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Police Statement on Full-Service Police Dept.

picture of a public safety officer
By W. David Wilson

December 08, 2017 - 04:32 PM

A Statement from the Chief of Police and Campus Safety on Establishing a Full-Service Police Department

Mt. San Antonio College is in the process of establishing its own full-service police department as directed by the Board of Trustees.

As Mt. SAC’s police chief since 2015, I have had the opportunity to meet with many faculty, staff, and students to discuss the benefits of a campus police department

The primary advantage of Mt. SAC having its own armed personnel on campus, police officers and some of the qualified public safety officers, is the ability to rapidly respond to an act of mass violence, which unfortunately has become almost commonplace across the nation and the world. It is our goal to provide the best protection and service possible for everyone on campus while maintaining the reputation of Mt. SAC as a very safe campus. As I recently told a reporter, I want Mt. SAC to be “on the map” for its great educational and athletic programs, rather than being known as the site of a mass casualty incident.

An additional benefit of creating our own police department is that we will be able to select individuals who will provide the community policing that is necessary on a college campus. We are in the process of hiring three police officers who will serve to benefit students, faculty, and staff while protecting the campus from those who seek to commit crimes here.

My deputy chief and I are sworn police officers and have carried firearms on campus for the past three years without incident. More than one year ago we added two sworn police sergeants who were selected because they provide the community policing attitude we require. Each of us has over 25 years of law enforcement experience with large local agencies.

Since 2015, our officers have arrested a murder suspect, a sexual assault suspect, an indecent exposure suspect, several thieves, and other criminals. We have also successfully taken several mentally troubled individuals into custody without causing anyone injury. None of these events created headlines or controversy because they were performed professionally by the personnel currently on campus. These types of actions are what the campus community can continue to expect as we complete the formation of our own police department.

Some students, staff and faculty have recently expressed concerns about policing based on what they have seen in the media, where brutality and racial profiling are big topics. The reality is, and facts demonstrate, incidents like these are rare and isolated when compared to the amount of activity that officers are involved in everyday across the nation. As in every profession, (medicine, education, entertainment, clergy, and others) there are a few officers who behave improperly and sometimes criminally. When that occurs, they are dealt with appropriately. I am pleased to be able to say there have been zero cases of that type here at Mt. SAC.

Still, to ensure the Mt. SAC Police and Campus Safety Department maintains its professionalism, officers will be trained to the same level as officers in most other California police departments by participating in the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST).

While not everyone will agree that having our own police department is necessary, over 90 percent of United States colleges and universities have made the choice to have their own, including Cal Poly Pomona, Chaffey Community College and Pasadena City College.

Mt. SAC’s Police and Campus Safety Department will consist of Community Services Officers, the Department of Police and Campus Safety Officers, Police Officers, Dispatchers, and administrative support personnel. The department will continue to provide services to the campus community such as providing directions to buildings, jumpstarting dead batteries, retrieving keys from locked vehicles, escorting people to their cars, and unlocking doors for faculty and staff. The enhanced training and experience of the police officers will benefit the college community by providing on-campus law enforcement rather than having to rely on the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Walnut Station.

That is not to say we will no longer work with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department as they are essential partners in assisting us with major events. However, our officers will be able to respond to active incidents within a couple of minutes and are much more familiar with the people here as well as all the facilities.

As the process continues, the college and I are committed to addressing the concerns of the campus community and answering questions about how the development of our department is progressing.