Program preps future officers
By Alex Lamp/The Guardsman
Since 1947, many of San Francisco’s law enforcement officers have begun their careers at City College, serving on campus and studying in the school’s Administrative Justice program.
Student law enforcement officers are here to learn and provide security to the campus.
Gerald DeGirolamo has been teaching Administrative Justice at City College since 1974 and was the school’s chief of police until 2003. He now teaches patrol procedures and oversees a fieldwork class while advising the Student Campus Service Club.
After students learn the penal code, criminal law, evidence, juvenile techniques and related procedures, they can get into uniform and take the fieldwork class.
There are 15 students in uniform who rotate their duties daily and are expected to clock in between six and eight hours per week.
The program is beneficial to both the students and the college. It is low-cost, offers an effective law enforcement experience to students interested in joining the police academy and generates revenue for the college by enforcing parking rules on campus.
“Many students have gone into the police department after they leave here,” DeGirolamo said. “At least 70 percent go into law enforcement somewhere, mostly SFPD.”
At $4,000 a semester, uniforms are the program’s only expense.
DeGirolamo wonders why his student’s citation revenue is not reincorporated back into the CCSF Parking and Transportation Committee.
“I would say that the student officers generate from $40,000 to $50,000 a semester to the district’s general fund,” DeGirolamo said.
In addition to writing parking citations, students in the fieldwork class patrol campus buildings and offer help to anyone who approaches them.
“They get a feeling of how to handle themselves in uniform and how to talk to people,” DeGirolamo said.
Humair Khan, sergeant of the student officers, is often confronted by disgruntled students to whom he’s issued tickets. On one occasion, it was a teacher who gave him a little trouble.
“He yelled at me because I was issuing a ticket to an employee. I said to him ‘if you don’t have a permit on your car, you’re going to get a ticket,’” Khan said.
In addition to their other duties, student officers also handle crowd control at football games and volunteer at Special Olympics events.
During the end of the spring 2013 semester when crime was prevalent in the Wellness Center, things had to change for the student officers at City College.
“It kind of put a damper on what we were doing at first because it got to the point where we weren’t allowed to go out by ourselves,” Nicole Scherle, captain of the student officers, said.
They would patrol three to four times through each building, instead of the usual once through, to make their presence known.
Scherle and the other student officers said the disconnect between students and officers is something they want to change.
“It could be more of a personal goal for all of us to start talking to everybody so they know who we are, and that we are not out just to write them a ticket,” Scherle said.