Fall quarter of 2009 brought about many changes to UCSB’s campus, one of which was the school’s acquisition of a new police chief, Dustin Olson. Although brief, his time thus far with the campus and surrounding community seems to be very successful.
Chief Olson first entered UCSB’s police force optimistic, eager, and ready to change the campus for the better. His main focus was reducing bike theft; with simple research and observation, it was clear to him bicycle burglary was one of the biggest problems on campus. Since November, a strong impact with regard to bike theft has been made. The police department has made four arrests, three of which have been prosecuted. Olson attributes this to the “strong partnerships we have made, namely to the District Attorney.”
In addition to the arrests, UCPD has partnered with AS BIKES. One way Olson and his team had come up with to prevent bike theft was to plant ‘bait bikes’ on campus; the vehicles would be fitted with GPS technology so, were they to be stolen, the police would be able to locate and prosecute the culprits. The on-campus bike shop has agreed to buy the technology to help the police find and follow thieves.
“Bike theft is not condoned. It’s not legal; it is an ongoing problem,” said Chief Olson. These thefts, as well as property thefts, have proven to be quite problematic; however, the staff remains optimistic that they can make a change.
In addition to fighting bike theft, Olson has also created a problem solving unit. They track the issues and trends of the community to find problems and seek out solutions. The unit is new, and is hoping to garner momentum.
Another issue campus police must deal with is graffiti. “These are serious crimes. They send the wrong message to the community. We deal with graffiti and vandalism swiftly and appropriately,” Olson reassured. In response to recent graffiti on campus, the police force acted by cleaning said works. The crimes are still being investigated, and at the present no arrests have been made.
Olson has also succeeded in putting on a Lighting Walk for the campus. This had been one of his initial goals, as outlined in an interview taken place at the beginning of the year. “The lighting walk was a big success for us. There was a good turnout, and Associated Students partnered with us, bringing up pizza. We split up into three separate routes,” Olson stated. Participants walked the campus, looking out for areas where overgrowth was preventing proper lighting, as well as identifying places that potentially needed fixing. The walk resulted in the realization that more emergency call boxes (highlighted by the bright blue lightbulbs above them) could be utilized on campus.
Pertaining to events like Floatopia, Chief Olson stated, “For events like that, where there is no set date, no event organizer, things become much more difficult.” Things, in such cases, become speculative, and the general public is unaware of the rules. For obvious reasons, that makes policing and regulating events much more difficult. The police support student groups, but without one direct group leader, things become unmanageable and therefore unsafe.
Campus Police works, regulates, and polices anything both on campus and that which transcends into Isla Vista. They work closely with Isla Vista Foot Patrol and enjoy working and supporting student events, as it is their goal to make things fun, safe, and conducive to students.