By CONNOR BROWN
Last year, Pima Community College Police Department was reviewed on procedure by the International Association of College Law Enforcement Administrators.
The Loaned Executive Management Assistance Program sent IACLEA representatives who brought up a number of issues within the department that the report said “has led to a degree of management and operational ineffectiveness and inefficiency and lack of accountability.”
Chief Christopher Albers, head of PCCPD, is committed to changing this. He initiated the review of department procedures from IACLEA and has instituted a number of changes in order to correct the problems brought up in the report.
“(IACLEA) brings other chiefs from other institutions like ours, and they conduct an assessment of operations, policies and procedures,” Albers said. “I was new to the college and I felt I needed a means by which I could get a handle of what’s happening here and within the department.”
Besides adopting a “community-oriented philosophy” while policing, the department is involved in a number of community outreach programs.
PCCPD has volunteered for Special Olympics events, helped with an annual toy drive and hosts the Pathways to Justice intern program for high school students interested in pursuing a law enforcement-related major. There is even a new program called Doughnuts With DPS where students are able to visit and chat with officers in a relaxed environment and even get some food.
“Overall, I have seen positive attitudes in our officers as it pertains to these changes,” said Corporal Blum, DUI coordinator for PCCPD. “We have gone from a mindset of not only keeping our community safe, but we are now also focused on making our community feel safe as well. We do this every day by talking with the public and assessing their safety concerns throughout all of PCC.”
Another problem brought up in the report was equipment not being upgraded in the department.
“We are updating a lot of equipment,” Albers said. “We are phasing out our outdated mobile data terminals in our cars, and we’ve acquired an all-electric motorcycle which is a great tool for enforcement and great for public relations.”
The motorcycle was acquired through a grant provided by the ArizonaGovernor’s Office of Highway Safety.
PCCPD also seeks to attain IACLEA accreditation. The process “means to assure the public, parents and the university community that your campus public safety agency adheres to the highest professional standards,” according to the IACLEA website.
“We are updating every single PCCPD policy in order to meet this goal,” Blum said. “We are handlingit as efficiently as possible, but the workload involved is significant. Once this iscompleted, I do not see any roadblock keeping us from achieving this accreditation.”
Albers said Pima is in the early stages of earning accreditation, and it’s a three-to-five-year process.
“The biggest hurdle for our goals is our current enrollment crisis and our current salary crisis,” he said. “It’s really important that the college bein good financial health for us to keep moving forward. If the budget keeps shrinking, the resources we have keep shrinking as well.”