The Campus Safety Department has introduced dispatch controllers to its personnel on a trial basis as part of an ongoing effort to make Campus Safety more efficient and allow officers to focus more on patrolling duties.
G4S Secure Solutions, a security contracting agency, currently supplies the dispatchers, who answer and field all calls to the department. The officers either address the call, if possible, or forward it to Occidental’s officers on patrol.
“We have found that this is the most efficient way to do this,” Associate Dean of Students Tim Chang said.
Chang, who oversees the department, collaborated with Campus Safety officials to initiate and observe the trial.
According to Chang, officers previously answered all calls to Campus Safety, potentially interfering with their patrol. Additionally, poor service in the Academic Commons and basements of buildings on campus caused problems with missed calls from those areas.
Chang said that the change will improve the workings of Campus Safety in two ways. First, additional personnel will improve communication between the officers, students, faculty and other departments. Second, it will allow the officers on patrol to do their work on campus without interruption from calls that can be handled by the dispatchers.
“It allows officers to be more proactive in the field, where they need to be for our students, visitors, faculty and guests,” Director of Campus Safety Sean Kennedy said.
The temporary dispatchers were initially only contracted to work from March 17 to March 28, during which time Campus Safety monitored the number and time of the calls coming into the department. According to Chang, the information is used to determine when a permanent dispatcher may be needed most. In light of the its success, the trial has been extended to May 20 at the suggestion of the department.
According to Chang, the additions to Campus Safety will relieve strain from an already understaffed department. Currently, Campus Safety employs 12 officers, down from 18 a year and a half ago. A search committee headed by Assistant Dean for Community Engagement Ella Turenne and including Kennedy and others is looking to replace those employees.
“I want to make sure we pick the best person possible,” Kennedy said. “It takes time to get the right candidate — for the students, for the faculty.”
Additional staff from G4S Secure Solutions and other security firms have been employed by the college in the past to assist at large events, such as the Los Angeles County Science Olympiad hosted on campus on Feb. 22. They will also be present for Programming Board’s Springfest concert on April 12.