Faces of CNM: Security Chief John Corvino

Thanks to his leadership, CNM is safer and more welcoming than ever for students and staff alike
July 26, 2018

John Corvino’s security philosophy can be summed up in one word: presence.

He wants his officers and supervisors to be visible, helpful, and available at all times—across all CNM campuses—so that students and staff feel safe, and so that officers can act as a preventative measure before something goes wrong.

“We’re working hard to create a place where everyone can feel at home and not have to worry,” Corvino says.

It’s the small things in Corvino’s strategy that add up to create this atmosphere. For example, he’s asked his team of about 60 people to participate in a campaign he’s calling “Operation Hello,” which is exactly what it sounds like. By constantly saying hello to folks around campus, the officers are creating a known presence and making themselves available and approachable. Corvino is tracking the number of “hellos” said each week and estimates that his team will have said about 150,000 by September.

The security officers are also required to have at least one conversation with a student or staff member each week where the officers ask friendly questions about the other person’s day or campus life. This is harder than a simple hello, but deepens the relationship between the security team and the rest of campus.

There are three different shifts for security officers and the crossover briefings used to take place inside the security building. As yet another way to create presence, Corvino decided to have those briefings outside and at different spots across the campuses so students and staff can see up 10 officers gathered at one time.

“Just seeing those bodies is important,” Corvino says.

Corvino comes from the Albuquerque Police Department where he worked as a beat cop and detective for many years. After retiring, he went back and taught at the Albuquerque Police Academy. On his beat, Corvino started in a police car but eventually moved to a bike because the bike allowed him to create more presence. He could roll up to people in the Southeast neighborhood where he was stationed and be seen as a normal human on a bike, not just an officer stepping out of a cop car with lights.

Corvino also tried to create presence by talking to the people he worked with, even during arrests. He tells a story about arresting a sex worker and talking to her on the way to jail. His partner asked why he was talking to a “prostitute” and Corvino told him because he saw her as a human and wanted to create relationships with everyone in his district.

He tells another story about arresting a man who was firing a gun into the air. That man went to jail, but years later the same man saw Corvino on Kirtland Air Force Base where Corvino was working as a college counselor for the Community College of the Air Force (something else he did after retirement). Turns out Corvino had suggested the man join the military on the ride into jail and the man had taken his advice and gone on to get a good job and build a family.

“It was a great experience,” he says.

Corvino eventually chose to work at CNM (he was hired as the chief in 2015) because education and CNM were important to him. He has a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and a Master’s in Education and remembers writing out Algebraic homework equations on the hood of his cop car using a dry erase marker during breaks from patrol. He also used to patrol the neighborhood where CNM is located and has a soft spot for the area.

Going forward, presence and safety will continue to be Corvino’s main priorities, but he wants to focus on officer development as well. Some of his employees don’t have degrees, but they work at CNM, so it’s the perfect opportunity for them to get an education. And if they’re getting an education, that’s just one more way for the officers to create a presence and to be more tuned into the needs of CNM’s students and staff.

“I’m really proud of what we’ve built, and excited to keep building,” Corvino says.