CSUN Police Strengthen Positive Relationship with Campus Community

  • Officer Virgil Messmore and his K9 partner, Daisy.

    Officer Virgil Messmore and his K9 partner, Daisy. Photo by Luis Garcia.

To enhance the California State University, Northridge Department of Police Services’ strong relationship with the community, officers began this week using body-worn cameras when in the field.

CSUN’s police department is one of the first in the CSU system to deploy the cameras. In addition to the transparency and accountability provided by the cameras’ recordings, numerous studies have shown they encourage respectful behavior by both officers and members of the public, said CSUN Chief of Police Anne Glavin. Members of the community will see the cameras on the upper center of the officer’s chest and a “red” light indicating the camera is active.

“We are proud of the positive relationship we have with the CSUN community and the level of trust that our community has in its police department,” Glavin said. “It is important that we always seek ways to improve the high-quality service expected of our department. This technology is being adopted by police departments across the country, and it’s our turn.”

Using body-worn cameras is just the latest example of CSUN police efforts to strengthen its relationship with and service to the campus community.

Glavin was recently recognized by the Anti-Defamation League for the department’s training requirements, which are designed to ensure cultural sensitivity and protection against hate crimes on campus.

The department also conducted additional training with the Anti-Defamation League on ways to be more sensitive and inclusive. The training and other department policies help nurture an environment to help victims of hate crimes feel comfortable in reporting them to police.

“Our officers are very good at understanding the importance of sensitivity in our diverse community,” Glavin said. “We work hard to understand the best ways to serve our campus.”

The police department has also worked to educate the community on safety tips for emergency situations. In 2016, the CSUN police department collaborated with the Department of Cinema and Television Arts to create a video to train students, faculty and staff how to react in an active shooter demonstration. The video, which has been shown in classrooms and in orientations, can be viewed at www.csun.edu/police/activeshooter.

Public safety will be further increased when the department’s K9 unit is back to full strength. Last year’s recruit, Daisy, 2, a yellow English and American Labrador who is trained in explosives detection, will soon be joined by Tank, a 17-month-old black Labrador.

Tank is approximately halfway through seven-week training for a specialized type of explosives detection called Vapor Wake. Unlike the traditional explosives detection method which focuses on static objects, Tank will be able to sniff out persons with suspicious substances moving throughout a large crowd.

Daisy, who works with officer Virgil Messmore, and Tank, who will work with officer Nicholas Canady, will be used for protective sweeps at events and other detection activities.

The police department will continue to take steps to strengthen its positive relationship with the CSUN community, Glavin said.

“The real important thing that I always tell my officers is, when people get to know you well and you have a good relationship, there’s a greater willingness to help when help is needed by the police,” she said. “We’re all on the same team. We can’t protect the community by ourselves. It certainly is a team effort.”