Security Chief speaks at Women's luncheon

Written by: 
Jessica Tautfest

Director of Security Earl Morris discussed service at the BYUH Women’s Organization luncheon with the help of a ceramic hand on Jan. 15.

As stated in his introduction, before Morris came to BYUH last year, he was assisting U.S. and foreign governments with crime and security issues throughout the world, and before that he was the deputy assistant administrator over security for all U.S. airports.

The theme of Morris’ talk centered on the hands that helped him throughout his life. He shared this by recounting his experiences in previous security jobs.

On the table next to Morris was the sculpture of a hand. According to his talk, having found the sculpture abandoned outside the ceramic studio on campus, Morris had it restored. He used the sculpture at the luncheon to provide a visual reminder for the focus of his talk to the women sitting in the audience in the Aloha Center Ballroom.

“At 8 years of age, I realized the many hands that were reaching into my life, and that is why the sculpture has significance,” said Morris.

He said he grew up in a home that was frequented by law enforcement, and recalled he saw them as people who came to make things better and to help him. From that time on, Morris said he wanted to be in law enforcement so he could be a hand to help others.

Morris said he was a part of a series of SWAT raids into methamphetamine labs 30 years ago. Because of this exposure to methamphetamine, 15 years later he contracted cancer. “Of the 120 officers who worked in a three-year time period doing methamphetamine labs, 40 of us contracted cancer,” said Morris.

He went on share he was one of the few of the 40 who survived cancer and that was because of a helping hand. That hand belonged to a surgeon.

“After five different doctors, we found a doctor who went the extra mile. He sat in front of [my wife] and I, and said, ‘I will not let you die.’” Morris told the audience how grateful he is for that surgeon’s hand.

Morris gave a reminder that even though Laie is a great community and it feels safe, it is still subject to the same problems happening around the world.

The Laie community, according to Morris, is not immune to domestic problems. “Dangers are here and they surround us, so don’t be fooled by thinking that it can’t happen here, that it won’t happen here. Take care of yourselves and your children.”

He encouraged everyone to lend their hands to each other in the community to help those who can’t help themselves and to keep each other safe.
“In Laie we think that this is a safe environment, but you can just never be too safe,” said May Shumway, community member and president of the BYUH Women’s Organization. Shumway said she was reminded by Morris to be more careful with her family and not become too comfortable with the security of her home.

Morris’ ending comment to the women was, “Never become complacent. Lend a hand to others to lift them up.”

“What stood out about Brother Morris was his lifetime of dedication to preserving people’s freedom and how he was excited and happy to do that for our country,” said Sheryl Rogers, wife of Director of Housing Edward Rogers, after the luncheon. “I’m glad that he brought to our attention the fact that no matter where we live, we should be aware of our surroundings.”

BYUH First Lady Margaret Wheelwright is also the vice president of the BYUH Women’s Organization and in charge of picking the speakers. She shared that she chose Morris to speak because she has gotten to know him very well since he came here a year ago and finds him intriguing. “I thought it was really interesting that as a child he wanted to be in law enforcement—and what an interesting life. I think that we are just really lucky that he has come to BYU-Hawaii.”

uploaded January 22, 2015