Sergeant Chris Gavette Helps Saves Students' Lives From a Student Planning to Attack Others
Chris Gavette is not only a Purdue Global professor, but in many ways he also plays the role of a teacher in his full-time job as detective sergeant at the University of Central Florida (UCF). He is a mentor in every sense of the word, whether he is in his Purdue Global virtual “classroom” or on the UCF campus. He makes it a priority to always lead by example and provide guidance to those around him.
In fact, his management style is so admirable it recently earned him a nomination for TASER and PoliceOne’s first-ever RISE Awards in the “Leadership” category. Frank Imparato, an officer at UCF who works under Sgt. Gavette’s command, submitted the nomination based on their experience working together over the last few years.
One incident when Officer Imparato says Sgt. Gavette truly stood out as a leader was in the early morning hours following St. Patrick’s Day in 2013. At the time, Officer Imparato was a rookie who had only been on the UCF police squad for two years. Officer Imparato and Sgt. Gavette were responding to a 911 call from a student who said his roommate had a gun and was planning a campus attack.
Officer Imparato recalls his nerves tingling as he was en route to the dorm where the students lived. However, he says it was with Sgt. Gavette’s support that he managed to remain calm and take charge of the situation. Within minutes of receiving the call, the two had broken down the gunman’s door. Later upon a search of the gunman’s computer, Sgt. Gavette discovered the gunman had researched police response time and had concluded he had about 18 minutes to carry out an attack. Due to Sgt. Gavette and Officer Imparato’s quick response, the gunman hadn’t had enough time to take action on others. In the end, the gunman only had time to take his own life and Sgt. Gavette and Officer Imparato likely saved many innocent students’ lives that night.
To Officer Imparato, it’s in situations like the one from that frightening morning that Sgt. Gavette demonstrates relentless support.
“I remember thinking, ‘we’re good, we’re going to get out of this together,’” said Officer Imparato.
According to Sgt. Gavette, he was both surprised and gracious to hear that he is a finalist in the RISE awards. To him, the greatest part is that the nomination came from Officer Imparato.
“It was such an honor to be nominated. The fact that I was recognized from the bottom, as opposed to the top, means so much to me. I value the people I work with and the people around me,” said Sgt. Gavette.
Sgt. Gavette takes a lot of what has made him a successful leader in the police force and builds it into his teaching practices at Purdue Global. After years of building relationships and trust with members of his police squad, interacting with his students is like second nature.
“I like the fact that Purdue Global students’ backgrounds tend to be a little more diverse as far as education and experience goes. It forces me as an instructor and practitioner to stay relevant with current events and topics so the classroom experience, especially in the digital environment, is fresh, unique and engaging,” said Sgt. Gavette. “I like to show my students how the information in class can be used in real life.”
It seems the two jobs he chose couldn’t have been a better fit. More often than not, both worlds merge and he finds himself using the knowledge and experience from one and incorporating it into the other.
“You’d be surprised how many times my students teach me something new,” he says. “I can take what they teach me and bring it back to my career. And at the same time, I can share with them my firsthand experience in law enforcement. It’s kind of a tit for tat experience.”