Vice President of Administrative Services John Parker, left, speaks with Acting Lieutenant Jason Stone, right, after the Safety Forum on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023. Photo by Bailey Kohnen/City Times Media.
Vice President of Administrative Services John Parker, left, speaks with Acting Lieutenant Jason Stone, right, after the Safety Forum on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023. Photo by Bailey Kohnen/City Times Media.
Bailey Kohnen

San Diego Community College District Police Department explained

Who are the officers patrolling campus?

If you have spent any time at San Diego City College, you have no doubt noticed the police officers patrolling campus.

They are members of the San Diego Community College Police Department, which is responsible for enforcing the law on the district’s three campuses, continuing education center, adult learning centers and district offices.

“Being an urban and an open campus downtown leaves us vulnerable to pretty much anyone in the vicinity,” Vice President of Administrative Services John Parker said.

John Parker, Vice President of Administrative Services at City College and a member of the Police Advisory Committee, said having a dedicated district police department means quicker response times to incidents on campus, which is particularly important at City College.

SDCCDPD has 40 sworn officers divided around the district. They are augmented by College Service Officers (CSOs) and Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol (RSVP) who assist with patrolling campus, parking enforcement, vehicle assistance and traffic direction.

Chief Joseph Ramos is in command of the department with two lieutenants below him: Ken Nelson, stationed at Mesa College, is in charge of everything north of Interstate 8, while Jeffrey Hughes, stationed at City College, handles everything south.

Under the two lieutenants, there are eight sergeants divided between the two zones, who pick up different shifts throughout the week.

Officers go through extensive background checks and psychological evaluations before being admitted to the department, according to Chief Ramos.

“You give somebody a gun and you give somebody the authority to use force and deprive someone else of their freedom,” Ramos said. “You want to make sure that you are picking the right person.”

SDCCDPD is certified by Police Officers Standards and Training (POST), which regulates police agencies in the state of California. All officers have attended San Diego Regional Police Academy at Miramar College, meaning they have the same authority as any other officer in the state.

Officers also get district-specific training, and have the option to attend a number of other programs on responding to sexual assault, domestic violence, driving under the influence and narcotics. 

SDCCDPD runs numerous programs specific to the district. College Security Officers are available to escort students and faculty on campus if they feel unsafe. CSOs are also available to provide jumpstarts or lockout assistants. 

The police department also provides training for the Campus Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT) and RAD self-defense training for students and faculty. 

A flyer for RAD training hung in a City College Elevator. Photo by Bailey Kohnen/City Times Media.

Some SDCCDPD officers have attended the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) training program, provided by the country, allowing officers to ride with a mental health clinician who can respond to mental health emergencies.

The department currently does not have the staff to provide this service, according to Ramos, but it is working with Disability Support Programs and Services to bring dedicated mental health clinicians to the district.

The Police Advisory Committee (PAC) was created in 2021 by the District Policing Task Force in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.

The goal of the committee was to give community members input on policing issues. It is also tasked with reviewing policing policies and making recommendations to the chancellor on how it could be improved.

Professor Darius Spearman, who sits on the committee declined to be interviewed for this piece. Miski Abdi, City College’s student representative on the committee, did not respond to a request for comment.

The PAC meets monthly via Zoom. The next meeting will take place on March 8.

Students interested in getting involved in the PAC should reach out to VP John Parker through Dena Prater at [email protected].

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