Though COVID-19 has largely changed the way students and professors teach and learn, much remains the same for the CSUF police department.
Crime has not taken a backseat with an empty campus, said Captain Scot Willey. In the last couple months the department has made multiple arrests from suspects caught with weapons, breaking into some of the buildings on campus, and someone being heavily intoxicated in the parking structures.
All of these arrests were not students and about 99% of their enforcement on campus is non-student related Willey said.
Willey said most of the arrests in the last couple months have been from suspects running onto campus. For officers, coming in contact and detaining these suspects is difficult when social distancing is expected.
At the start of the semester, Willey said the police department had to check faculty and staff to determine if they were essential before letting them into their offices, which the officers were uncomfortable with at first.
As a precaution, the Environmental Health and Safety Department on campus has been busy disinfecting the police station and squad cars after an arrest to ensure the safety of the officers and their families.
Though Willey said that crime has not slowed down for the department, the virus has still taken a toll on mental health.
“It takes a ginormous toll on our police officers because they are here every day and they are exposed every day,” Willey said.
While trying to stay away from getting sick and having more downtime with an empty campus, the police department has also taken extensive training on proper policing, amid the ongoing protests nationwide on the police’s overuse of force.
Willey said the station has been taking virtual training with the Human Resources department and the Diversity and Equity and Inclusion Program to improve their officers mentally in the field.
“We just did a bunch this week, I think we did about 12 hours of training this week for our department on emotional intelligence and just kind of how to look outside yourself and see others as they are and that you've got your own lens,” Willey said.
Over the past few months, the police have come under scrutiny, but the University Police is spending a lot of their spare time on keeping a strong relationship with the community of Fullerton, Willey said.
“We've done a lot of outreach over the years, I think more than most departments would. But, we need to look at it from a different lens, so we are opening ourselves up to different kinds of suggestions,” Willey said.
Chief of Police Raymund Aguirre said in an email sent to students when the semester started, “Cal State Fullerton Police Department is committed to policing from the center, which means we’re part of the community and not isolated from it.”
In the coming weeks, the police department will be releasing a “Listening and Sharing” tour, which will detail what the department’s strategies are from the training and explain the outreach they have done with the community during this time of unrest, according to the email.
Though the campus has been mostly empty, the police department has remained busy, despite COVID-19 and the civil unrest around the nation.