By Sarah Lapidus
Special to The Guardsman
After nearly 10 months without a chief of police, City College is still not planning to hire a new chief any time soon, according to administration officials.
“We’re quickly taking a look at potentially restructuring that area, potentially creating a director of emergency preparedness to which the chief of police would report,” said Dianna Gonzales, vice chancellor of human resources. “Currently, the chief of police reports to the vice chancellor of finance and administration, and currently that position is vacant.”
Former Chief Andre Barnes, who unsuccessfully fought for years to arm City College police officers with firearms, retired in July 2017.
This is not the first time the chief of police position was left open. When Barnes was hired in 2009, the position had been vacant for two years.
“Certainly you would like those positions to be filled as quickly as possible,” Barnes said, but that it can sometimes take a long time to find the right candidate.
A search committee made up of administration, faculty, and staff members was established to recruit and hire a new chief. But the committee recommended not hiring any candidate because the “pool was very small,” according to Chancellor Mark Rocha’s January 2018 written report to the board of trustees.
Gonzales would not disclose the names or number of people who made up the search committee.
According to Gonzales, the small number of qualified candidates could be a due to a range of factors, such as the cost of living in San Francisco, the pay, and that City College police officers are unarmed. The position was advertised with a pay scale of $95,665 to $162,239.
Until a new chief is hired, the chancellor recommended naming Lt. Jason Wendt, the highest ranking officer in the department, as acting chief.
Gonzales said Wendt will be in place “probably through next December.”
“Until we get things a bit more settled we are likely not going to begin recruitment, at least for this academic year,” Gonzales said.
The proposed restructuring, if it took place, would provide “more support to the CCSF Police Department since the chief would report to someone whose career has been in law enforcement,” Rocha wrote in his January 2018 report to the board of trustees.
Even though they do not carry firearms, members of the Community College Police Department are sworn peace officers, the same as other municipal law enforcement officers. The agency meets the requirements of the California Peace Officer Standards and Training, and City College officers have the power to issue citations and make arrests.
Some schools, such as Berkeley City College and Laney College, do not have their own police department, but instead contract out to their district’s local police. Other schools, such as community colleges in the San Mateo district, employ security guards rather than sworn peace officers.
College of Marin, who has their own police department, had an interim police chief for six months before their current chief was hired.