By Janean Sorrell, Aug. 30, 2022
After a vigorous yearlong search, Cal Poly Pomona announced a new chief of the University Police Department. Chief Linh Dinh commenced his tenure on July 25, as announced in an email addressed to the campus community.
Dinh fills a position that has been vacant since Chief Dario Robinson’s abrupt retirement in July 2021.
“It’s such a critical role for the campus and having Chief Dinh come in with the experience that he has, one with that value and his perspective and also with his experience at a sister CSU, I think sets us up in a good spot,” said Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Police Advisory & Safety Committee Chair, Megan Stang.
Prior to his tenure as CPP’s police chief, Dinh served as lieutenant at California State University, Dominguez Hills Police Department starting in 2018. Before that he spent nearly 13 years at the Montebello Unified School District Police Department, where his love of working in education sector grew.
“It was kind of a mix of general policing type stuff but with dedicated officers that built relationships within the school,” said Dinh. “That was my first real introduction into community-oriented policing at the education setting and it prepared me for the position here at Cal Poly Pomona.”
Although law enforcement was not his career goal, Dinh stumbled upon it after graduating from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in geography. His original plan was a career in environmental consulting or environmental protection but needing to make money, Dinh ended up taking a job in the field of urban planning and development.
“We built low-income housing, special needs housing and senior housing amongst other things,” said Dinh. “And I found that I at 22 years old sitting in a cubicle with a shirt and tie wasn’t my thing.”
Looking for opportunities to get more into his field of study, Dinh came across a job posting for the city of Glendale seeking part-time reserve rangers to join the team.
“The job description talked about bio resource management and forestry, all this stuff I studied in college and I thought wow, what a great job this could be,” said Dinh. “That’s how I found my path to law enforcement type of work.”
Within a couple of years of volunteering every other week, Dinh transitioned to a full-time position working as a ranger for nearly eight years.
Eventually Dinh heard about an opportunity with the Montebello Unified School District Police Department working his way up the ranks to chief, a position that he held for nearly seven years.
During his time there, Dinh focused on the campus, holding office hours and building relationships with students and faculty. His team would also hold meetings on potential threats, visit elementary and intermediate schools.
“That really helped shape my future in law enforcement, it was what I really enjoyed and liked to do,” said Dinh. “That just carried over to Dominguez when I got there.”
According to Dinh, Dominguez Hills is a small campus where everyone is supportive and friendly to each other.
“I built some great relationships over there (Dominguez Hills) and learned more about the higher education setting,” continued Dinh.
After serving roughly eight years as lieutenant at Dominguez Hills, Dinh learned about the vacant position at CPP and threw his name in the hat. After a lengthy process Dinh was officially hired to serve as CPP’s police chief.
Although Dinh has only been on campus for a few weeks he has ambition to bring changes to campus.
“My goal is to implement more community based collaborative type of partnerships,” said Dinh. “My full intention is to get more involved and get the officers more involved in the campus with campus events.”
Community policing was at the forefront when searching for a new police chief.
In a previous interview about the police chief search Christina M. Gonzales, vice president of Student Affairs said, “the role is very important for our campus. We need to get the right person that understands not only the campus as a whole but who our students are, who our staff are, our faculty, because they’re serving this campus community and they need to know how to integrate themselves, the UPD and other officers and staff into this fabric that makes up the whole CPP community.”
Gonzales also noted that students have asked for a safe place to provide input and have direct access to the chief, to be able to ask questions and understand why things are happening.
“My philosophy with community orientated policing is that it involves working with different stakeholders to identify needs, identify threats and identify ways in which all stakeholders can work together to come up with a solution for a problem, crime or a trend that needs to be addressed,” said Chief Dinh.
Feature image courtesy of Tom Zasadzinski.
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