Moravian’s campus police force stands at the ready. Front row, from left: Officer Richard Ford, Sergeant Michael Schmittinger, Sergeant Salvatore Cucciuffo, Officer Steven Laubach, Officer Ronald Liburd, Sergeant Rick Howard, Officer Natalie Breiner (2022–2023 Employee of the Year). Back row, from left: Lieutenant Thomas Appleman, Chief Harrison Dillard, Officer Lashana Combs, Officer Mario LoBasso, Officer Robert Obey (has since departed Moravian University Police Department); not present when the photograph was taken: Officer Robert Quezada and newly hired Officer David Strawn.

In Plato’s famous work of political philosophy The Republic, he assigned the most important role to those he called “the guardians,” whose job was protecting not only the city’s citizens and laws but their way of life as well.

Moravian University’s chief of police, V. Harrison Dillard—who has been in that role since January 2022—takes a similar view of Moravian’s police department, protecting not just persons and property but also the flourishing of student life.

“I often talk about two concepts of law enforcement—the warrior versus the guardian mentality,” Dillard says. “If there’s a threat on campus, then you need to go into warrior mode and take care of that threat—but the guardian is the protector of the community, the advocate, the person who is that presence that gives the people a sense of security.”

To that end, one of the protocols Dillard implemented when he started as chief of police was to have his force walk through every single building on campus during every shift.

“The purpose is to be a presence and to give people that sense of security that we’re here for them,” Dillard says. “So whenever there’s a big event on campus—like a basketball game or a concert on our South Campus—we make sure that we’re there.”

There are always at least two officers on duty, and sometimes three, with the department comprising 14 officers with nearly 360 years of combined experience. In addition to Dillard, there is one lieutenant, three sergeants, and nine officers—many of whom are former military and retired state police. 

One of the sergeants, Salvatore “Sal” Cucciuffo, joined Moravian’s department after 26 years of service with the City of Easton Police Department. “I call Sal my ‘Batman,’” Dillard says. “I just laugh at that, because if I go to a bat call, the only thing I’m gonna be able to do is confirm that there’s a bat there. Sal is the bat guy because he’s able to safely catch and then release them.”

As part of the department’s mission to be a fortifying force on campus and not merely a protective one that simply walks the beat, Dillard schedules meet-and-greet sessions in the Haupert Union Building each fall semester where students get a chance to ask questions and get to know the officers personally.

Resident assistants join officers in a group photo after annual RA training in August prior to the start of the fall semester. Later, students joined officers for dinner. Each officer is assigned as a liaison to specific resident halls, and during dinner, the officers sit with the RAs from their assigned buildings so they can get to know each other.

The department also meets regularly with resident assistants for safety training and works with the student life department when they’re teaching students things like how to change a tire on a car, what they should do if they get pulled over, and how to pull over safely.

“We have a captive audience here,” Dillard says. “If they leave here with a better impression of law enforcement, then we’ve done a service to our department, the profession, the community, and the university.

“That’s my philosophy, and I have that conversation with every applicant I hire,” Dillard adds. “We’re just making sure that we’re a presence on campus, engaging with students and making sure that they have everything they need to not only survive but thrive in these college years.”—Steve Neumann