Saddleback College hired an independent consulting firm to conduct a performance audit on the Saddleback Campus Police two weeks ago following Chief of Police Harry Parmer’s retirement last year.
The consultant tentatively offered four potential solutions for improving the department’s efficiency, according to information provided by the South Orange County Community College District Police Officers’ Association.
Aside from either maintaining the status quo and hiring a new police chief for Saddleback, or combining our department with Irvine Valley College’s, the firm also suggested employing security guards to provide personnel support or contracting with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department rather than having a dedicated campus police force.
Because the Saddleback Campus Police are currently short-staffed, there is concern that the college is in need of more efficient security. But in reality, how much better would an outside department be than the campus police?
President Tod A. Burnett has not received the final report from the consultant yet, so the fate of the campus police is still up for debate.
Let’s consider the latter two possibilities first. If the college hires security guards to fill up the vacant positions, they will be even less effective in crime prevention. Not being academy-trained police officers, they may lack the authority to arrest suspects or use force when a situation demands it.
Eliminating the police department entirely and contracting with the Sheriff’s Department may ease financial troubles, but the campus police we have now already understands how Saddleback works and are well-known throughout the campus. As a result, the response time from an outsourced department may be significantly slower than an in-house police force.
On the other hand, if we retain the Saddleback Campus Police, all we have to do is hire one full-time and one part-time officer, along with a police chief. Even if we consolidate with the IVC department and only hire one chief for the entire district, they would still have better knowledge of the campuses than contracted security guards. Who knows? We may even save money by not revamping the entire department.