Understaffed campus police overseen by Dean Santos

Acting Dean of Student Affairs Rod Santos spends much of his time in his new office at the headquarters of the City College police department in Cloud Hall. CLIVE WALKER / GUARDSMAN

By Natalie Coreas
Staff Writer

The San Francisco City College District Police Department will be looking for a new chief of police starting Oct. 2 said Rod Santos, acting dean of student affairs.

According to a resolution approved unanimously at a board of trustees meeting on Aug. 28, Santos’ duties as acting dean of student affairs have been temporarily increased to allow oversight of administrative aspects of the police department. Santos will also continue to work as acting dean of student affairs until an interim dean of student affairs is selected.

Santos said he only handles the administrative aspects of the campus police department, such as scheduling, budgets, supplies and training. Although he has no experience in law enforcement, Santos said he is fully qualified to do the job.

“I have not gone through [Peace Officer Standards and Training] because I am not a sworn police officer. With regards to our department of public safety, I am a civilian administrator recommended by the Chancellor to the board [of trustees] until a permanent chief of police is hired … I rely on consultants and the officers, and although I do not have experience in law enforcement, I have been in the educational system for 35 years,” Santos said.

The resolution cited vacancies in the department as the reason for Santos’ increased duties. The campus police currently do not have a chief of police and has also experienced the recent resignation of a sergeant, Santos said.

“The duties of the police are the same as they always were,” said Christian Smith, a campus police officer. “There are enough people to do the job, but we are down a couple of officers. Regardless, [the campus police] are still out there, enforcing the law and trying to keep the campus safe.”

Sergeant Kenneth Baccetti served as City College’s acting chief of police for 14 months before Santos’ duties were increased. “This position was only supposed to be for a couple of months. Currently, Baccetti serves as the duty sergeant for all district campuses, and is stationed at the John Adams campus,” Santos said.

Carl Koehler, the previous chief of police for City College, held the position for three years but resigned in July of 2007 over what he says was dispute with the board of trustees. Koehler said his decision was motivated by a lack of interest from the previous board over several issues, including preparing and equipping the campus police for emergency and confrontational situations.

“It was not just the firearms,” Koehler said, referring to City College’s controversial policy of not arming its officers. “I was really concerned because we, as a college, didn’t have a plan for emergency preparedness. But the proposal was never seen or taken seriously. I couldn’t get anyone interested in it. In frustration, I resigned,” Koehler said.

Koehler’s proposal called for several changes regarding how the campus police were equipped to handle emergency and dangerous situations on campus. Two of the four options proposed to arm the officers with guns, Koehler said.

“Police officers often responded to calls involving fights, display of weapons and other equally dangerous situations which put students, faculty and staff at risk,” Koehler said. “I felt someone was going to get hurt.”

Santos said that he was not directly involved in the dispute between Koehler and the administration, as he was only the acting dean of student affairs at that time.

Plans are under way to hire a new chief of police, Santos said. Qualified applicants will be reviewed by a hiring committee that will include the college police, City College classified and administrative staff and students, Santos said.

“We are holding interviews, and the candidates that stand out will get a chance to meet with the officers and the staff,” Santos said. The most suitable candidates will then be recommended to the chancellor, Santos said.

City College employs 23 police officers, ten security officers, two dispatchers and one administrative assistant, according to Debbie Ramirez-Chase, the administrative assistant for the campus police.

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