Increase in campus crime statewide
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Statewide University Police Association, or SUPA, is reporting dangerously low staffing, and an increase in campus crime at California State Universities, including Fresno State. SUPA President Jeff Solomon tells Action News, California campuses are facing a crisis, and if negotiations don't go their way, officers will leave the force.
Fresno State sophomore Josh Myers said, "We can use as many officers as we can get." When he's not in class, he's working as a public safety assistant for the library. He tells Action News, he works closely with the Fresno State Police Officers, and that "their presence is what really matters the most." Myers says he knows many of the officers on a first name basis. "They really build personal relationships which I think goes above and beyond and that makes people feel more safe when you know personally who it is that's helping you out."
The Statewide University Police Association says, campus police officers make a difference with those types of relationships. Association President Jeff Solomon tells Action News, "It takes a special kind of person to be a police officer for the university police dept. you have to be able to deal with low level stuff on campus and then you have to turn around and deal with a parolee."
Solomon says their collective bargaining with the California State University system is at a standstill and it's creating a perfect storm for danger. "What we're projecting is the same thing that happened back in 2006 -prior to 2006 before our last raise we had people leaving in mass exodus."
He says the wages aren't competitive, meaning there's no incentive for officers to stay on the force. Solomon claims many are looking for work elsewhere, which is a concern for Fresno State. The University was named among the most dangerous schools in the country last year.
Mike Uhlenkamp, a spokesperson from the Chancellor's Office, says it's early in the negotiation process. He says staffing decisions are made at the campus level, and that student safety is extremely important.
As for Josh Myers, he says he's never felt unsafe. "I don't think too much happens on campus, a lot is near the campus and that's because they know campus police is here."
The Chancellor's Office Spokesman also says, the University system is not in a position to increase salaries for anyone for this budget year. However, they're discussing increases for next year.
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