University Police should proactively patrol downtown

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Illustration by Liz Coffee

Illustration by Liz Coffee

Chico Police Department is grossly understaffed and is struggling to maintain order downtown. In response, it has requested that University Police expand their patrols to the downtown area.

Scared citizens have reported feeling uncomfortable walking the streets at night. Concerned shop owners have complained about groups of transients sleeping at their shopfronts, peeing on their walls. Reports of crime are on the rise, and local law enforcement is stretched thin.

On top of this, University Police must now start the search for a new chief of police.

Something is rotten in the region of downtown Chico, and it’s going to take more than Chico’s understaffed city cops to cut out the corruption.

University Police needs to partner with Chico Police Department in patrolling a one mile radius around campus for the sake of concerned and endangered students.

Chief of police Robyn Hearne has already expressed her apprehension in partnering campus cops with Chico Police Department. In her opinion, it’s important to remember that University Police has a specific purpose: keep an eye on the campus.

This is an oversimplified vision of University Police’s purpose.

Patrolling the campus is simply a means to an end, the end being protecting Chico State students.

While it makes sense for campus cops to convene on campus during the day when classes are in session, secluding themselves to university property at night defeats their own purpose.

Only 2,200 students live in on-campus housing. This means that, by sequestering its patrols to campus property, University Police is ignoring the vast majority of students who live off-campus.

Keeping in mind that most robberies, muggings, assaults and rapes happen off-campus and in people’s homes, it only makes sense that campus cops should extend their reach into the community.

Those who wish to keep University Police confined to the campus will likely raise priority concerns. They will wonder who is looking after students while the cops respond to phone calls about downtown fights, raging parties and hostile transient folk.

Who gets in downtown fights? Who hosts raging parties? Who gets accosted by hostile transient folk? Students do.

Hearne also stated that campus cops already partner with Chico Police Department, providing backup when asked. Providing backup isn’t the same as proactive patrols.

As if the expressed concerns of students, citizens and businesses weren’t enough, Chico Police Department has openly stated that it is understaffed, overwhelmed and in need of reinforcements.

It shouldn’t have to wait around for a more compliant campus chief of police to get the backup it needs.

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