Community Service Officers help maintain low crime rate

Ashley Hurtado

By having one of the largest Community Service Officer programs, Sacramento State remains one of the safest campuses in the California State University system.  

According to the 2013 Campus Clery Report, from 2010 to 2012, Sac State experienced three forcible-sex-offenses, five robberies, five aggravated assaults, 59 burglaries, 13 motor vehicle thefts and five arson cases

Other universities, such as San Diego State University, had significantly higher crime-rate statistics.

The 2013 Campus Clery Report for San Diego State shows that during the same period, 29 forcible-sex-offenses, 16 robberies, 18 aggravated assaults, 153 burglaries, 78 motor vehicle thefts and five arson cases took place.

Sacramento State Police Chief Mark Iwasa said the structure of the campus and police efforts have contributed to the low-crime rate at Sac State.

“The configuration of the campus has a lot to do with the low-crime rates because it only has two-ways in and two-ways out, and also a very highly-deployed CSO program,” Iwasa said.

With 60 community service officers monitoring the campus 24 hours a day, the university is one of the largest and more effective campus police organizations in the CSU system.

Officer Hector Huizar said due to their high numbers, police is available throughout the university and can serve the needs of the student body more effectively than campus police.  

“We are the eyes and ears for the police department because we are out on foot, and the officer is in his (or her) car,” Huizar said. “We are easier to reach and more accessible.”

Iwasa said students would have a hard time not seeing community service officers due to the number of them roaming campus, and that is university’s intent.

Officer Daniel Knox said community service officers contribute to low-crime rates on campus by making their presence known.

“We want people to see us and be deterred, as well as we want people to come up to us and ask us questions,” Knox said.

Knox said students are more likely to reach out to community service officers than a police officer because community service officers are Sac State students too.  

“If they see an (police) officer they might back off because they had a bad experience with the police,” Knox said.

The officers work at the university for two reasons: making sure everybody is safe and to building a sense of community between police and students.

Knox said the campus has one of the shortest crime-response in the CSU system because of the 150 blue phones found across the campus.

Community service officers and police can now reach students requiring help, anywhere on campus in three to five minutes, Knox said.

During the last 10 years, Sac State police has also incrementally added surveillance cameras.

Sac State has more than 500 cameras on campus, and is planning to install more. In the last couple years, camera footage helped the university solve burglary and theft crimes, Iwasa said.

Last semester, surveillance cameras helped campus police find the ring of criminals responsible for the theft of catalytic converters, but Iwasa said students should know footage is not actively monitored by the department.  

The main purpose of the devices is not to prevent crime, but to retrieve data after the fact. The problem with the current surveillance system is many cameras were installed years ago and are not functioning properly.

“There are dozens of those cameras that are outdated and are no longer very valuable and need to be replaced,” Iwasa said.

The university tries to obtain the funding for this equipment through a variety of means. Homeland Security grant monies will be paying for some of the new cameras installed on campus, Iwasa said.

Selena Chiang, sophomore business major said university police services makes her feel safe on campus.

“Although they look so young, and I wonder if they can protect me, its is nice to have them around,” Chiang said.