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Feb. 18, 2010 Volume 31, No. 20

Protecting the campus

Dual roles as police officer and father

Dustin Moyer works through the wee hours as an MU police officer and spends his days caring for his 19-month-old son, Thomas, while his wife, Mandy, works at MU's Student Financial Aid office. That combination of responsibilities earned Moyer the title of "Sexiest Dad Alive" in People magazine's Best of 2009 poll. Nicholas Benner photo

Solving problems at home and at work

Policing and parenting are all in a day's work for one MU cop

Flashing LED lights instead of REM sleep; a Lidar gun instead of a television remote; the front seat of a squad car instead of a bed: For Dustin Moyer, an MU Police Department officer, nights are spent patrolling Columbia’s nightlife.

On a given night, Moyer might respond to calls from residence halls, patrol downtown for drunk driving and — on rare occasions — check out reports of streakers blitzing Francis Quadrangle. If there’s such a thing as a “slow day,” he says those typically come on Monday and Tuesday.  

Moyer has many stories from his four years on the force, but one incident from late January is particularly telling. Moyer pulled over an 18-year-old female for driving erratically. After performing field sobriety tests, he arrested her for driving while intoxicated. The National Guard had just accepted her, and now that future service could be in jeopardy.

“You could see the reality hit her,” says Moyer. “And it’s moments like that when I can talk to people about making a change in their lifestyle away from dangerous behavior. Most of the time, they get it.”

Moyer couldn’t imagine himself doing anything but law enforcement. The instant gratification of diffusing situations and the ability to help change people’s lives are two of the most appealing aspects of the job.

But police officers aren’t immune to fear. One memory still haunts him. A late-night single-car accident on Providence Road left one intoxicated man stumbling around his wrecked car. Moyer arrived just in time to block traffic.

“Until backup arrived, it was just me and him. He reached into his glove box to hand me his vehicle registration,” Moyer says. “I learned later that there was a loaded handgun in the glove box.”

The Missouri native lives in Ashland, Mo., with his wife, Mandy, and 19-month-old son Thomas. Moyer works the graveyard shift, 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., so he can be at home with his son during the day while his wife works. Sleep comes in two-hour increments. Moyer rests whenever Thomas decides to take a nap.

For Mandy Moyer, an administrative associate in Student Financial Aid, having a police officer as a husband is sometimes a stressful reminder of the fragility of life. “I know he’s out there every day putting his life on the line,” she says.  

But there’s a romantic side, too.

“Not many men would sacrifice sleep, take their son to play dates and have dinner ready when their wives come home from work,” Mandy Moyer says. “A lot of moms have a hard time when they have to go back to work after having a baby. With Dustin’s help, that wasn’t me.”

Apparently, millions of people agree with her that Moyer is a great dad. They also agreed that he is good looking. After seeing an ad calling for entrants, Mandy Moyer entered her husband’s photo and story in a Best of 2009 poll by People magazine. From a handful of finalists and two million online votes, Moyer emerged “Sexiest Dad Alive.”

“He took a lot of razzing from his police family here at the station,” says Lt. Buddy Anliker, Moyer’s shift supervisor. “But it was a great chance to show how our officers balance police work and family life. We’re proud of him.”

While Moyer says the recognition doesn’t mean much to him, he does admit it feels good that others think he is a great father. What does he think his son will say about the award in 15 years?

“I’m sure we’ll all have a pretty good laugh about it,” Moyer says. “But hopefully we’ll have a lot more of [Thomas’] awards to be celebrating so that mine won’t matter.” — David Wietlispach