More police officers work in California than any other state in the union, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Local government is not the only key industry with an elevated level of active employment. Trained officers also hold indispensable posts at colleges, universities and professional schools, where expert communication skills are considered important qualities to uphold.
“Officers must be able to communicate effectively with a variety of people from different walks of life, cultures and experiences,” said Rick Wall, director of public safety and chief of police at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). “We also must recognize that the vast majority of the community we serve are college students, who are, in many cases, first experiencing life away from the family nest and are here to learn.”
Has a campus officer’s responsibilities remodeled in recent years?
“The role of a campus police officer has changed, as our society has changed, and issues of people in mental health crises are better recognized. Suicide on college campuses has been a significant issue for many years, but now our officers are better trained to deal with a person in a mental health crisis.”
What exemplifies CSULA’s police force?
“We are a full-service police department that operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week. As such, our officers must meet the requirements of any police officer in the state. Our agency is comprised of dedicated officers who work to provide a safe learning environment for students, faculty and staff.”
How does a striving officer plan for a career in this field?
“The best way to prepare for police work is to spend time volunteering within their community. There are lots of groups, including veterans, homeless, crisis lines and senior centers, where they can work with people who need help.”
What is your message to endeavoring officers?
“I encourage aspiring officers to pursue their education in something other than criminal justice; that is what they will learn in the academy and on the job. Officers who have well-rounded experiences and education generally succeed in law enforcement, as they have the tools to reach success.”
Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.