Crime Prevention Officer is an Andy Griffith Fan

Eric Hester inspired by 1960s TV series featuring small-town policing

Eric Hester, crime prevention officer at Duke, with a replica of a Pepsi Cola sign painted by his father and grandfather in the summer of 1944. The original sign was painted on the north wall of Mangum Warehouse on Rigsbee Avenue in Durham. Photo by Mars

Name:Eric Hester 

Position: Crime Prevention Officer

Years at Duke:  5 

What I do at Duke: People often feel that there is nothing they can do about crime, or that crime is someone else's responsibility. Here at Duke, we believe safety is a shared responsibility, so I spend a lot of time doing orientation for new employees and making presentations to departments. I try to raise awareness of the importance of eliminating easy opportunities for crime and how important it is to call the police if you see anything unusual. Duke is a relatively safe campus, but by working together, we can make it even safer. 

My first paid job: I worked for Witherspoon Rose Culture in Durham when I was 15. I helped take care of rose gardens all around town.  Now I enjoy maintaining a rose garden at my own home.  

What I do when I'm not at work: I am involved in a prison ministry through North Ridge Bible Chapel in Raleigh.  It is a correspondence program with 49 Bible study courses. My wife and I stuff envelopes, send completed tests back to the inmates, send extra literature if they request it, and make certificates when they complete tests. It is exciting to see them go through the journey and be thinking about how it might affect their lives when they get out. 

What I love about Duke: I enjoy the Citizen's Police Academy. It is fun to link people together from different parts of the University and Medical Center that might not otherwise meet. And I know that the people who finish the eight-week academy will take helpful information back to their departments. 

The best advice I've received:  My wife of 37 years often reminds me not to get bogged down on little things. Keep going forward. 

Something unique in my office: I have a sign that my father painted of a Pepsi-Cola logo from the 40s.  My father was a commercial artist in Durham.  He and my grandfather used to paint signs on buildings. A few years ago, he painted a replica of a building sign that had been on a warehouse on Rigsbee Avenue so that I could have it.   

My favorite movie: I don't go to movies.  But I am an Andy Griffith Show buff. It's the only TV cop show I watch.  I love the small town value of a sheriff that can keep the peace without carrying a weapon. 

If I had $5 million, I would:  Invest it in different ministries for children, prison inmates, and animal rescue missions.  

A memorable moment at Duke: I worked in Cameron Indoor Stadium when the men's basketball team was playing the national championship game in 2010.  It was so noisy I called my wife and said `you've got to hear this' and held up the phone.  It was incredible to see and feel the enthusiasm of everyone there. 

To start a conversation with me, ask about: My faith.  When you've found something that makes a difference, you want to share it.

Something most people don't know about me: I studied music for a year at Liberty University. When I worked for the Durham police, I started a police choir.