Rita A Spaur is the founding Chief of Police at the University of California in Merced. As Chief, her leadership focuses on the delivery of quality law enforcement and emergency preparedness and management services to the University, its members and the surrounding community.
UCPD Merced is composed of the Administrative Division, Field Operations Division and the Support Services Division. All division managers report directly to the Chief of Police.
The Administrative Division in the Office of the Chief supports the administrative functions of the Police Department.
The Field Operations Division oversees the day-to-day operations of our patrol, investigations, Community Services Officer and events functions.
The Support Services Division provides support services to the Department, and manages the campus emergency management function. For detailed information about UC Merced PD and programs offered by our Department, please go to http://police.ucmerced.edu.
The mission of all employees of the University Of California Merced Police Department is to enhance the quality of life by providing a secure and safe environment in which the university community can reach and maintain its fundamental mission of research, teaching, and public service. We do this with a well-equipped, well-trained, professional police agency, in partnership with all of the community and in accordance with the highest professional standards of law enforcement and public service.
Our strategies are to establish community practices and culture, which will maintain low incidences of crime; establish department practices and culture that will sustain a model university police department reputation and sustain low levels of liability for university, campus, and department; identify and mitigate campus vulnerabilities; establish strong community involvement that empowers citizens; attain full staffing levels; and identify and evaluate funding sources.
The Administrative Division provides clerical, fiscal management and administrative support for the UC Merced Police Department. This includes staffing, long range planning, coordinating, supervising areas of the budget, contract and grant administration, expenditure control, space utilization, building and equipment security, purchasing, and organizing special events. The Division is also responsible for processing and maintaining administrative records related to the UCMPD Mentor Program, UCMPD Community Services Officer Program, department brochures and bulletin board announcements, all lost and found property, inventory management and the liaison for processing live scan for the UC Merced Human Resources.
With the vacancy of shared modular space, our police department transitioned into 3,185 square feet from a tight 1,400 square feet previously utilized.
In 2008, our department continued to grow from 17 to 18 allocated staff with the recruitment of an Evidence/Records Technician along with the hiring of a Public Safety Dispatcher from the vacancy left by that appointment. With the promotion of a Management Services Officer resulted in the recruitment and hiring of an Administrative Assistant. Mid year, a vacancy with a Public Safety Dispatcher resulted in a lengthy recruitment process for a replacement that continued until the end of 2008.
As with the growing population of students, there was a growing list of lost and found reports. During 2008, the following reports have been taken.
- 490 reports of found property were taken, 22% increase from 2007
- 249 reports of lost property were taken, 4.5% increase from 2007
- 27% of these reports were cleared as owners found the property or the property was turned in as found by someone else with owners matched with the property and thus released.
An on-line lost and found reporting system was created and linked to our firstname.lastname@example.org website.
Even though our department does not have the Live Scan equipment on premises, our department is the liaison for processing requests for live scan with the University of California, Merced Human Resources. For 2008, we have processed 218 requests for this service, a 50% increase from 2007.
Working under the umbrella of the Field Operations Division is Patrol, Investigations, Community Service Officer Program, Mentor Program, Crime Prevention and Education Programs. The Division has been proactive, progressive, and innovative in the way it has provided police services to the university community. In 2008, the Operations Division reached milestones and significant accomplishments that are critical to our department’s mission and values. Our department conducted its first Citizen’s Police Academy which was well attended by students, faculty, and staff.
Additionally, in conjunction with Student Housing, Health Services, and the Office of Student Life we created the “THINK-TWICE” program, which encourages students to think twice about their actions that affect their lives and the campus community in general.
Patrol remains the most visible division of our police department with officers patrolling the university community by foot, bicycle, electric car and patrol car. In 2008, we added an additional officer to our Bicycle Patrol Team. Also in 2008, two of our officers began participating with the Merced City Police Department Crime Scene Investigation Team (CSI). Our officers assigned to the CSI Team train monthly with the city police department to enhance their evidence collection skills that they will utilize both on campus and assisting the city with their investigations.
UC Merced Police Officers frequently interact with our student population. Many of our officers know a large number of students by name and many of the students know their police officers by name, thus promoting a safer and more secure living and learning environment. Our department’s officers continue to work closely with other allied agencies in joint investigations, task forces, and mutual aid assists. In an continued effort to address the safety and concerns around the issue of DUIs, UCMPD partners with ten other Merced County law enforcement agencies with funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety via the “AVOID the 11” grant. In 2008, MADD awarded their “Hero Award” to our police sergeant for his continuing efforts in the battle against DUI related fatalities. In recognizing the need to promote the safety benefits of seatbelt usage to the university community, our police department participated in the 2008 nationwide “Click-It or Ticket” Seatbelt Campaign with funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety.
Notable investigations in 2008 included two embezzlement cases. First a staff member entered a plea of no contest subsequent to a felony embezzlement investigation. The staff member embezzled approximately thirty-thousand dollars from UC Merced via electronic transactions. Our assigned officer deciphered this complex activity, which ultimately proved the staff member embezzled the money. Additionally, a PhD candidate embezzled laboratory chemicals and equipment. The stolen lab chemicals and equipment were utilized in off-campus illegal methamphetamine production. Our officers in collaboration with a local narcotics task force conducted a drug manufacturing investigation. Subsequently, the student pleaded guilty to conspiracy to attempt methamphetamine production and embezzlement. The student was sentenced to five years in state prison and ordered to pay restitution.
Our department actively contributes as to how our new campus is designed and developed. Using the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) method, our department has guided the growth of our new campus community to a safer environmental design.
Our police sergeant and rangemaster/armorer trained faculty and staff on responding to an active-shooter incident. Additionally, the student Community Service Officer Program (CSO) is an essential component of the department’s crime prevention efforts. In 2008, our CSO Supervisor received the Award of Merit from the California College and University Police Chiefs Association. The program has helped improve the level of law enforcement services that the department provides to the university community through safety escorts, building checks and ongoing safety awareness through peer education and informational booths. In 2008, the CSO Program’s Bicycle and Electronic Registration Program, designed as a theft prevention program, reached a record number of registrations.
In 2008, two of our officers became Rape Aggression and Defense (RAD) certified. We procured equipment for RAD training and conducted our first RAD class which was well attended by the campus community.
Beyond this, Police Officers provided and coordinated programming for alcohol/DUI awareness, sexual assault and date rape prevention education, drug abuse prevention, personal safety awareness education and computer crime awareness.
In 2008, our Mentor Program was recognized with the Award of Distinction by the California College and University Police Chiefs Association. Additionally, Officers Botwright and Navarrette the program’s coordinators received the Award of Merit from the California College and University Police Chiefs Association for their leadership of this outstanding program.
In 2008, our Mentor Program became the first organization within UC Merced to participate in the Merced County “Adopt a Road” program. Therefore, Mentors ensure that the roads leading to UC Merced have litter control. In partnership the Merced City School District, the UC Merced Community, and the greater Merced Community, the police department’s Mentor Program continues to work on addressing the educational needs of local grade school students. Beyond this, the program works to improve quality of life issues and encourage social responsibility in the underserved communities in the City of Merced through targeted programs, events, and discussions. The program selects, recruits, trains, and guides members of the University’s Student Body to become mentors to grade school students.
The Support Services Division is comprised of the Public Safety Dispatch Center, Records Bureau, Evidence Unit, Campus Clery Compliance and UC Merced’s Emergency Notification Advisory Committee, and UC Merced Emergency Management. This Division grew by one additional staff member. In January, Paul Lyon promoted from Public Safety Dispatcher to Records / Evidence Technician. The Public Safety Dispatch Center currently monitors 25 cameras, answers 10 elevator and 43 Blue Light phones while responding to approximately 87,775 other incoming phone calls.
The Support Services Division collaborated with campus Communications and Information Technology to establish a multi-layered notification system designed to ensure complete alerting capabilities on-campus and off-campus. To date, Communications and/or Public Safety Dispatch personnel can send an emergency message to the entire campus e-mail registry, to campus digital display monitors, and through a campus upgraded Talk-A-Phone with Wide Area Emergency Broadcast (WEBS) which allows for 360º broadcasting. Additionally, we maintain a toll-free number to provide our community with updated information, and direction about an on-going situation. Pre-recorded messages about campus safety can be accessed 24 hours a day, year round.
In June, the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications (CLETS) Advisory Committee granted approval for our department to utilize a dedicated, secure and encrypted “direct connect” T1 line circuit to send and receive CLETS and NCIC information from our agency to Department of Justice (DOJ). This will allow the exchange of data without going through the local (County) message switching center.
In July, commercial and emergency power to the Telecommunications Building (supporting police dispatch) was shut down for upgrades. This planned power outage lasted approximately 12 hours and necessitated relocating our Public Safety Dispatcher(s) to an alternate site. During this incident, we continued to maintain clear communications with patrol, students, staff, faculty and campus guests.
In September, our department began the installation of a state of the art Computer Aided Dispatch / Records Management System (CAD/RMS). Training for the system occurred in January 2009. To date, we have maintained our records manually and we are thrilled with becoming automated.
Our campus temporary cellular tower was replaced in December with the permanent structure. This new equipment continues to pave the way for our police dispatch center to answer our campus cellular (Wireless E9-1-1) calls in lieu of them being routed to the California Highway Patrol.
UC Merced has successfully completed the 800MHz re-banding project with Motorola and Sprint-Nextel.
In 2008, our department administered a multi-agency, full Emergency Operations Center and Policy Group activation tabletop exercise. The exercise focused on assessing the university’s response to a chemical fire in our Science and Engineering building. This exercise tested our campus community’s ability to quickly, effectively, and appropriately set up a unified response based on the National Incident Management System (NIMS). This training exercise succeeded in identifying vulnerabilities and strengths in our overall response that helped the campus and community to develop effective responses, should an incident of this nature occur on campus. Moreover, approximately two months after the six-hour table-top exercise police, fire, Hazmat and several campus units responded to minor explosion in the Science and Engineering building.
Members of the UC Merced Police Department provide safety and security to our campus community through the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics. We each support our Mission, Vision and Values and we recognize and guard these doctrines as our foundation. We pride ourselves in remaining steadfast to recognizing and understanding the needs of our campus community. With this knowledge, we present inventive, yet proactive strategies for student, staff, faculty, and visitors/guests safety. We enjoyed our accomplishments of 2008 and eagerly await the challenges of 2009.