Unbeknown to most UCSB students and Isla Vista residents, the UC Santa Barbara Police Department recently got a new Chief of Police.
Before one can meet the new police chief, however, they must first find the Department itself. Located at the intersection of Mesa and Ocean, and adjacent to Harder Stadium, UCPD shares its current location with the fire department. Though appearing small from the outside, the place is home to a very busy staff.
New Chief of Police Dustin Olson joined the UCSB community just after Halloween, and is already pumped up and ready to go. “I’ve been seeing some great things on this campus,” said Olson. “I’m excited to be here and happy for the opportunity.”
Although new to Santa Barbara, Olson has many years of law enforcement experience under his belt. Olson was previously Assistant Police Chief at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he served for eleven years. Prior to that, he was on active duty in the US Marine Corps for about ten years, during which time he traveled the world.
Now that he has settled down in Santa Barbara, Olson plans on “engaging in a community partnership with students, staff, and faculty.” His biggest goal is for the UCSB community to work together on campus to “address crime, quality of life, with an emphasis on awareness and safety.” Although still in observation mode, Olson is working hard to bring in personnel to find out what specifically needs to be changed and what needs to be kept intact.
A strong emphasis will be placed on community policies, as well as developing partnerships within the department, although he does want to work with other branches of law enforcement including the IV Foot Patrol, Santa Barbara County Sheriffs Office, and California Highway Patrol.
Olson stressed the fact that UCSB is a very unique campus, because unlike other campuses, it is nestled in a more isolated area as opposed to an urban one. Its environment is quite different from most campuses, and its increased safety is duly noted.
Olson notes one thing in particular that has already caught his attention – the reft of bike thefts on-campus and in IV. To fix this ever-growing problem, he will utilize COMPSTAT, a model developed by former LAPD commissioner William Bratton, who was also commissioner of the NYPD in the 1990’s and is credited with the decrease of crime in New York City during that period. COMPSTAT is a model for aggressive law enforcement agencies, assisting them in researching the times and locations of thefts in an effort to understand when and where they will occur and how resources can be properly allocated to prevent them. In other words, the department will be checking times, types of bikes stolen, and previous records of suspects in order to reduce the prevalence of this type of crime.
Olson is also considering other methods of taking advantage of current technology to assist the UCPD. For example, there is a chance that “bait bikes” will be placed around campus with GPS trackers. If a bait bike is stolen, it’s location can be traced and the thief will be prosecuted. Olson’s ultimate goal is to discourage thieves, and with the possible bait bikes as well as COMPSTAT, he hopes to slow down and eventually stop bike thefts altogether.
Olson also wants to put into effect an annual Lighting Walk. With this, people would walk around the campus in the evening to see how efficient and practical things are; Olson noted that even when proper lighting is available, sometimes physical and environmental aspects hinder the feeling of safety. “Even if a place is safe, if it doesn’t feel safe, you won’t believe it.” He emphasized how important a comfortable and safe atmosphere is for students.
Another ambitious goal Olson has is to cut down on interpersonal violence. He stated that nationally one in five college girls suffers sexual violence. In order to ensure these numbers are much lower at UCSB, he wants to set up a rape aggression defense training class. Although the program is still in the works, its goal would be to provide defense training for both men and women. He hopes both the IV Foot Patrol and UCSB students will get involved with the program.
As far as execution goes for all of Olson’s plans, the fall quarter will still be used for research. During the winter months, Olson and his crew will be developing new strategies, in the hopes that Spring Quarter will be the execution phase. More information is to come as changes are made and policies are modified.