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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Race and policing reevaluated

During a recent media teleconference, California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley suggested those in attendance make a careful examination of the Los Angeles Community College District Framework for Racial Equity and Social Justice first published on July 8.

“In my day in the neighborhood, I had a long experience with the Los Angeles County Sheriff, so I understand the sensitivity,” Oakley said. “Take a look at the call to action from the Chancellor’s office. We lay out some very specific asks to all of our colleges. One of them is to take a hard look at law enforcement training.“

Signed by 21 members of the Chancellor’s cabinet, including LACCD Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez and Los Angeles Pierce College President Alexis Montevirgen, the document includes a commitment to “engage with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Community College Bureau to begin an immediate review of the bureau’s contract for services,” according to the press release.

The document includes topics such as community policing, de-escalation techniques, risk assessment and establishing mandated cultural proficiency, anti-bias and cultural responsiveness training, according to the press release. 

It also addresses developing student leadership opportunities within the program.

“Students should be at the center of advising the college leadership on what we expect policing to look like on every college campus,” according to Oakley.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Community College Bureau was formed, and their policies are what is currently seen on campus at Pierce.

There is a working pool of sheriff deputies and sheriff security officers and cadets. Cadets are uniformed, non law enforcement personnel who are employed part time by the district. They work hand in hand with the Sheriff’s Department. As such, the district is their immediate supervisor.

Under the guidance of Team Leader Sheriff Deputy Nick Saldivar, Pierce’s cadets are responsible for a variety of tasks on campus, but the requirements of the program are that they remain full-time students of the college.

Currently, the cadet program is still active, and there are between two to five working on the campus. 

The type of the training they receive is strictly on the job. They are given support and guidance from the deputies that call Pierce College home. 

Saldizar said the cadet program, so far, has been a success.

“Based on our security officers, our deputies who work here, and our cadets, we’ve been able to keep crime on the low end,” Saldivar said. “I’d always like to see more law enforcement personnel on campus, especially a campus of this size, however, with what we have, we’ve made it work exceptionally well.”

With a large student and faculty population, and a 426 acre campus situated within a dense metropolis to patrol, there are almost always concerns for the team at Pierce.

“Regardless of whether we have students on campus, faculty on campus or absolutely nobody on campus, we are not an island,” Saldivar said. “Everything in our surroundings has the ability to come onto the campus.”

The Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) was established by the California legislature in 1959 to set minimum selection and training standards for California law enforcement officers. 

The deputies who work for the LASD at Pierce have to attend a 20 week POST certified police academy as part of their basic training. Both the LASD and the Los Angeles Police Department operate their own officer training academies.

It is POST’s responsibility to update and to modernize training methods for law enforcement officers employed in the State of California. 

Their training bulletins are routinely sent out to sheriff and police departments, according to Administration of Justice professor Kathy Oborn who was selected to serve a three year term on the California Commission on POST.

The commission draws additional expertise from all three branches of the criminal justice system and an advisory board.

“In my experience, they (POST) are constantly reviewing, constantly monitoring and modernizing their training bulletins,” Oborn said. “They spend all of their time making sure that law enforcement agencies have the best practices.”

When agencies receive those revised POST standards, they bear the responsibility to ensure their officers are in compliance with them.

Olborn, who once served with the Los Angeles Police Department, commented on the importance of the Continuing Professional Training requirement (CPT) mandated by POST.

“When I was with the LAPD, we had training once a month,” Oborn said. “We had a training day where we would learn new techniques or practices, or review protocols or procedures.”

The effectiveness of CPT and POST is measured by the actions of individual officers out in the field and of the agency they work for in ensuring their employees are in full compliance with the latest POST standards.

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