Temple safety keeps it all in the family
A brother and sister oversee hundreds of security personnel on Temple’s campuses.
Few siblings are responsible for the safety of more people than Jeff and Tisha Hester.
In their two decades of service for Allied Universal, the two have thwarted infant abductions, camped overnight through blizzards and managed crowds during visits by world leaders and VIPs, including a U.S. president, the Pope, and—a favorite of Jeff’s—an NBA All-Star Game featuring Michael Jordan and a celebrity-dense audience.
“I’m the antsy one, the pitbull,” Tisha said with a laugh in the Public Safety Station office that she shares with her brother at 1513 Cecil B. Moore Ave. “Jeff’s the mild-mannered one, the calm one.”
Jeff, the older of the two, started as a security officer with the company in 1996. A year later, his sister joined him. They’ve since worked up the security ranks, earning the respect of their colleagues and the community along the way.
“When you’re working with your sister, you always want to see her grow and make it,” Jeff said.
And, it turns out, they’ve made it together.
Today, as account managers, the two oversee all of the nearly 400 Allied Universal security personnel who serve the university and the surrounding community at Temple’s Main Campus, Health Science Center and satellite campuses.
This year, Temple University is celebrating 50 years of Campus Safety Services, which includes approximately 215 full-time police officers, in-house security officers and employees who work hand-in-hand with the hundreds of Allied Universal security personnel whom Tisha and Jeff oversee.
Their office hums during the daily afternoon shift change. That’s when their professionals clock in and out for their jobs as building security for Temple’s residential, academic and health system buildings, or as bike security for the area’s streets.
“This is a very dynamic and challenging environment operating 24 hours a day,” their supervisor and district manager, Gene Cummings, said. “We couldn’t be successful here without Jeff and Tisha’s efforts.”
Jeff and Tisha are also responsible for recruiting their staff, which pulls heavily from the surrounding neighborhoods, with many employees able to walk to work.
“Jeff always teases me that I pick up people when I go shopping,” said Tisha, who talks up openings at Allied Universal with any upbeat customer service workers she encounters.
Neighborhood resident Paul Starks is one of her most recent recruits. She made her pitch to him while he was working at a drug store near the station.
Starks is thrilled with his new gig, which he said is “no comparison” to his last job.
“They back up what they say here,” Starks said. “She’s a woman of her word—I respect that.”
Several members of Jeff and Tisha’s team have stayed for a decade or more. And Jeff has been known to drive employees to and from work.
“Whether it’s Tisha and me, my supervisor, or all my officers, we are a family here,” Jeff said. “We need to have one love and work together to keep our students, our staff and the community safe.”
One of the most harrowing days from Tisha’s career came in her first year with the company, when she stopped a child abduction in progress. Joe Garcia, Temple’s deputy director of administration of Campus Safety Services, remembers it vividly.
“This was a very dangerous situation with an enraged guy filled with passion and threatening to hurt a child,” said Garcia, who was captain at the Health Sciences Center at the time. “Tisha put her life on the line for that baby, getting in the elevator with this guy, de-escalating the situation, and slowing him down as university police officers arrived at the scene.”
Garcia said she stopped a nightmare scenario.
“I call her ‘Super Tish,’” he said. “We are forever indebted to Tisha Hester.”
Overhearing him, she replied, “I’m forever dedicated to you guys, too.”
Garcia also has fond memories of creating security drills with Jeff to test staff at opportune times and keep them on their toes.
“Jeff’s favorite of all the exercises that we developed was the infant abduction prevention drill, which we’d conduct at two or three in the morning, and—to make it tougher—always on the eve of a major holiday,” Garcia said.
Both siblings have been recognized by Temple’s Campus Safety Services leadership numerous times over the years, and a photo of Jeff receiving a certificate for his 20 years of service hangs in Tisha’s cubicle.
On just the other side of the cubicle wall, Jeff can’t see his sister as he works on his computer and makes calls to personnel in the field, but he can hear her working too, and he can hear her laugh.