Tuesday, January 13, 2015

To serve and protect

When people are faced with a crisis or emergency, often times the voice on the other end of a 9-1-1 call can be their only hope that things will be okay. During my first week as VCBAS at UCSC, I toured the Police Department and met our team members who serve in that unit. Whether it was the dispatchers who are that voice on the other end of a call or our parking enforcement team or our sworn police officers, each member of the department plays a critical role in providing a safe campus community. During the "In My Shoes" day with the department, I had the opportunity to delve even deeper into the operations of the unit. Below are some lessons that I took away from the day and that apply to all BAS units.

Our Police department is located by the main entrance of the campus

Defusing and de-escalating challenging situations: During my time with the PD, I did a couple of mock exercises to understand the various ways that our officers work to diffuse situations. One exercise involved a mock traffic stop, and I was charged with de-escalating the situation to ensure no one was harmed. While challenging situations in most of our BAS units don't involve physical danger, the need to diffuse situations occurs daily. The ability to stay calm and think through the next logical step is a skill we need to emphasize throughout the division.

Working to de-escalate a challenging traffic stop

When we feel the need to explain...listen: Our work in BAS often involves dealing with colleagues and clients when they are upset or at low points. One such example is when people get parking tickets. During my time with the Police Department, I worked the main service window to learn about the various ways we engage with community members. During the time I was there, a student came to the window very upset about a parking ticket they received. Those working the desk listened patiently and talked through the situation with the student. By the time she left, the student was calm and grateful for the kindness she had encountered. It is vital that we listen when our colleagues and clients are stressed about various BAS operations. As a co-worker at my last campus used to say, "when we feel the need to explain.....listen". Listening can be our best tool.

The chain of custody:  Part of my day with the Police involved working in the evidence room. One of the most critical values governing evidence work is maintaining the "chain of custody". Evidence is critical as our officers work investigations. If the chain of custody is broken, it can jeopardize the work of others who need that evidence later in a process. The concept of chain of evidence applies to our work across BAS. Our work is intricately intertwined with the work of others. If any single person in the chain of a process or procedure does not accurately perform their task, then it can jeopardize the work of others who have roles later in that process. We are part of a larger chain.

Maintaining the chain of custody when handling evidence is crucial

Protocols that serve a purpose:  There are countless protocols in police work and straying from them can result in serious harm to others. These protocols are value-added in that they enhance the safety and effectiveness of police work. Across BAS, it is vital that we continually review our protocols. Each step should be value-added. If it does not serve a purpose, then it should be eliminated. In addition, each step should be documented to ensure our colleagues know what our protocols are. Finally, each step needs to be reinforced through training to ensure our protocols are applied consistently.

During my day with the police department, I learned about several protocols

I am so grateful to my team mates in the Police Department who worked with me during the In My Shoes day. These colleagues work every day to ensure our campus is safe, and it is an honor to work with them.

A slug I am,
Sarah

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