Glendale Community College trustees have voted to turn the campus security service into a police department, allowing two full-time employees to become sworn officers and make arrests.
Until now, security officers made only citizen’s arrests, and had to detain suspects until Glendale police arrived, administrators said.
Under the old method, there was “concern that that response time wouldn’t be quick enough,” Donald F. Averill, the college’s administrative dean of human resources, said Wednesday. “We felt we would have been better off if we were able to arrest immediately.”
Police defended their record with the college, but agreed that it should benefit from having its own peace officers.
“Our response time is excellent. Our service level to the community is excellent,” said Sgt. Lief Nicolaisen. The change “gives them a little bit of an edge in controlling crime. I think it’s going to help them to keep the campus a safe place.”
Neither police nor campus officials said crime has been on the rise at the college. Fights and confrontations involving weapons have occurred over the years but are rare, officials and police said.
“We’ve actually had a decrease in crimes reported last year, compared to the previous year,” said Steve Wagg, security services supervisor. No statistics were available Wednesday.
Security officials also believe that the switch--effective when it was unanimously approved Monday--would make the campus force more professional-looking.
“It gives more confidence to the students and public who attend the institution,” said Mike Southerland, whose title has been changed from campus safety director to police chief.
Southerland and Wagg have certified training experience and are the only two peace officers on campus. They will not be armed and will still detain suspects on campus until police arrive to bring them to jail. However, they will have broader powers to conduct investigations and they will now be able to request search warrants from judges.