Longtime public safety officer retires


Gunter Kleist

Mike Laflin

For 28 years, Mike Laflin has been a familiar figure on the Johnson campus: with a long blond ponytail and what initially appears to be a laconic, gruff manner, he has been an anchor in the office of public safety, not to mention the man most associated with issuing parking tickets.
“I’ve been here for 28 years, obviously I’ve enjoyed it!” said Laflin. “There’s not much [else] to say. I’m old enough to retire.”

As to his plans after leaving NVU-Johnson in January, Laflin is noncommittal beyond saying, “ I’ll do whatever I want… I’ve got a few projects, but I’m just going to relax for a change.”

Laflin received the Freda Hebb award in 2018. This award was given to Laflin in recognition of his devotion to the safety of this campus, as he embodies what the Freda Hebb award stands for: good character, friendliness, devotion to this institution, and making an impact for the better here.
Fellow Public Safety officer Siobhan Anderson-Judkins noted that his colleague has played a large role within the Public Safety office, making a lasting impact on the school and department alike.

“He definitely deserves it [retirement],” said Anderson-Judkins. “I’m a little sad because he’s been here obviously the whole time I’ve been here. He’s been here longer than I’ve been alive.”

Director of Public Safety Michael Palagonia, noted that Laflin has been a cherished colleague as well as a mentor to the younger officers in the department. “He is definitely someone who’s going to be missed,” said Palagonia, who has worked alongside Laflin for the past 15 years. “It’s definitely going to feel different coming into work on Jan. 2 and he’s not going to be here.”

Palagonia also mentioned a new officer who will be starting shortly before Laflin’s last day in the department, which will be Jan. 1.

In a Basement Medicine article following Laflin’s receiving the Freda Hebb award in 2018, Michele Whitmore, associate dean of students, spoke to what she regarded as perhaps his most defining trait. “He is an empathetic, caring individual who will do what it takes to help others,” said Whitmore, who also aided in his nomination for that award. “[He is] a highly dependable and dedicated employee. Level-headed in crisis or emergency situations, and a team player who is always looking for ways to improve department processes.”

In that same article, Laflin says the reason he’s been at this campus for so long is the people. “Some people may not agree with that . . . I can be blunt and to the point,” says Laflin, “but you get to help a lot of people, and you get to meet a lot of people. I’ve got some very good friends that have graduated from here. I take pride in everything I do, whether it’s here or elsewhere. Everything I do, I try to do as best as possible.”