Jim Davis, a history professor at Mt San Jacinto College, responds to the MSJC Police budget and cost thread on Ann Motte's blog, with the commentary below.
He questions whether the existing police force is necessary, calls into further question their boasting of ticketing the residents of the city, when they're supposed to provide campus security...
Ann:I tend to agree with Jim and Ann on this issue. It's not the responsibility of the community college system to provide city policing. The state should redirect that money elsewhere, either at teachers and students, or refunding it back to the people.
The president/superintendent should create an ad hoc group to investigate the college police department. The group should begin with the assumption that an educational institution has its own special security needs, just like hospitals, or department stores, or businesses have specialized needs. We need to look around for functioning models at other colleges. Above all, the group should not shy away from bold recommendations, such as it might behoove us, for a variety of reasons, to replace the current department with something very different.
For many in the faculty, there are grave concerns about the cost, operating procedures, and effectiveness of our current police force. First of all, how much is all this costing, with the roving patrol cars and professional equipment? Are we willing to pay for this rather than more full-time faculty or construction of more buildings on both campuses? Second, does this police force, which resembles a Blackwater unit operating in Baghdad's green zone, really necessary for a campus, or would a more subdued, less costly security force really meet our needs? For example, would it be better to have casually clothed security people patrol regularly by golf cart, on bicycles, or on foot? These could be people who know the faculty, are there for small needs and emergencies, and maintain a reassuringly high profile on our campuses. We had such a force once, and I, for one, very much miss them. We have replaced them with people who are distant and boast of ticketing the general public on off-campus highways, have been rude to faculty and staff (on one occasion ticketing a classified employee $250 for playing her car stereo too loudly), and who join in police operations as far away as Lake Elsinore. How does all this serve higher education? Finally, if we do decide to keep the current force, there needs to be a civilian review board with real teeth that can investigate incidents and review tickets and fines through an appeal process.
Anyway, these are just a few thoughts. I commend you for your sustained interest in the police force, its costs, and its need at our college. They seemed to have entered our college through a grant and now have rooted themselves in the institution. It is time to shine a flood light on all this.
Please feel free to circulate and share this, if you think it helpful.
The tons of comments that all of you readers posted on a previous article, "MSJC Police Jurisdiction", proves that the residents of Menifee are really hungry for law enforcement. Better policing was made into the top argument for cityhood.
Menifee's city council really needs to address law enforcement in this city. It needs to shift police responsibility away from MSJC, and on to the new city itself. If anything, MSJC needs only a campus security, not a full blown police department venturing into the city to ticket drivers for speeding.