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Sierra College to extend contract with Rocklin Police

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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A safe campus is spurring Sierra College leaders to give Rocklin Police a longer contract, according to school officials. “At this point, the (Sierra Colleg) board of trustees agree we will enter into a long-term agreement with the city of Rocklin,” said Sierra College President Dr. Leo Chavez. Sierra College’s private police force was disbanded Nov. 1 after the police chief left for a state job. Chavez said since Rocklin officers took over law enforcement duty on campus, they’ve turned the school around. “It’s possible the campus had developed a reputation as somewhat of an easy mark (for criminals),” Chavez said. “We’re losing that rapidly and we’re going to end up with a much safer campus, as a result.” The former Sierra College Police Department reportedly wrote a handful of reports a month for serious incidents like accidents, theft and minor criminal activity, according to Rocklin Police officials. In the first month, Rocklin officers issued 29 reports and made two drug arrests. Just last month, Rocklin officers initiated a parking lot stake-out to catch a vehicle burglary suspect allegedly responsible for a series of thefts. Some students said they haven’t noticed the activity but admit that may be part of their success. “I haven’t really felt a difference,” said second-year student Koji Kamizaki. “To me, it is pretty safe here.” State law allows colleges and universities to have their own police forces. Sierra College has nearly 9,000 students and staff on campus at any given time, according to Chavez. “Before this experience, we had the impression there was a fundamental difference in the way a city police force operated and interacted with citizens and the way campus police would interact,” Chavez said. In the past, Chavez admits, the campus’ police force was limited in what it could accomplish. “When they caught somebody, rather than run them through the judicial system, they would have a little talk with them and let them go on their way,” Chavez said. According to the contract, Rocklin Police are paid $1,860 per day for the city’s personnel, equipment and administrative costs. Two officers are housed on campus with access to even more resources. Rocklin Police Chief Mark Siemens admits the college is getting a pretty good deal. “For those two officers on campus, Sierra College gets the whole police department,” Siemens said. “When we need traffic enforcement, we send our motorcycles over there. When they need our detectives for a major crime we take care of that.” At last Tuesday’s Rocklin City Council meeting, Chavez thanked city officials for the successful partnership. “Not only have we negotiated a very complex arrangement in a short period of time, that arrangement has been remarkably beneficial to the college,” Chavez said. “The officers are a wonderful addition to the campus.” The current 120-day contract extension with Rocklin Police Department ends in June. That’s when Chavez said the multi-year deal is expected to be signed.