Finance and Operations

Meet the Experts: Sgt. Charles Burks


The mission of the Clemson University Police Department is to enhance safety, reduce risk and prevent harm. Sergeant Charles Burks contributes to this mission through his everyday role as supervisor of the Directed Patrol unit, as well as through the training and education he provides to the campus community.

We sat down with Sgt. Burks to learn more about his role within CUPD.

What is your role with CUPD?

My current role is the Sergeant over our Directed Patrol unit. So I supervise our Directed Patrol unit, which includes our two K-9 units, and that falls under Special Operations, which covers Special Events as well. If there’s a big event, whether planned or unplanned, we are part of the planning for threat mitigation and law enforcement coverage and we do a lot of work to make sure those events can happen and can happen safely.

In my everyday role, in the Directed Patrol unit, I do a lot more than just directed patrol. We do crime analysis and figure out where crime hot spots are, whether it be traffic, thefts, alcohol, drug-related or whatever the case may be. If there’s something going on in a specific location, we look for a pattern and look for a way to address that pattern.

Whenever I’m not doing that, I have an obligation to work on the road as the rest of our road units do. I also do a lot with training in the community. I teach Run, Hide, Fight, Stop the Bleed and do discussion-based safety meetings with people on how they can secure their area, be safer in their area and basic considerations on how to be safe in different and new environments.

Sgt. Burks (right with controller) and Lt. Steven Cannon use a bomb disposal robot to deliver water to students participating in Homecoming activities on Bowman Field.

How might students interact with you in this role?

When there are community-based events, like National Night Out or Coffee with a Cop, we combine with our Public Events Sergeant, Michelle Young, and do some things to engage that way. When I do my training events, some of those are student groups that bring me in for those. And just being out riding around, I enjoy talking to people and look for opportunities to engage with people.

What types of training do you teach?

For me specifically, I am the program manager for Run, Hide, Fight for the Clemson University Police Department. I partner with the Clemson University Fire & EMS department and we teach Stop the Bleed. I assist our K-9 officers in instructing groups on suspicious packages and unattended packages. I teach basic campus safety ideas and concepts as well.

It’s not always teaching though. Sometimes a group just wants to talk about ways to be safe and considerations for how to be safe and I’ll come in and do discussion-based events with them as well. If anyone has a question about something, just wants to know more about a particular topic, wants an officer’s opinion about something or wants to know what the law says, I can interact with folks in that way as well.

Why is Run, Hide, Fight and Stop the Bleed training important?

So we see the news and the things that go on around the nation and we see situations where there are people out there that are out to cause other people harm. So often we caught up in it happens at a workplace or at a school but it’s not just those locations where you may find yourself faced with someone trying to cause people harm. You could be at a shopping center, you could be at a movie theatre or a festival somewhere. We try to educate people on ways to keep themselves safe but ways to keep others safe as well. It’s not just, if I’m in this one place then I’m safe. Well you could be but for that one moment when you’re not, what can you do? Run, Hide, Fight gives us that.

Stop the Bleed is kind of the same concept. If there’s an injury that you can treat or help treat and maybe save somebody’s life, I want to give as many people that information as I can. Something as simple as coming up on a car wreck. There could be an injury that needs to be treated before EMS gets there or other officers get there. That bystander could potentially save that person’s life or if they find themselves with an injury then maybe save their own life. It’s just a matter of getting people more information to keep themselves safe.

You recently took part in the full-scale active threat training exercise that took place on campus during fall break. How does an exercise like this help CUPD stay prepared for this type of situation?

We, as CUPD, are intimately familiar with our location. Just as Clemson City Police are intimately familiar with theirs and so on. But they aren’t as familiar with our location and vice versa. Being able to bring other agencies in for an exercise like this gives everyone more knowledge of where we are and what we have. It also allows them to see our tactics and us to see their tactics so that when the moment comes and we have to bring all these groups together, we aren’t trying to figure it out at that moment and we know what to expect from each other. We can create meshed units and I can take one officer and I can put them with any other combination of officers and they are going to go out and do the same job, have the same mission and know what to expect.

We do a lot of training for these events but you can only train so much. You focus on what you think are the basics but eventually, you have to broaden out. If you only ever do the basics, I know to do that well but I don’t know how to do this over here. In a situation like this, you may find yourself in any number of roles and you need to understand what those roles are. These trainings allow us to put people into different roles in an environment where it’s controlled and safe but allow them to get a handle on that and a perspective on that and really understand what that role is. Exercises like this allow us to build up the capabilities of the department and allow us to identify areas where maybe we need to enhance or focus our training as well.

To request training, visit the CUPD website and fill out the Training and Outreach Request form.