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Police chiefs to engage community in decision making

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The Chiefs of Police for the San Marcos Police Department and the University Police Department will establish advisory boards to increase transparency and communication within the communities.

The board for the university will consist of 12 individuals from outside of the department and will have input from both the university and local communities according to Patrick Cochran, assistant director of UPD.

“The vision is that we have 12 members, three would be from the San Marcos Community, because obviously what happens at the university impacts San Marcos just like what happens in San Marcos impacts us,” Cochran said. “The rest would be made up of students or staff.”

The panel for SMPD will be smaller, hosting nine individuals. Chief of Police Chase Stapp said the board will represent a diverse range of San Marcos residents.

“My panel will be composed of nine members: four from outside my department, four from inside my department and one who’s a university faculty member,” Stapp said. “I want them to be diverse in terms of their racial background and also the geography of where they live in the city.”

While police will be on the city chief’s board, Cochran said police were intentionally absent on the university’s board.

“We already have quite a bit of dialogue with our local counterparts here,” Cochran said. “We have several meetings per month. Basically, we’re looking for a cross-section of San Marcos residents that may or may not be associated with the university.”

Both Cochran and Stapp said engaging with the community was important in making departmental decisions.

“Community outreach is critical these days when it comes to building strong relationships with the community,” Stapp said.

The two chiefs agreed that a more diverse pool of applicants will add to the success of the program, “any time you can get a more diverse feedback… you get a better product,” Cochran said.

The community positions for both boards are open by application for the general public. Applicants for the university board will be considered equally and must pass a general background check. The city board will show a preference for applicants who have completed the Police Department’s Citizen Police Academy course.

“One of the prerequisites that we’ve recommended is that they have attended our Citizens Police Academy, which is a 12-week program citizens can go to to turn learn more about the department. We’ve been doing that program for over 20 years, so we’ve got literally hundreds of people who are San Marcos residents,” Stapp said. “We’ll draw our first members from that body of people.”

 

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