San Marcos,
16:19 PM

Campus Police Make Community Engagement a Top Priority

By Whitney Frasier

There have been many headlines about the relationship between citizens across the country and those in blue. But the police department at California State University San Marcos is working hard to set the record straight – they work with community members to resolve social problems, not against them.

“Policing a free society is challenging because there is a delicate balance between keeping a society free as much as possible and taking away some freedoms for the safety and security of the public,” said police officer Matthew Curran.

The main goal of the University Police Department’s (UPD) new division – known as the Policing and Community Engagement (PACE) office – is to strengthen community relationships while protecting the rights of the people, ultimately helping society function better.

“We want our officers to build relationships with students, staff and faculty,” Curran said. “By creating these relationships with our community, the campus becomes safer because it allows for a free flow of communication between the campus and the police department.”

An open line of communication allows everyone to work together on issues and come up with solutions as a team. This gives everyone an opportunity to be heard, or simply feeling comfortable to report conflict when necessary.

“It also allows the department to keep the community informed on our efforts to protect them,” Curran said. “As a department, we want students to know that we are here to support them in their academic career. We do this by maintaining a safe academic environment for everyone.”

The PACE office contributes to this goal by educating the campus members through a series of safety trainings in the areas of self-defense, personal safety, alcohol awareness, fire safety and other topics. PACE also supports student organization by providing support staff and event safety planning.

Curran was once part of the campus community himself, attending CSUSM for a degree in political science. It was his interactions with UPD back then that made him change course and pursue law enforcement.

“I had such a great experience with the department and interacting with the campus community that I jumped at the opportunity to work beside them,” Curran said. “Several of the officers I encountered at the time inspired me to take the law enforcement route. They really loved what they did and taught me that a police officer’s responsibility goes above one’s self. We are public servants and we are entrusted with the great responsibility to keep our community safe.”

Curran hopes that the rest of campus can share the same experiences he did.

“We are working hard to ensure the campus knows we are all equal and that we are as much a part of the community as they are – not some outlying entity with no connection to them,” Curran said. “We want them to feel safe and know they can come to us for help and protection.”

Anyone interested in safety courses, a ride-along or other events hosted by the police department on campus should visit the UPD website.