Inside Iowa State
March 8, 1996
DPS officer bound for Olympics
by Anne Dolan
The stiff competition for spectator tickets isn't keeping Tera Hansen from the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta this summer. Hansen, a patrol officer and eight-year veteran of the department of public safety, has been selected for a volunteer force that will lead security teams in the Olympic Village during the Games.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Hansen said. "Who knows when the Olympic Games will come around to this country again. Could I go then?"
Hansen was selected from an applicant pool of 8,700 law enforcement professionals. An estimated 2,000 -- representing 46 countries -- will serve, many in two-week stints. Hansen has volunteered for the maximum five-week assignment, quite a chunk of time when the competition itself runs for just 10 days.
The cost to her is round-trip airfare and the depletion of all her accrued vacation at the university. She will be provided with a uniform, lodging and meals during the five weeks.
The idea of enlisting law enforcement professionals as volunteer leaders at an Olympiad is a first, according to Jerry Cogan, manager of the Atlanta security team program. In the past, countries have paid national police units to provide security to Olympic athletes and venue sites. In fact, Cogan said many of the Atlanta volunteers have worked at Olympiads in their home countries. The team includes county sheriffs, campus and city police officers and even national police force executives.
A training video and workbook will arrive in Hansen's mail sometime next month. While she'll learn more about the specifics of her duties as July approaches, generally she knows she will oversee security volunteers at the competition sites, in the athletes' living quarters or in transporting athletes.
"This is a great people-meeting opportunity and I love to meet people," Hansen said. In addition to athletes and visitors, she said she's looking forward to working with police officers from all over the country. In her on-the-job experiences at Iowa State and in volunteer positions, Hansen has assisted with local events, such as the Iowa Special Olympics, Iowa Games, Midnight Madness (a road race) and Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, which draws 14,000 participants and spectators to campus from around the world.
"I just loved working OM. It was a great multicultural experience and a chance to meet people from all over the country and the world. One year, the team from Colorado adopted me as its personal officer," Hansen recalled.
Hansen has worked the 3:30 to 11 p.m. shift all her years at Iowa State. "It's hard on family life, but I like that shift because there's more involvement with students that time of day," she said.
Ten years ago, the Nebraska native thought her career was headed in another direction. Hansen and her new husband arrived in Ames in the summer of 1985 to work on graduate degrees. With an eye on teaching high school English, she studied American literature. That fall, Hansen was hired as a deputy in the now-defunct sheriff's department of the University Student Apartment Community. It was a part-time, student job intended to give her and her husband some income.
The USAC sheriff's department was dismantled in the fall of 1987, but Hansen stayed on as a security staff member until March 1988, when she was hired by the department of public safety. She completed the 10-week training course at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, Johnston, in May 1989.
Her interest in teaching hasn't disappeared. She recently completed a one-week training program to become a certified field training officer. She is one of six on the DPS staff who can train new hirees about everything from the equipment in a squad car to department regulations to the layout of the university.
But her focus these days is learning -- learning as much as she can about the Summer Games and what will be expected of her during the five-week assignment.
Not everyone would be excited about a "vacation" that consists of eight-hour shifts six days a week in the Atlanta humidity in July, but Hansen is thrilled about the opportunity.
"When I mailed in the application, I remember thinking, 'Yeah, right, so they're going to choose me.' When that letter came, I was pretty excited."
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