Southwestern College’s police department began 2016 on a hiring spree. A full-time officer, a part-time officer and four community service officers are going through orientation, said Campus Police Sergeant Jorge Sanchez.
One of the officers is a woman. Emalee Pallis is the first female officer at SWC in more than a decade.
Sanchez said SWC had female officer candidates in the past but they “just didn’t work out, background wise.”
Another woman joining the ranks is Campus Safety Officer Jessell Chaloux,who said she had been waiting for an opportunity to apply after working as a public safety assistant.
“As of now I’m the only female CSO,” she said. “I’m not sure if they’ll open up in the future (to more women).”
Chaloux said she does not remember the last time a female had a CSO position.
“How do I feel about that? I feel very proud because out of all the applicants that were suited for the position I was chosen, a female.”
SWC student Robert Garcia, 20, said he is happy the campus was getting a female officer.
“I feel like a female officer would be more lenient and easy going when it comes to certain situations,” he said. “ I can tell some of the guys are not comfortable with handling situations involving females, like that smoking incident where like six officers arrested one girl. It was crazy. Maybe a female officer would have handled it better. Sometimes the guys seem to take their jobs a little too seriously and I feel like a female officer would be a lot cooler to have and it would be something different.”
With the addition in numbers to the police department, Sanchez said it would be easier for campus police to delegate duties more thoroughly.
“We’re looking at growing the department because of the needs of the five campuses,” he said. “We’re becoming more organized and they’ve added some additional responsibilities so we needed to expand our department.”
Sanchez said the new hires will take over certain high-risk duties from student workers.
“It’s just making sure that they’re removed from the picture as far as their safety is concerned,” he said. “If anybody tries to do, whatever, they’ll have to deal with law enforcement.”
A re-organization of the department will be implemented along with the new hires, said Sanchez.
“One thing we’ve never done before was to really get organized, but now we’ve created a structure within the department where everyone has got their responsibilities,” he said. “Now we’ve got enough sergeants to deal with the specifics, and not one guy trying to do it all.”
There is still a vacancy for a new sergeant, Sanchez said.
A hiring committee of six was selected from the Associated Student Organization, faculty and staff.
Panelists will ask questions during the interview as will Campus Police Chief Michael Cash.
“It’s a good process,” said Sanchez. “ It’s not something where someone’s going to dictate, everyone’s involved and everyone’s got input.”
Linda Borrego, 28, said she would prefer the new sergeant be a female.
“We need more women in charge around here,” she said. “Maybe then something would get done and these men police would learn a thing or two about female safety.”