The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Changes inside and outside the Los Rios Police Department

Los Rios District Police office building by City College’s east parking garage (James Fife/[email protected])

Hours before sunrise on the first day of October 2020, the City College campus sat silent and empty, looking as though no one had been there for six months.

Three cars were the only ones parked in front of the Los Rios Police Department at 5:07 a.m. On a typical Thursday morning in October, the parking garage and lots surrounding the campus police building would soon be densely packed with vehicles displaying parking pass stickers or day-use parking permits.

Due to the pandemic, campus closures in mid-March throughout the Los Rios Community College District lead to a significant decrease in the number of people campus patrol officers encounter, though they are still on daily duty.

According to Sal Rendon, a campus patrol officer, after the college closed, everything changed.

“It’s a ghost town. You don’t see anybody,” Rendon said. “It went from about 100% to about 5% as far as anyone being here. We just don’t see a population.”

People still take advantage of the empty space in the absence of students. According to Sgt. Brian Washington of the Los Rios District Police Department, a new crowd of visitors has appeared on campus.

“The light rail stop is still in use on campus, which draws some foot traffic. People also access the campus to walk as exercise,” Washington said. “We get a lot of transient population coming in looking for places to sleep because there’s not a lot of students going around and not a lot of activities. They come in during the day, and they’ll generally crash out on a bench.

“In addition, we’re also getting a lot of families here because, I guess, a lot of the gym facilities are shut down,” Washington said. “They are basically walking the campus. So that’s kind of a nice thing.”

According to Rendon, most City College administrators, faculty and staff are working from home. But, he said, the changes in staffing, including facilities management staff, has taken a toll on the campus’ appearance.

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“Things aren’t being kept up, and that’s a shame,” said Rendon. “We’ve seen a lot of spider webs. They slowed staffing so the lawns haven’t been mowed. The trees aren’t being trimmed, and the bushes haven’t been manicured.”

The lack of people on campus has also affected the number of campus patrol officers needed for City College, according to Rendon.

“We started with 26 people, and now we’re down to eight,” Rendon said.

But Valerie Cox, police captain for the Los Rios Community College District, said that there are enough patrol officers employed to keep campuses secure.

“There is monitoring for the college 24/7 and we’re making sure that faculty and staff are safe on the campus grounds,” said Cox. “We’re also making sure that our security pursuing our facilities are secure and that we’re here to respond to any sort of issues that might come up. So we definitely have enough staff on duty to make sure that we are meeting all of our obligations to make our students safe and our facility secure.”

Washington said that on-campus calls for service are almost nonexistent, which poses a challenge in training new additions to the department.

“We had just hired two new officers just as this thing broke,” said Washington. “[So], we have two more people who, unfortunately, are starting right now and we’re really struggling to get them to experience dealing with people. We have to kind of use scenarios, role-playing, and things like that to supplement our training.”

According to Rendon, the LRPD has provided the remaining officers with everything they need to stay safe during the pandemic.

“With COVID 19, they gave us gloves, hand sanitizer, and masks. They’re doing a really good job at taking care of employees here at the police department,” said Rendon. “To keep things sanitary for ourselves—our protection—which I give them credit for a lot. They’re doing a good job. They actually care about us.”

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