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Monday, April 15, 2024

UC Davis Police Department’s 2020 resolutions include greater focus on mental health

Police Chief Joseph Farrow discusses goals for the year

UC Davis Police Chief Joseph (Joe) Farrow and the police department have made a few serious resolutions for the new year — resolutions Farrow is confident the department will be able to achieve. 

Farrow, who has been in his position since 2017, said it’s been exciting to witness Davis’ changes.

“My first two years at Davis have been most enjoyable,” Farrow said. “I was in awe over everything. Davis is truly a wonderful place.”

For Farrow and the UCDPD, 2020 is already shaping up to be a busy year. The department is highlighting four specific goals to be achieved by the end of this year.

First, Farrow said the department is working to continue to hire a more diverse workforce, which also means hiring students who are familiar with campus life.

“I believe in hiring students,” Farrow said. “Bringing them in serves the department and the community well. Many of our new hires are recent UCD graduates.”

Immersive programs such as the Police Community Academy and the Cadet Academy introduce students to the real purposes of policing and how these change with the times, Farrow said. The Police Community Academy is a nine-week program for students and community members to learn more about the role of the UCDPD. 

The Cadet Academy is a scholarship program open to UC Davis students and graduates interested in law enforcement. The program gives graduates of the program the opportunity to work at the UCDPD and attend the Sacramento Police Academy. 

Farrow said that with heightened tensions as well as negative views about police officers in America, the UCDPD uses these programs to help students understand what policing really looks like.

The department’s second goal involves the proper handling of what Farrow calls a “mental health crisis” on college campuses. 

“We’re trying to train every officer in critical incident training,” Farrow said. “This program is geared toward deescalation when dealing with people experiencing a mental health crisis.”

In a 2018 article with the Davis Enterprise that reflected on Farrow’s first year as chief, Farrow defined a crisis as an individual “having their worst day, either because they’re under the influence, they’re mentally ill or they’re just having a bad day. How do you control someone who’s not rational at the time?”

Farrow added that the department plans to have every officer properly trained to handle a potential crisis situation by this June. 

Additionally, the police department hopes to complete the four-year law enforcement accreditation process.

“Accreditation is all about adhering to the highest standards in the country,” Farrow said. “When accomplished, it means we are trained and are guided by the most thought out and collaborative policies in the country.”

The International Commission on Law Enforcement Accreditation is based on former President Barack Obama’s 21st Century task force on policing, Farrow explained. These police standards are the most modern in the country.

“The Police Department wasn’t accredited three years ago,” Farrow said. “We’re planning to finish the training in three years instead of four.” 

Farrow’s final goal is one partial to all UC campuses. The UC president developed a task force to look into policing and training of police on all UC campuses. The 2019 Report of the Presidential Task Force on Universitywide Policing revealed 28 recommendations for UC police departments “to strengthen the ties between the community and UCPD and to continually improve UCPD operations.” Chief Farrow said that out of the 28, they have only a few more to complete. 

“We are trying to become compliant by mid-summer,” Farrow said. “A good year-and-a-half before the due date.”

The task force’s recommendations include better officer training, transparency in police operations, diverse workforce planning and police accountability boards. 

Farrow said, overall, 2019 was a good year. Although the accumulation of robberies of UC Davis students greatly concerns Farrow, he said the campus had a relatively safe year and that incidents like these ones should not define campus security in general. The chief is grateful for another year to serve the community around him, and said he looks forward to 2020 being another year of growth for the police department. 

“On a day-to-day basis, I am  surrounded by extraordinarily smart people who are supportive, inquisitive or critical of what we do,” Farrow said. “My focus for our department remains on continual self assessment and improvement while collaborating with our campus community.”

Written by: Alana Wikkeling — features@theaggie.org 


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