When a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer was shot to death, allegedly by the Boston Marathon bombers, Joe and Brian McBride could relate.
“It was very sobering. It hit home,” said Joe McBride, director of public safety at Holy Family University.
McBride, who sent condolences to MIT Police Chief John DiFava, heads a 38-man force. If a serious incident happened at the campus, he’d be in direct communications with the police department because he knows the campus so well.
“You’re responsible for a lot of lives in a small area,” he said.
Brian McBride, his son, is a Philadelphia Police Department lieutenant, assigned to the 18th district, home of the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and the University of the Sciences. He describes the area as a “target-rich environment,” noting that it’s home to haves and have-nots.
The 18th works with the police departments at Penn and Drexel and the security force at University of the Sciences, and McBride said it can be a dangerous job for all of them. He guesses that they are a little more on alert following the April 18 assassination of MIT cop Sean Collier.
McBride relies on the university officers when 18th district police answer a call.
“Who knows the school campus more than the people who patrol it every day,” he said.
While Joe McBride has been Holy Family’s public safety director for seven years, his son also has ties to the university. On Saturday, he’ll be graduating with a degree in criminal justice.
McBride’s wife, two teenage sons, parents, brother and sister will be in attendance at the Academy of Music when he graduates. His dad will be working, providing security for university president Sister Francesca Onley, the board of trustees, administration and faculty.
The younger McBride took courses at the university’s Woodhaven campus and believes he’ll be able to use what he learned in the classroom to the job.
“I’m excited about graduating,” he said.
Joe McBride also has a degree in criminal justice, but his is from Chestnut Hill College. He went back to school at age 50, starting at Community College of Philadelphia.
The men share something else — a sparkling 3.89 grade point average.
Brian, a married father of two, earned mostly A’s despite holding a full-time job, having family obligations and not stepping foot in a classroom for more than 25 years.
“I’m very proud of him,” his dad said. “It’s a good accomplishment.”
Joe McBride, 65, operated McBride’s Pub, at 26th and Morris streets in Grays Ferry, and later spent seven years as director of public safety at Harcum College in Bryn Mawr. He lives with his wife Marianne, a shuttle driver for Holy Family, in North Cape May, N.J.
Previously, he spent 17 years with the police department, mostly in West and South Philadelphia, retiring as a sergeant.
“I have a Ph.D in the streets,” he joked.
Brian, 45, who lives in South Philadelphia, graduated from St. John Neumann High School in 1985 and spent a semester at Temple.
“I promised myself I would go back when I left Temple in ‘85,” he said.
His college degree will add a point to his total score if he seeks a promotion to captain.
Before joining the police department, he worked for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for eight years. His police academy graduation took place in 1995 in the White House Rose Garden.
Brian was able to transfer 51 police academy credits to Holy Family, where he started in January 2011. He needed 123 credits to graduate and finished with 129. He took time off only for trips to Florida and Ireland.
Classes met from 6 to 10 p.m., but much of the work was on his own.
“It was challenging, but you can get it done fairly quickly,” he said of graduating in two and a half years as a night student. “You have to be pretty dedicated to do it.” ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org