By Yetnaleci Maya, Oct. 12, 2021

David Hall, interim chief of Cal Poly Pomona’s University Police Department, announced specific changes for the department’s operations via campus-wide email on Sept. 22 as a part of its shift toward community policing.

Among the changes, Hall focused on updating officer patrolling schedules to provide greater coverage on campus, increasing collaboration with the Office of the Dean of Students, selecting both a detective sergeant for the Police and Safety Advisory Committee and a liaison between UPD and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, and having detectives take the lead on community engagement until the department creates a full-time community relations position.

In his email to the university, Hall explained the updated patrolling schedules, effective Oct. 3, are aimed at providing greater visibility of officers and to encourage more engagement with the campus community. The new configuration of patrolling schedules has been set to 12-hour shifts, three days a week.

“The structure of each watch has been set so that there is a supervisor on duty at all times that consists of either a sergeant or corporal,” said Hall. “Personnel consists of four or five officers on duty, currently night watch has five and day watch has four.”

Hall clarified the schedule is subject to alteration due to time off, vacations and holidays.

In efforts to connect with the campus community, and ensure UPD is prioritizing the safety of the students, another of the goals Hall announced is increased collaboration between both the Dean of Students and Student Conduct and Integrity offices.

Dean of Students Jonathan Grady vocalized an important aspect of employing these community policing strategies is acknowledging past incidents of injustice, understanding the historical context and increasing dialogue surrounding matters of trust and safety across campus.

“It’s important to take an educational approach into anything that we’re doing,” said Grady. “I think the culture of ‘I think something is wrong’ and the go-to being, ‘let’s call the police’ is something we need to pause to think about. Is it a true emergency? If it is a crisis moment or a threat, yes, we call the police. But if it is a situation where someone is not wearing a mask in the classroom, a faculty member calling the police, to me, would not be the best avenue.”

(Darren Loo | The Poly Post)

When approaching community policing models, Grady emphasized that for them to be effective, they must be truly collaborative, and that means students, staff and faculty taking part in these meetings and UPD genuinely building a relationship with the community.

In correspondence to building community relationships, Hall mentioned the department has been discussing the idea of tabling at this year’s Pumpkin Festival as a way of engaging with the community and allowing people to come up and ask questions.

The shift into community policing was originally brought forth through the recommendations of the Police Advisory Task Force that was established fall 2020.

“(PATF) came out after the summer of 2020, when we were seeing national protests breaking out against police brutality and there was a heightened awareness of police violence against marginalized communities,” said Executive Director of Equity, Access, and Belonging Alejandro Covarrubias who also chaired the Police Advisory Task Force.

The task force’s recommendations spurred the creation of the upcoming Police Advisory & Safety Committee, whose membership includes a UPD representative. Detective Sgt. Erik Munzenmaier will serve as both a member of the committee and as the liaison between the campus police department and the LA County DA’s Office.

The announcement of the liaison position comes after the police department was criticized for referring an investigation against a student last semester to the DA’s office without notification. The role of the liaison will be to conduct investigations of criminal activity, oversee detectives, meet with the Police and Safety Advisory Committee, and represent UPD when referring these cases to the DA’s office.

“I feel that, yes, our interaction can be counted on to look out for the students’ interests whether they’re right, wrong or undetermined,” said Hall, describing the potential benefits of the new liaison position and the community policing approach. “That’s where that interaction of our department and the dean of students will come in, because we both want the same thing: We want the safety of the campus community and we want our students to succeed, but if someone does something wrong, they have to be held accountable.”

Feature image by Yetnaleci Maya

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