Job: Police Corporal and K9 Officer, Department of Police and Public Safety
Members of Mason’s Police and Public Safety Department maintain a presence on the university’s campuses and are a visible part of Mason Nation. One of the “officers” students are always happy to see is Bunji. His partner, Ashanti Mumin, is pretty special too.
A Dog’s Life: Mumin, who joined Mason in February 2022, recently transferred to Mason’s Police Crisis Response Unit, which handles calls for mental health service. Bunji, an Aussiedoodle therapy dog, accompanies Mumin during his calls. “Bunji has been a great addition to the team,” said Mumin. “We’ve bonded over the past month, and I’ve adopted him as my child.” Bunji and Mumin respond to calls for students who are in emotional distress, but Bunji is also there to support his fellow officers. “There's a stigma when it comes to police canines, so we're changing the title of his job from [therapy dog] to comfort dog. He serves a purpose, and he has been fulfilling that purpose 100 percent.”
Supporting the Campus Community: Exam periods, such as midterms and finals, can be a source of stress for many students. When the stress becomes too much and students reach out for help, it’s Mumin who gets that call. “It can get overwhelming,” said Mumin, who worked for the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office for four years prior to joining Mason and has a background in responding to mental health crises. Many of the calls the duo responds to involve first-year students. “It’s their first time away from home, and they haven’t been exposed to a lot of things that campus life brings.”
Answering the Call: While Mumin is dedicated to improving the mental health of Mason students, he is also looking out for his fellow officers. After noticing that officers assisting community members in crisis didn’t have a strong support system of their own, Mumin formed the Peer Support Team. “Officers’ mental health is very important, because when they're on scene of a call, they need to be 100 percent focused,” said Mumin, who began overseeing the unit’s wellness program in May 2023. “Many officers believe that we need to just suck it up. [Because of this] officers will leave stuff dormant, causing issues in the long run. We needed something for our officers to speak freely about whatever they’re feeling.” And all information shared with the support team is kept confidential, he added.
Outstanding Achievements: Because of his work on the Peer Support Team, Mumin was recently honored with a university Outstanding Achievement Award, but he says he’s not an awards kind of guy. “I don't do things for the awards, but I do things because it's right,” said Mumin. “We need the public to understand that officers do [sometimes need support]. We’re human, and the things that we see day to day, the average human just doesn’t see, but when they do, they suffer some sort of trauma.”
Mason K9 Teams: Bunji and Mumin can usually be found walking around campus during the day and are always looking to connect with community members, but they are not the only Mason K9 team.
- K9 Titan and his handler Lt. John O’Hare are Mason’s longest serving K9 unit and have been protecting Mason’s campuses together since 2018. Titan is trained in explosive detection. Together, they have worked to protect a variety of visiting VIPs, including Vice President Kamala Harris and a several presidential candidates.
- Cpl. Joseph Toke and K9 Flora started protecting Mason in November 2022 after completing explosive detection training together. They can usually be found out and about meeting new people on campus when they aren’t on an assignment.
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