By Chris Cunningham
The Scene staff
Changes in St. Louis Community College law enforcement will give more responsibility to two familiar faces at Forest Park.
Police officer Adis Becirovic is joining Mark Williams as a co-lieutenant.
“Sure, there is a redundancy of information, but we like to make sure no one can say, ‘Nobody told me,’” said Forest Park Police Chief Richard Banahan.
Banahan’s job also is changing. He will oversee law enforcement not only on the Forest Park campus, but also at STLCC’s Florissant Valley campus, Cosand Center, Harrison Center and Corporate College.
Mark Potratz, STLCC director of public safety and emergency management, reorganized law enforcement throughout the district to follow recommendations in a security study commissioned by the college in 2013.
Banahan said the study was a reaction to a Meramec incident involving a man assaulting a woman in a women’s restroom earlier that year. The incident prompted the resignations of several officials, including Meramec Police Chief Paul Banta.
Banahan said the reorganization creates extra layers of supervision.
“The more eyes you have on a situation, the better the outcome,” he said.
Williams and Becirovic will be responsible for scheduling officers for work shifts, reading reports, maintaining equipment and performing other management tasks.
Becirovic, 31, grew up in war-torn Bosnia. He moved to St. Louis when he was 16.
“In Bosnia, we didn’t have anything,” he said. “It was a war zone. But being in America, everything is possible. That’s why we came here.”
The most difficult part of immigrating to the United States was the language barrier. He spoke no English.
Becirovic graduated from Roosevelt High School in St. Louis in 2001. His dream was to become a police officer, but he had to become a U.S. citizen first.
Becirovic earned a certificate in resident medical assistance from Missouri College in 2004 and worked in emergency rooms for several years. He began taking classes at Forest Park in 2005 and got his associate’s degree in criminal justice in 2008.
“The experience I got from (in emergency rooms) helps in my work as a police officer when cases involve injuries,” he said.
Becirovic became a citizen in 2007 and began attending the St. Louis Police Academy. He worked for the Belleville (Ill.) Police Department before joining the Forest Park staff in 2010.
Becirovic has a wife and two small children. He said the FBI once was interested in hiring him because of his bilingual skills, but he turned the job down because he enjoyed working at Forest Park and living in St. Louis.
“From my first day at STLCC, I felt like this was something I need to be doing and that this was my home,” he said.
One of Becirovic’s priorities is creating a safe environment at the college.
“I lived through war,” he said. “If you aren’t comfortable, you can’t memorize too many things.”
In his free time, Becirovic plays soccer and spends time with his family.
Williams, 54, graduated from Cleveland ROTC High School in 1979. He held a series of jobs, ranging from loading dock worker to bus driver to 911 operator.
“There were a lot of prank phone calls (to 911), but the job was fascinating,” he said.
Williams attended the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Academy and began working at Forest Park in 1984. He made lieutenant eight years ago.
“Every day at Forest Park is different,” he said. “I like the people, the atmosphere and co-workers.”
One of Williams’ most vivid memories at Forest Park was when a riot broke out in the late 1980s.
“They had a bunch of high school students come up for a job fair,” he said. “We had to call up the St. Louis police department. They showed up by motorcycle, car and horse.”
Williams and his wife, Marcy, have two children, Sereena, 27, and Mark Jr., 24. In his free time, he throws darts, sings karaoke and rides motorcycles.
“I like the freedom of the air around you,” he said.