By Robin Hattersley Gray · April 5, 2011
At first glance, it might be tempting to think that California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) Chief of Police Jimmie Brown is all about numbers and crime statistics. Why? Because they are very good. Between 2009 and 2010, part one crimes on campus declined by more than 37 percent. Larcenies decreased from 106 to 73, and motor vehicle thefts decreased from 23 to four during that same year. That’s not too shabby a performance considering the city of San Bernardino’s vehicle theft rate is nearly 2.85 percent greater than the national average (its murder rate is 3.24 percent higher).
But cutting crime takes a lot of hard work, networking and leadership. And let’s not forget the budget challenges that all school, university and hospital public safety, security and emergency management departments are currently facing. The fact that crime decreased at CSUSB under such trying circumstances is impressive enough.
However, a reduction in incidents hasn’t been the only success Brown and his department have experienced recently. They also consolidated their dispatch with local community colleges and agencies to achieve cost savings and improve service. Additionally, CSUSB’s police department established a satellite office near the dorms, set up a video surveillance room, took over parking enforcement and secured approximately $300,000 in grants from the public and private sectors. These funds paid for things like a mobile command vehicle, a dispatch upgrade, interoperable radios, a seatbelt campaign and a drunk driving prevention campaign, not to mention campus security infrastructure improvements.
These and many other accomplishments are what led four industry experts chosen by Campus Safety magazine to designate Brown as this year’s Campus Safety Director of the Year.
Proactive Approach Pays Off
One attribute of Brown’s that has led to his department’s success is his eagerness to address issues promptly, says CSUSB PD Sergeant Le Andre Fields. “Chief Brown has always taken a proactive approach when finding ways to address the safety of the community,” he tells CS.
Indeed, last year Brown immediately rolled up his sleeves and got to work when he noticed a disturbing spike in parking lot incidents that involved someone breaking into and stealing cars, and taking catalytic converters.
“When I see three vehicle burglaries, I don’t wait until I see 20 to do something,” Brown says.
The chief and his department put together a task force and stationed plain-clothes officers in unmarked cars in the campus parking lots. CSUSB PD partnered with the San Bernardino Unified School District and borrowed the Colton (Calif.) Police Department’s surveillance van. Brown also obtained a vehicle from a local towing company that his department could use as bait - money and a backpack were left in the car to lure the suspects.[IMAGE]1624[/IMAGE]
The results of the operation were impressive and quick. In only one month, the three individuals suspected of being responsible for the crime spree were apprehended.
“The guy with the catalytic converter - we caught him underneath a vehicle stealing it,” Brown claims. Since their arrests, parking lot incidents have decreased significantly.
Police Partner With Residence Life
The chief and his department’s proactive approaches were also responsible for a 34 percent decrease in alcohol incidents, thefts and domestic violence in the residence halls. CSUSB PD achieved this reduction by partnering with residence life personnel to put a police substation next to the residents’ mail boxes. The move has increased officer visibility in the area as well as decreased response times to incidents.
“There really aren’t many problems with our dorms, but I wanted to put the police officers there so the residents could come to them if they have an issue,” Brown adds.
Additionally, the substation and partnership has helped foster cross-training opportunities between the police department and residence life.
CSUSB Consolidates Its Dispatch
Networking with members of the greater San Bernardino community is another strategy that has paved the way for Brown and his department’s success. One initiative that has paid dividends has been the consolidation of dispatch services with local community colleges and other agencies. Now CSUSB PD answers the 911 calls and business calls for Chaffey College’s three campuses and the San Bernardino County Public Defender’s investigation office. Currently, other community colleges are considering joining the partnership.
For Chaffey College, the change has improved safety on campus while reducing its exposure to liability. Previously, its dispatch center consisted of one employee with a radio at the front counter. The center was only open from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week and closed on the weekends. Now with the new agreement with CSUSB PD, Chaffey has dispatch services round-the-clock.