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Public Safety rolls out new ideas

Nikki DaSilva

Public Safety is really stepping it up this year, with a bike patrol, a community policing plan, improved van service, better disaster preparedness and more.

The bike patrol is currently still in the planning stages, and Sergeant Greg Risby has been doing test patrols.

Sergeant Risby is an “avid biker,” according to Director of Public Safety Michael Lopez, and has 20 years of experience with the Oakland Police Department, much of which he spent with the Oakland bike patrol.

Risby called the bike patrol “very, very effective.”

“You can get into areas you can’t even get into on foot,” said Risby, naming areas such as around Lisser Hall and behind the creek. Criminals don’t expect police officers to be on bicycles, he said. He added that bike patrols are also good for the officers’ health, keeping them in shape and giving them a good workout.

“The program was here two, three years ago,” said Lopez. “We want it back.” The original bike patrol program was with the Oakland Police Department, who used to do bike patrols on campus, but fell through due to lack of funding.

“It’s not really ‘community policing,'” said Risby, “but it gets you more in contact with the people.” When he was with the OPD bike patrol, he said, he was often stopped by people who didn’t know there was a bike patrol and wanted to talk about bicycles.

Community policing, according to Risby, is less of a project requiring equipment and training and more of a concept. In Mills’ version of community policing, students, faculty and Public Safety will work together to enforce the rules instead of simply saying, “call the police.” The idea is to be “proactive, not reactive,” said Risby.

“It makes it easier on everybody,” said Risby.

“If someone does something wrong and that goes unchecked, then someone else will do something else,” said Sergeant Alex Dratva, another former police officer.

Risby used parking as an example. If a student tells a guest that the guest is allowed to park illegally “because Public Safety doesn’t enforce that,” then people will follow that example and the parking system will break down.

The bike patrol and community policing are not the only things that Risby has a hand in. He is also working on the Mills van schedule, which will be altered “within the week,” according to Lopez.

“Transport to the Laurel District will be on request,” said Lopez. The current system, with scheduled stops at the Albertson’s in the Laurel District, is not working due to traffic, which causes the van to slow or speed. Students should request the stop with the driver when getting on the shuttle and call Public Safety for a pickup when needed, he said.

Lopez also said that due to requests, there will also be changes to make the van schedule better coincide with BART schedules.

Mills students receive priority to ride the van, said Lopez, particularly students with appointments at the Tang Center. Non-Mills students who wish to ride the van should purchase tickets from the Cashier in Sage Hall.

There is much more that Public Safety is undertaking. Lopez said that they are also implementing Citizens of Oakland Responding to Emergencies (CORE). CORE will be first responders in case of emergencies. All the RA coordinators and RAs will be involved, he said, and the training will be done at Mills.

“There will also be fire drills in every building before the end of the semester,” said Lopez.