Mason Security depends heavily on the security guards who work to maintain an atmosphere of safety and peace throughout the university, especially in residential areas.

James L. McCarthy is the Director of Security for Mason. He is in charge of the university’s entire security force, not only at the Fairfax campus but also at the Arlington and Prince William campuses.

Mason Security is technically a division of the Mason Police Department, which has been a nationally accredited law enforcement agency since 1991, according to the department’s official website.

In addition to security and patrol officers, it includes police officers, investigators, communications officers and even a LGBTQ liaison officer who serves to facilitate the department’s relationship with the LGBTQ community at Mason.

Overall, the Mason Police Department functions much in the same way as any other law enforcement agency. In fact, McCarthy said Mason Police work hand-in-hand with other police departments in the area, most notably those in the City of Fairfax, Arlington, Fairfax County and Prince William County.

Based in the security operations center of the Mason Police Department, the security guards themselves have a vast range of responsibilities.

In addition to conducting active patrols of the university campus both at night and during the day, they monitor the cameras and alarms scattered about campus, make sure to lock the doors to various buildings at night and keep their eyes and ears open for strange behavior.

In order to join Mason Security, officers are generally expected to have some previous experience in security, and they undergo not only an interview but also a polygraph test and an extensive background check; a clean criminal record is a must for applicants.

Although members of the Mason Police Department are trained in a variety of areas, from crowd control to crisis intervention, McCarthy says that by far the most prolific incident or crime that occurs at the university is theft.

McCarthy is completely aware of the immense responsibilities that come with being a security officer, even in a seemingly harmless place such as a university in Northern Virginia.

“I’m the director of security, so I have to keep the all students, teachers and employees at the university safe,” said McCarthy, when asked about the most rewarding part of his job.=

He also advises people to help themselves by simply being aware of their surroundings, regardless of whether they are on campus or off. “Be alert,” he said. “That is the best defense.”