Monday, April 13, 2015

CrimJ student helps run Amazon security

Matthew NugentThe burglar alarm awoke 10-year-old Matt Nugent. His mom grabbed him and his sister, barricaded them all in the master bedroom.

“There was a sense of panic,” said Nugent, now 25. “Then I looked out the back window and saw two patrol cars and immediately knew everything was going to be OK.” The alarm turned out to be false—the paperboy had slung the Sunday edition into the front door—but Nugent had found his passion: To work in law enforcement.

As a teenager, Nugent put aside the siren call of law enforcement, and considered more lucrative careers. But when he was 18, the police arrived again: Nugent was in community college and working as a waiter. An officer stopped by for a to-go order.

“I went up to him and said, ‘How would someone get into law enforcement?’” The officer didn’t hesitate. “Let me take you on a ride-along,” he replied.

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Nugent never turned back. He transferred to Bellevue College to study criminal justice. He got a job monitoring alarms at Microsoft’s global security operations center, and worked his way up to shift manager. After his Microsoft contract ended, he enrolled in WSU Pullman’s criminal justice program.

Before he could move to Pullman, Amazon came knocking. They needed someone to build its global security operations center for corporate facilities. Nugent was 23. No way could he pass up that chance. He quickly re-applied to WSU’s Global Campus and started as an online student in January 2013.

Nugent spent 11 months creating the security center for Amazon. It monitors 175 offices worldwide and responds to about 10,000 alarms per week, dispatching either local law enforcement or on-site security. Most are minor breaches, such as people using an emergency exit or not swiping their security badges. But Nugent and his team also deal with bomb threats, medical emergencies and building evacuations. “We’re training for the absolute worst, the worst of the worst,” he said, “things like active shooters.”

Nugent also helps out protect his own community as a volunteer with the Kirkland Police Department. He started in 2008 with the department’s Police Explorers program, which introduces teens to law enforcement, and is now a civilian advisor, acting as liaison between the department and the program.

Nugent will graduate this spring, and has begun applying for master’s degrees in emergency management, criminal justice, and cybersecurity.

“I’d like to work toward obtaining a position in local or federal law enforcement,” he said. “My folks think I’m absolutely crazy to leave something like what I have. But I want to follow my passion and my heart.”

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