Publish Date : 8/18/2016 at 9:32 AM
By Bruce Baron
POSTED: 08/17/16, 5:56 PM PDT | SAN BERNARDINO SUN
September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month, when educators stress the importance of the safety of the campus community and increasing awareness of those issues related to ensuring the safety of our schools.
Our very dedicated district Police Department serves a vital role in the day-to-day peaceful administration of the San Bernardino Community College District, which, with multiple sites and more than 1,600 employees and more than 40,000 students year-round, is the equivalent of a small city.
National Campus Safety Awareness Month, created in 2008, focuses on advocacy, education and training, and supporting policy initiatives and legislation that address issues related to the frightening realities colleges and universities face, including such destructive behaviors and violence as high risk drinking, illegal drug use, prescription drug abuse, sexual assault, stalking, relationship violence, hazing, hate crimes, and fire safety.
The SBCCD is committed to the Police Department’s mission, “to provide a safe and secure learning and working environment for all students and employees … through a cooperative and coordinated effort involving all departments and the college employees, law enforcement agencies and the community.”
To that end, they have full law enforcement powers of arrest, meet or exceed training requirements mandated by the California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training, and have entered into reciprocal agreements with all the local law enforcement agencies in our service area. The department operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, under Chief of Police Pierre Galvez, with seven officers, 11 campus security officers, a dispatcher and an administrative secretary.
Recognized this year in the Campus Climate Survey as one of the most helpful and professional of the district, the SBCCD Police Department has numerous responsibilities, including complying with the annual federal government’s Clery Act/Annual Security Report (Clery Report) requirement, so-named after a young woman murdered in a campus dorm.
Since 1990, colleges and universities must publish an annual report detailing security policies, and three years of campus crime statistics for certain offenses. Educational institutions with police or security agencies like ours must keep a public crime log, and alert students and staff of timely warnings for crimes that pose an ongoing threat. The Clery Report is available on or before Oct. 1 each year online on the district homepage (sbccd.org) and police web pages, and in hard copy through the Police Department’s offices at San Bernardino Valley College and Crafton Hills College. Copies are also distributed throughout the district’s sites.
A review of the SBCCD’s Clery Report crime statistics indicates an annual decrease in crimes both on and off-sites, the most common ones reported being vehicle theft, burglary, drug and alcohol violations, and sexual and domestic violence, a result of and in tribute to ongoing policies of open communication, access to officers, and provision of information, educational activities and partnerships with other organizations and agencies that can provide support in times of crisis.
For instance, sexual and domestic violence issues, including child sexual abuse, are of grave concern to our officers, as such crimes cross all ages, genders, races, ethnicities and economic backgrounds, and survivors often do not come forward willingly. Because of the serious nature of these matters, our Board of Trustees has a no-tolerance Sexual Assault Policy requiring our Police Department to “investigate all allegations of sexual assault and take appropriate disciplinary, criminal, or legal action” and clearly setting forth the guaranteed actions included in that directive, with the aim of creating a safe harbor for those who have been subject to such violence.
In the hopes of preventing such assaults and assisting those who might want additional information, the department’s website provides brochures, videos, acquaintance and date rape prevention suggestions and a student packet of steps to take regarding Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking. In addition, officers in the department provide on-campus trainings, both regularly scheduled and upon request. They also support survivors reporting crimes, documenting the crimes, protecting themselves and vulnerable family members, and working with the San Bernardino Sexual Assault Services or Yucaipa Outreach. All relevant information is available to the public as well on http://www.sbccd.org/District_Police/Sexual_Assault or through Chief Galvez at 909-384-4491.
The SBCCD Police Department has grave responsibility for the lives and property of the students, faculty, staff, administrators and visitors to our sites. We are proud of the job they do.
They help make our district a wonderful place to work and to get an education.
Bruce Baron is chancellor of San Bernardino Community College District.