Lucy Wilkinson

Lucy WilkinsonLucy Wilkinson joined the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) on Aug. 5, 1999. Six years later, she was promoted to security officer supervisor. Now, after more than 23 years with the department, Wilkinson will retire July 31. 

“I have always enjoyed helping others. Being a security officer, you get to be mother, father, counselor and therapist,” Wilkinson says with a laugh. “Just saying good morning, good night, having a smile on your face knowing that you can make someone’s day is so important.”

Wilkinson has a wonderful laugh and a passion for the department's comfort K9s, frequently bringing treats and toys to the pups. She has lots of great stories to share from her many years with UMB Police and Public Safety. 

“As a security officer in training, my reporting time was scheduled for 7 a.m. On the third day, I was three minutes late,” she says. Wilkinson was sent to the lieutenant's office. "When I went into his office, he took his glasses off, put them on his desk and wanted to know why I was late. I gave my explanation and he told me, ‘From here on out, you will not arrive for duty late, do you understand what I am saying?‘ From that day on, if I was due in at 7 a.m., and arrived to the station at 6 a.m.”

Beyond being punctual, Wilkinson prides herself on helping other security officers and supporting the University community. As a security officer herself, Wilkinson was posted in the School of Nursing. 

“They would have to show their badge each time they came in. When they did, they received candy. No ID, no candy,” she says. “On exam days, they would come in and look forward to their chocolate fix before exams.”

The bond Wilkinson made with students, faculty, and staff was especially important in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001. Those who knew Wilkinson would talk — sharing stories and struggles — to relieve some stress. 

“It is important for people to understand that as a security officer, we're there for their safety, and policies are there for a reason. But we’re also human beings, and the right thing to do is look out for each other,” Wilkinson says. 

Before joining UMB, Wilkinson worked in the factory industry for 19 years making soles for shoes, making bread, working in a recycling plant, and making government and medical books. She may have even made some of the medical textbooks used by our own School of Medicine students and faculty!

Over the years, a lot has changed within the department. Wilkinson says she faced challenges with learning new technology and figuring out the billing system — but she did conquer them! Another challenge can be taking complaints from unhappy persons — an important but sometimes unpleasant part of the job. Community members using the department’s Safe Ride service are occasionally frustrated by long wait times and building policies. The key is remaining calm and being respectful, she says. 

“Being respectful, honest and fair is what it is all about,” says Wilkinson. “Keeping honest and fair with my integrity has been a mainstay in my life.”

She goes on to say that Safe Ride drivers often have to wait for riders, sit in rush hour traffic, battle inclement weather, and more. “It all plays a part on the waiting times.” Building closures are also a common complaint. “We understand that exams are important, but there is a time the building closes. Our security officers would like to go home, too.”

Lucy WilkinsonWilkinson encourages students, faculty, and staff to be ready when their Safe Ride arrives, which helps reduce wait times for other passengers. Think about the weather, rush hour traffic, major events on campus, or other factors which could increase your wait time.

She also reminds our community to look up! “When I’m walking across campus for post checks, I find that 95 percent of students, staff, and faculty are looking down on their phones and barely look up, even when crossing the street!” she says. Being aware of your surroundings can reduce accidents — like tripping or walking into people or objects — and can help keep yourself and your valuables safe.

As a supervisor, Wilkinson says she never asks her security officers to do something she's not willing to do herself. She helps by relieving security officers for breaks in buildings and on corner assignments. Her giving spirit has made her a popular supervisor.

After retiring at the end of July, Wilkinson will be home taking care of her father. “I love spending time with my lady and am very blessed to be able to take care of my dad, spend time with my daughter, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and let's not forget my three four-legged kids!”

Wilkinson enjoys playing Nintendo (especially Zelda) and playing pool and table tennis. She is an active member of Roman Catholic Womenpriests. She enjoys nature and would like to visit Israel, Ireland, England, and Alaska.

In retirement, she plans to start a small business making heat transfer items, such as tumblers and coffee cups. She enjoys sewing, embroidery, and quilting. In the end, Wilkinson notes, “I’m a country girl at heart.”