, crime scene investigation and other specialized areas.
Shepherd will receive a plaque and a $1,000 cash award during a ceremony on April 28. The awards program, established in 1993, was created to recognize outstanding professional staff and to accompany existing awards programs for faculty and clerical and support staff. Last year's winner was Don Williams of the Manufacturing Center.