When protesters hit the streets over the murder of George Floyd, Cal State Long Beach Police Chief Fernando Solorzano knew he had work to do.
He and his University Police Department staff went to work implementing the CSU’s approach to re-imagining policing on campuses. Based on the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, established by former President Barack Obama, the system-wide initiative seeks to establish best practices and recommendations on how to reduce crime while building public trust.
To get started, Solorzano put together the CSULB Community Engagement Group, a diverse advisory board that will look at issues regarding the safety and wellbeing of students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus. The 12 members from across campus and the surrounding Long Beach community met for the first time last March and are scheduled to meet again in the fall.
“Our goal is to engage the community, to engage and reform and receive some feedback about some of our weaknesses and some of our strengths, which would allow us to serve our communities better,” Solorzano said. “We are bringing the community to the table, something that hasn’t been done before at this level.”
The police chief said the first task is to build trust between the UPD and students. The UPD previously has held “Coffee With a Cop" and "Lunch with a Cop” on campus, supported Breast Cancer Month by wearing pink patches and worked with Special Olympics.
But when the pandemic hit, much of the UPD’s community work was halted. The aftermath of Floyd’s killing renewed CSULB’s efforts to be more community focused.
“The Floyd protests brought back our focus and efforts of reaching out in a more in-depth way,” Solorzano said. “The Community Engagement Group will be effective at that, by involving our community.”
Specifically, the Community Engagement Group will:
- Identify current public safety issues that impact CSULB students
- Act as a liaison between the campus community and UPD
- Receive regular updates and summary of activities of the UPD
- Examine and provide recommendations concerning matters of public safety, campus policy or suggested community resources to positively impact community experience
- Solicit consideration for providing a caring culture in safety-related services or activities
“We want to know what we can do well and what we can do better,” Solorzano said. “Now more than ever, we are being more open … being a lot more visible.”
Capt. John Brockie of CSULB’s police department said, “Our society is demanding more and our profession is changing. In my 20 years or more in policing, this seems necessary.”