by Gina Brown
“We are extra eyes,” is the way Vince Caballero, a senior, describes his duties as a security officer at the University of La Verne. “We protect the staff, faculty and students, and ULV property.”
Not just anyone can become a security officer. Robert Rodriguez, chief of security and transportation, explained, “We get 15 to 20 applicants and take about four interviews to try to evaluate them on paper. If a person has been an ex-policeman, security officer, or has had classes in security laws and procedures, experience is what counts. Then we go to personnel and they see if we are doing things right.”
According to Rodriguez, due to privacy laws, background checks are not something which the University pursues before hiring someone in the Security Department.
“We look at their references and past employers,” he said. ULV students do have an advantage in the hiring process. “Graduates might get preference if they have worked in security as students. They are familiar with students and procedures, etc,” Rodriguez added.
The security staff consists of Rodriguez and four full-time and two part-time officers; it is often short-handed. “I think they need more security officers,” said Vikki Aleman, junior.
One of the services officers provide is to ensure the safety of students traveling around campus. During the evening, they act as escorts to make sure students get to their destination safely. This is one aspect of their job that many students may not realize and therefore do not take advantage of.
“Students don’t utilize it,” said Caballero.”If I see students walking, especially women, I will ask if they need a ride. Most of the time they say yes. If they say no, I will watch or follow them to make sure that they get to their car or dorm safely.”
Freshman Monickie Addison appreciates the escort service. “I never had any problems getting through (to security). They’re always there when I needed them,” she said.
But senior Teresa Edwards found that security is not always available. “Sometimes I would call them at night when I was in the Student Center for an escort, and they would never answer the phone,” she said. “I think security sucks, they have never been there when I’ve needed them the most.”
Poor lighting conditions seem to be a concern of many on campus, but Rodriguez said it is not a problem his department can solve, that students should “call maintenance to take care of the lighting.”
“I think we could have better lighting in the SEL parking lot and better lighting to the rear of the school, near the Hanawalt Center,” said Caballero.
“Lighting is a concern,” said Brian Worley, superintendent of buildings and grounds. “We are trying to assess what the darkest areas are and trying to get it out of that realm. Immediate concerns are lighting on Second Street and the AAIC Building.”
Before the lighting problem can be solved by the University, students who feel uneasy when walking around campus in the evening are advised to call security to escort them to their destination.
Another important aspect of security officers’ duty is to check all the buildings on campus periodically, especially in the evening. ‘There are 32 buildings, about 15 to 20 doors in certain areas. It takes one officer about two and a half hours to lock up by himself,” said Rodriguez.
“We physically check every room on this campus to make sure there isn’t any unsecured equipment and try to get everyone out of the building (at the end of the day). This gives us peace of mind because we know that we’ve locked the door and it’s (building) safe,” said Caballero.
The University does not seem to have problems with the surrounding community in terms of security, even though there are some local gangs active in the area. “I never had a problem with the neighborhood gang,” said Caballero.
“Usually we don’t have any problems with the neighborhood, unless you’re looking to cause some trouble. We haven’t been bothered by violent crimes involving gangs,” said Rodriguez. Although he is sure “they (gang members) stole the aluminum benches.”
Theft has been a major problem on campus for the past year, from equipment to bikes to cars. “Personally, I think stolen cars has been a problem,” said Rodriguez. “It is because we have a lot of cars in the area, it’s like a cherry patch. The people who had cars stolen didn’t neglect to lock their door, so it leads me to believe that these people are looking for special cars. These people are not just joy-riding.” Caballero said that during the day, security is on the move, looking for things out of the ordinary. About “two years ago, there was a panhandler on campus,” he said.
When students see a security officer walking around campus, they feel safer. “I’ve gotten comments like, ‘it’s good to see you.’ They appreciate security,” said Caballero.