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Safety, security and some music: Officer Sonny Toscano shares his life beyond the badge

April 27, 2017

Eliza Graumlich
IT'S ALWAYS SONNY: Bowdoin Security Officer Sonny Toscano has worked at Bowdoin for just over three years. Over the years, he has mastered a variety of other jobs and hobbies including working in retail, being a firefighter and playing five instruments.

As students flock to the Brunswick Quad and Farley Field House in celebration of Ivies this weekend, members of the Office of Safety and Security will follow—and among them will be officer Sonny Toscano.

A New Jersey native, Toscano has been working at the College for a little over three years. Before moving to Maine, he attended Glassboro State (now called Rowan University), worked as a retail manager for 20 years and as a fireman for 10. Ever since he came to Maine, Toscano wanted a job at Bowdoin. He said he appreciates the campus, the students and the people who work on and visit campus. When a job opened up with Bowdoin Security, he jumped at the chance to apply.

Toscano is a music lover whose love is not restricted to any one genre. He plays five instruments—guitar; trumpet; trombone; baritone saxophone; and he is learning the keyboard.

“I’m a music nut,” he said. “I wasn’t a music major—I was a business major—but I studied a lot of music because I was able to take the classes, and they were amazing. From theory to history, it was awesome.”

Though Toscano is not currently in a band, he enjoys both playing with his older brother—who often plays gigs—and playing by himself.

“I don’t think I have a favorite [genre] because I could be sitting here talking to you and listening to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and then two minutes later I’m listening to Metallica, [and then] a couple minutes later I put on Mozart, or [am] playing any one of them. And then 20 minutes later I put on country.”

He mentioned The Highwaymen—a country supergroup made up of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson—as one of his favorite bands.

Toscano built his own house in Bowdoin, Maine, where he currently lives with his mother. His older brother recently moved up from New Jersey with his family, and Toscano hopes his younger brother will follow.

Job responsibilities for a Security officer vary a great deal depending on which shift an officer works. There are three Security shifts over each 24-hour period: the first shift runs from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., the second from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and the third from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Especially when working the later shifts, Toscano tries to keep in mind that while he may just be starting his workday, the same is not true for students.

“I get that mindset where sometimes when I’ve worked third shift, I figure you guys have had a whole day and everything and I’m coming in at the beginning of mine, when you call for something whether it’s help or just a simple thing as a lock out,” he said. “A lot of people say to me, ‘Oh I forgot my key!’ and I’m like ‘Pfft, don’t worry about it. You’ve been at school all day long, who knows what you were doing after it, it’s [11 p.m.] at night, you don’t have to explain it to me, don’t worry about it.’”

Most of the calls Toscano receives, especially on weekdays, are residential admittances—someone being locked out of their dorm.

“That’s the kind of call I never mind going on, because nobody’s in trouble. Nobody’s hurt, nobody’s in trouble, nobody’s sick,” he said.

While it is Toscano’s and other Security officers’ jobs to make sure students follow College policy, their primary goal is always to keep students safe.

Toscano said his least favorite part of his job is writing tickets to students who violate policy.

“A lot of people come over and they’re like ‘Ah, you wrote me a ticket!’ It’s not a happy thing to me. It’s something that’s one of those necessary evils. Some people realize it and it gets taken care of and some people don’t, and I don’t like that part of it,” he said.

“I like to be able to help people,” he continued. “When we get a health and wellness check and I’m the one that’s able to be the person that’s calm to be able to help somebody, and knowing that I did help somebody, that’s an amazing thing—an amazing feeling. I know that I can pretty much handle anything, you know, and I know that I can pretty much stay calm doing it, and that makes a major difference.”

In a sharp contrast to his own college experience, Toscano has always found that the relationship between Security and Bowdoin students is a good one—and he hopes to keep it that way.

“When I was in college it was insane. The police department, if it was a Friday or Saturday night, they were there constantly, and it’s just hard to sort of be when that is. Here I think people have a lot more respect,” he said. “There’s a respect between us, between [students] and us. We hold that very high and we hope that you do, because that means a lot to us. To know that you can call us for anything—it may not be a good thing, but we will respect you.”

While one might think that Ivies would be a Security officer’s worst nightmare, Toscano actually says he does not mind it. In some ways Ivies weekend is easier to manage because most students are concentrated in the same place.

“I like [Ivies]. I think it’s pretty cool. I think the whole idea of the Ivies is pretty cool. To tell you the truth I don’t mind doing Ivies, we just make sure we staff it properly,” he said. “You got to have the right attitude, it’s Ivies, it’s a fun thing—it should be fun! And things do happen, but things happen on a Thursday or Friday night that’s not Ivies.”

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