Campus police strive to protect students in all areas

Officer Jeff Hsu prepares to set out on his routine patrol of the Saddleback campus. (Lariat file photo)

Norelle Lohmann

From writing parking citations to preparing for disaster such as an earthquake or fire, the Saddleback College Campus Police are as busy as the students they strive to protect.

“We have the ability to be community policing at its best,” said veteran officer Dan Lincoln. “We can design our enforcement to meet the needs of the community.”

The entire department is required to go through POST (Police Officers Standard Training), which requires officers to meet the same standards as all police officers in California.

“[The] K-12 and community college police officers actually have to have about an additional 60 hours training so they know how to [interact] with the college community,” Lincoln said.

Harry Parmer, director of safety and security and chief of campus police, and Jim Pyle, deputy chief, are both former Marines and have been working at Saddleback for over 15 years. Lincoln has been at Saddleback College since 1991.

Lincoln feels very strongly that students should be aware of college policies related to their rights and responsibilities. Campus police do their best to make sure that every student has the ability to be well informed should they care to be. A “Your Right to Know” section is available on the campus police Web site.  The department also provides a Crime Blotter so that every student can be aware of any crimes that occur on campus.

The Web site also features a “Community Resources” page that has contact information for victims of rape, a suicide hot line, therapy for those who may need it, and shelters.

It is also possible to purchase parking passes online, whether they are for a semester, a year, or just the summer session. Although there is a small fee for the online purchase, it saves students the trouble of going down to the parking services area on time they may not have in order to obtain a pass.

“We really like the students to use the online pass service because it is easier for both the students and our staff,” Lincoln said.

There are also daily passes that can be purchased in specific lots for $2 per day, although students are confined to parking only in Lots 1, 5A, 10, or 13 if they use a daily pass.

In the future, some of the parking is going to be redesigned to be more effective for both the staff and the students, making it easier for everyone, Lincoln said.

Lincoln said there is a problem with students parking in faculty parking when they can’t find parking in close proximity to their classes.     

The new redesign is intended to make the parking more effective and cause less confusion. As a result, fewer parking citations will have to be issued, Lincoln said.

The information and services that the Campus Police provides, however, is not simply confined to the web site.

There are always at least two fully armed officers on duty and patrolling during the day, in addition to the security personnel that are on campus and the officers that are assigned to desk duty.

There are nine field officers who work in shifts so that there is always an officer on duty in case of any disturbance, or if a student simply needs an escort to or from a class, which is another one of the services they provide.

Officers are available to assist the students in any way that they are needed, and one of the lesser-known services is the escort service. A student who needs help going from one area to another, or simply wishes to feel safer, can call Campus Police and request an escort, regardless of the hour.

Campus Police is constantly changing in order to improve efficiency on campus and its ability to protect the students of Saddleback. It recently acquired new radios that are linked directly to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the Orange County Fire Authority so that it is always aware of what is happening in the area around the school and can contact them whenever backup is required.

“All of our officers are trained in First Aid and CPR,” Lincoln said. “We equip our officers with AEDs, that’s the Automatic Electronic Defibrillator [in case] someone [goes into] cardiac arrest.

“We encourage students to call us first [at ext. 4444],” he said. “Don’t just dial 911, because if you dial 911, you could have a fire unit responding and not knowing where to go.”

The response time for one of the officers is significantly less than that of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and so it is in the students’ benefit to take advantage of the services that they provide, Lincoln said.

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