Woman on a mission

Make friends, fight crime: All in a day’s work for Kandy Knowles

By Jessica Hubble | Lariat Staff Writer

Kandy Knowles, the Baylor Police Department’s crime prevention officer, is well-known in the Baylor community and has deep connections with students. Students, eager to talk to Knowles as she makes her way around campus on her bicycle, often call out to her from across the street and stop her in the store to introduce her to their family and friends.

Of all the issues she deals with on campus, sexual assault prevention is something that is very close to Knowles’s heart and something she is very passionate about.

Knowles herself is a sexual assault survivor. She was assaulted while in college. Even though no two people have the same experience with sexual assault, Knowles said it is still important to talk to someone who can understand.

In addition to having conversations with students, Knowles teaches them the self defense program PPCT-Sharp. She has taught the program in freshman dorms and to faculty members. Knowles said the program helps build confidence, which she thinks is important for freshmen.

Yazoo City, Miss., freshman Ariel White lives in one of the dorms where Knowles taught a PPCT-Sharp class. White participated and said she thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from the program.

“The physical stuff they taught us was good, but the other things they taught us [were] the bigger part of the lesson,” White said. “Like if you’re going somewhere at night, don’t go alone. Don’t walk with your head down and pay attention to your surroundings.”

White said as she walks to class she will look down or look at her phone until she remembers Knowles saying that someone can come out of nowhere and prey on people not paying attention. White said the reminder helps her to look up and stay aware.

White said Knowles also taught her ways to ask for help, and that if something does happen it is never the victim’s fault.

Knowles said any group on campus can email her at Kandy_Knowles@baylor.edu to set up a time for her to teach self-defense.

Knowles’ time teaching students comes out of a long time spent in the Waco community.

Knowles grew up in Waco and went to Midway High School. She went on to McLennan Community College on a scholarship to play basketball.

After college, Knowles married and became a mother to two daughters, Summer and Autumn. While at Baylor, Knowles also adopted two children, River and Daisy. Knowles also bought and ran an after-school daycare and Christian children’s center that also did summer programs. Knowles has been strong in her faith her whole life, so being a children’s church pastor and youth director came naturally to her.

Knowles volunteered in victim services with Waco for three years. It was her time in victim services that prompted her to

become a police officer.

“I just had a heart to help people all the time. That’s just how God made me,” Knowles said. “It’s a gift of helps. It was very natural for me to go into victim services.”

Knowles said she got tired of being called by victims after the crime had already happened. She decided to go to the police academy so she could prevent things from happening and educate citizens about how to be safe and protect themselves.

After going to the police academy, Knowles worked in the Waco Police Department and visited all the schools in Waco to speak with students about personal safety. Knowles said she loved the experience of speaking into students’ lives. She has brought that love to her position at the Baylor Police Department as well.

She has worked for the Baylor Police Department for six years now. She was on patrol for about a year before she took on the new position of crime prevention officer.

“Crime prevention programs are delivered with facts and strategies to provide campus constituents with full awareness of the dangers posed to the Baylor community, as well as the tools to take the necessary actions to prevent and address those dangers,” said the Baylor Department of Public Safety’s website.

As crime prevention officer, Knowles holds many different types of training for students, faculty and staff. These include self-defense and active shooter trainings. Knowles said the trainings often get people talking about things that need to be done and trained on, which spurs even more new trainings or programs.

“There are so many different types of crimes, so in order to prevent it you have to be so many different things,” Knowles said. “You have to be a cheerleader, the person who is the rule giver and the rule enforcer.”

Knowles continues to work with the Waco Police Department as well because the majority of crimes students experience happen off campus. The Crime Free Multi-Housing Program is an example of a program that was created in conjunction with Waco Police Department to help keep students safe.

Knowles said she is around for information and support, as well as to create “community contacts” that will contribute to crime prevention on and off  campus.

Knowles has many connections with students and often has coffee or lunch with them to talk about what is going on in their lives or things they need help with. Knowles said she often has people stop her around campus to talk, and parents email her to tell her how much their students have learned from her.

Knowles said she loves working with college students and gets sad when they’re gone during their vacations. She said there is an energy on campus that gives her a sense of joy as soon as students come back.

Knowles’s advice to all college students is to focus on the positive because it is so easy to get bogged down with the negative. She said students should make themselves get out into the community, as well find a group of people to connect with.

Knowles also said for students to look ahead and ask if something is worth it. Whatever decision they’re facing, it is always best for students to think ahead before they make it.

“This particular transition, when you’re no longer somebody’s child and you have to figure everything out on your own, is just a huge time to be able to speak into somebody’s life,” Knowles said.