Police Chief Iwasa improving communication within department

Camille Anglo

Sacramento State’s police chief Mark Iwasa has been working to implement several new changes to the campus police department and the campus.

Since becoming police chief in January, Iwasa has been building relationships with his staff. He said like any job, establishing relationships are hard, but he has felt welcomed so far.

“Part of my efforts thus far is figuring out the staff and faculty that I’ll be dealing with,” Iwasa said. “Kind of getting to know the department, letting the department get to know me a little bit, that’s what I primarily have been doing.”

Corporal Paul Skrinie, who has worked with the campus police department for more than eight years, said the department has improved since Iwasa became chief.

“I think we communicate better now,” Skrinie said. “It is way better and direct communication. It’s impacting our department in a positive way.”

Skrinie said he could tell Iwasa was a good candidate when he heard him speak while he was running for chief.

“A couple of times when I was present at his speeches, my impression was that he was the best candidate from what we had during the selection of the chiefs,” Skrinie said.

Iwasa’s main focus as chief is to maintain campus safety. Iwasa said the department is initiating the conversion of the locking systems on campus to increase the safety of the buildings.

“You can imagine in an emergency that the university would like to lockdown the buildings to keep an assailant out of buildings,” Iwasa said. “You can’t really do that with hard keys unless you run around and do it by hand and that takes far too long in most circumstances to be effective from a safety standpoint, it’s a huge initiative for us.”

Sac State senior history major Francis Omila said card keys on campus would help benefit the buildings that have been recently upgraded.

“I think it’d be good if it happened eventually,” Omila said. “If we’re moving towards more state of the art, having card keys would be more common. It would help the school and give it a long term benefit to protect the school.”

Along with improving the campus’ locking system, Iwasa is bringing a quicker emergency notification system that will notify students and staff through Facebook and Twitter.

“We have already embarked on providing detailed updates and bulletins to the campus community when we have bona fide suspect information,” Iwasa said. “We do that and the campus is aware of what’s going on, and also we hope to derive some tip information in doing so.”

The new system will also share information beneficial to students and staff, such as location of traffic jams near the campus, Iwasa said.

“We hope to readily provide information to the campus community through social media on things that are going on with the department including things that might be of interest to students and faculty,” Iwasa said. “We hope to keep the campus community more involved and all they really have to do is sign up for the police department on Facebook or Twitter.”

Iwasa has been working to enhance police presence on campus and the relationships between campus police and students, staff and faculty.

“I think our officers are very adept at conducting detailed investigations that are revolving the vast majority of crimes that come to our attention,” Iwasa said. “In doing so, we have created many good relationships with faculty and staff here that we rely upon.”

As the police chief, Iwasa’s leadership style consists of honesty and swift reparation of the root of problems.

“I will tell people how it is, whether it’s going to make them happy or not, it’s going to be the truth and people seem to be able to deal with the truth fairly well,” Iwasa said. “That’s what my employees pretty much expect of me at this point and that would be a pretty appropriate expectation.”

Skrinie said Iwasa is a good head for the department because of his leadership skills.

“He is a very powerful leader,” Skrinie said. “He’s very knowledgeable, skillful and a sharp individual and a great leader.”

Iwasa, who worked at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department for 25 years, said the scope of the campus police department compared to the sheriff’s department is different in terms of budget.

“Certainly, we are looking at our operations in terms of budgetary constraint that are coming down the tube,” Iwasa said. “How we adjust to that is very important.”

Although both departments differ, a campus department requires more responsibility in order to help students and maintain a campus’ safe environment, Iwasa said.

“On a campus versus in a municipal department or a sheriff’s department, there is way more responsibility and emphasis on the preventative aspect,” Iwasa said. “Sometimes in larger agencies, the best you can do is respond after the fact, but here I think we certainly have more responsibility to educate and prevent and we take that mission very seriously.”

Camille Anglo can be reached at [email protected].