Dr. Pan Introduces Bill to Give College Police Powerful Tools to Solve Crimes & Strengthen Trust

March 25, 2015

Sacramento – Dr. Richard Pan, a State Senator representing Sacramento, introduced Senate Bill 424 which would give college and university police departments the authority to use “pretext phone calls” or recording devices like body-worn cameras during their investigations into serious crimes such as sexual assault, robbery, burglary, arson, theft and murder. 

“Our college police provide front-line protection for 3 million students and employees in California,” said Dr. Richard Pan. “College police need the same investigative and policing tools that virtually all other police entities in the state have the authority to use.”

“The sad reality is that our campuses face the same law enforcement challenges as are faced in all of our communities,” stated Randy Burba, President of the California College and University Police Chiefs Association, the sponsor of SB 424. “Our police officers have had the same training and are held to the same standards as municipal police officers and deputy sheriffs, and SB 424 will give us the tools to do our job of protecting the three million students and employees on the campuses we are sworn to protect.”

SB 424 would authorize the use of body-worn cameras which would document encounters between campus police and the public in an effort to improve evidence collection, strengthen officer performance and accountability. Many police agencies across the state are equipping police with body cameras to record officers’ interactions with the public. While the footage from body-worn cameras won’t tell the entire story, it will provide further evidence of an encounter.

The bill will also authorize the use of a “pretext phone call” which is used in a variety of investigations and especially effective in sexual assault investigations, including drug-facilitated rapes.  A pretext phone call is simply a tape-recorded phone conversation between the victim and the suspect to gather evidence. 

Some crimes such sexual assault disproportionally on campus.  Nearly 20% of undergraduate women report attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college while many more go unreported.  Providing police with effective tools of justice will hopefully make other victims more comfortable coming forward and reporting an assault.

College and university police departments meet the same POST training and certification requirements of every municipal police and county sheriff agency. 

Senate Bill 424 will be heard first in the Senate Public Safety Committee.

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