By Nicolas Hernandez, Aug. 24, 2021
Lt. David Hall, former assistant chief of police at CSU Dominguez Hills, took over as interim chief of Cal Poly Pomona’s University Police Department on Aug. 16, as announced by Vice President of Student Affairs Christina Gonzales via a campus-wide email the same day.
This latest appointment follows an April announcement by Gonzales and University President Soraya Coley that Capt. Scott VanScoy, who served in Cal State Northridge’s police department, would be serving as CPP’s interim police chief effective June 1, following Chief Dario Robinson’s retirement. VanScoy, however, only served until July 2 as he opted to go into early retirement, according to Gonzales — a fact that campus administrators did not communicate to students nor faculty and staff.
VanScoy recently took on the position of consultant at The Riseling Group, a consultancy firm specializing in higher education and K-12 campus security and law enforcement, according to the company’s website. His bio on the firm’s site references his position as CPP’s interim chief. VanScoy could not be reached by deadline.
After VanScoy’s abrupt departure, Lt. Marc Simpson took over as head of the campus police department from July 2 until Aug. 16, also without an announcement from campus officials.
Gonzales supported the decision not to make any announcements concerning UPD leadership until last week saying that it was clear that Simpson would be serving as interim chief for a “very short term” while the university finished its background process for Hall. Even as faculty and staff began to gradually return physically to the campus in the summer, Gonzales said that administrators “did not see a need for” making an announcement that Simpson was serving as interim chief since he was well known on campus and already served on university committees that required representation.
Hall arrives at CPP after serving in CSU Dominguez Hills’ police department since 2012. Before that, Hall, a 1988 Cal State Fullerton alumnus, served in the Los Angeles Police Department as an officer from 1982 to 1992 and later as a sergeant from 1992 until 2011.
“It was a great honor to be asked,” said Hall, discussing his interest in the position. “Actually, I said, ‘Sure, if you would like to have me, I’d love to come.’ Literally, you don’t turn down something like that. It just doesn’t happen that often in life, for anybody, let alone me.”
While Hall said his first days in the position consisted mostly of “meeting and greeting everybody,” he identified three goals for his interim tenure: improving the trust in the department through open communication, configuring patrol schedules to allow for greater visibility and engagement, and collaborating with Jonathan Grady, the campus’ recently appointed dean of students.
As an example of collaboration with the Dean of Students Office, Hall said that Grady communicated with Hall that mask-wearing, as students return to campus, should not be enforced by university police but instead should be handled as a Student Affairs policy.
“I’m very pleased that [Grady] told me that,” said Hall. “Got that directive out for our folks.”
Hall’s goal of improving trust in the department comes after a semester in which reports surfaced of a UPD detective allegedly accusing a Black student of attempting to defraud his bank and lying to police after the student reported that his identity was stolen. The student was later charged with filing a false police report to which he pleaded not guilty. These allegations spurred strong criticism of the police department.
In May, ASI and the Academic Senate passed resolutions advocating for the recently established Police Advisory Task Force to be equipped with more oversight capabilities and the ability to review and change UPD policy. Both resolutions also called for a more comprehensive complaint process.
Hall did not comment on the incident as, according to Gonzales, it is currently under review by the Office of Equity and Compliance. Hall did, however, affirm that the complaint process is “open and in full force,” adding that campus community members should report any interaction with a UPD officer in which they felt discomfort. He also emphasized that interactions with UPD officers are audio-visually recorded.
Hall added, “Along with that, my request, in the best interest of not having problems, is: If you’re asked to do something by an officer, please just comply and do it. Because you do have all these methodologies to resolve anything that you think was inappropriate afterward.”
Gonzales acknowledged that while there is a complaint form currently on the UPD website, it needs to be made more noticeable. Hall added that in addition to the complaint process, the UPD website is something he is interested in improving altogether.
Over the next few weeks, the university will release the Police Advisory Task Force’s Spring 2021 report which includes recommendations for UPD policy and announce the search for a permanent chief of police. Hall’s rate of pay will be $95.85 per hour for a base monthly salary of $16,614.
Gonzales hopes that the PATF’s report is a start for students and campus community members to regain trust in the UPD, something Gonzales called “a priority, not just for me but for the president.” Additionally, Gonzales said that the job description for the permanent chief will “give voice to what we’re looking for and we really are looking for someone with a vision of how we look at community policing.”
It remains to be seen ahead of the report’s release whether the PATF will now possess the ability to review and change UPD policy, a power both ASI and the Academic Senate called for.
Correction: This article was edited on Aug. 24 to correct a mention of Hall serving in CSUN’s police department; he served in CSU Dominguez Hill’s police department.
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