More than 100 FBI, police chiefs and natural disaster agents were at USF on January 9. They attended the annual two day law enforcement symposium hosted by USF’s International Institute of Criminal Justice Leadership. The seventeenth symposium resulted in the largest turnout the criminal justice institute has ever hosted.
Ticket proceeds from the event went to the Lieutenant Barbara Hammerman Memorial Scholarship which is awarded to outstanding law enforcement students.
USF alum San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr began the first event’s presentation with the police man’s prayer. Within ten minutes of his speech, the fire alarm rang forcing all those in attendance to stand outside the McLaren building until the ringing stopped.
Event manager Jennifer Hogan said the alarm was most likely set off by the construction work being done over winter break but Facilities Management didn’t confirm those assumptions.
When they symposium resumed, Suhr said up until the 1990s being a police officer was just seen as a job.
Today a high school diploma or a high school equivalency exam continues to be the only requirement for the position.
However, there have been some changes made over the years. Suhr said there used to exist a height requirement of 5’9. Cops had to live in San Francisco for at least a year before they could serve. During the mid-eighties police officers made $12 an hour and had a pension of about 75 percent.
Post 9/11, pensions rose to 90 percent making San Francisco’s police department one of the most highly paid police units in the nation.
In the middle of a recession, Suhr said law enforcement is a field that currently offers economic stability.
San Mateo Chief Susan Manheimer, who was awarded the Barbara Hammerman Memorial Scholarship during the symposium, said her reasons for becoming an officer went beyond the monetary compensation.
“When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a hero and save lives. I’m so humbled to that in this career and truly help people,” said Manheimer.
One of the handful of USF Law Enforcement students present at the event, Desiree Mingoa said her interest in law enforcement is linked to her desire to develop an investigative mind.
Student Preston Bergner said the symposium gave him great insight regarding a field he will be ready to enter after his graduation in December 2012. His interest in law enforcement is tied to developing critical thinking skills that train him to solve problems.
Nevertheless the increase in pay, the advancement in technology and the profession’s ability to offer job security may have something to do with how police work became a career option.
Along with the financial benefits however, have also come increases in responsibilities.
“People expect us to be peacemakers, paramedics and more than just a cop,” Suhr said.
Suhr added that cops are challenged with being professional yet not emotionless.
Director of the International Institute of Criminal Justice Leadership, Anthony Ribera said the theme for this year’s symposium, “Unique Leadership Challenges: Major Events, Disasters and Terrorism” was chosen because he felt law enforcement officials currently face the challenge of placating large protest movements in an efficient and ethical matter.
“When talking about crisis events, we can’t lose sight of responding ethically. It might be frustrating but officers still have to respect all human beings because the 99 percent pays their salary,” Ribera said.
Suhr said he felt proud with how his officers handled the occupy movement. He had cops who participated in disassembling the protests stand up and be applauded at the symposium.
SFPD Lieutenant Bill Roualdes was one of the attendees who participated in dismantling occupy protests.
“Each day down there was different. They [police officers] did a lot of speaking with leaders of the group with how to handle the situation best for everyone,” Roualdes said.
Suhr said one of the disagreements regarding how to address the occupy situation was whether the protest was a legitimate assembly defended by the first amendment right or if it had become a homeless encampment.
Another challenge was the rapid organization of Occupy protestors through social media.
Two real scenarios were presented during a forum held January 10 analyzing the expansion of Twitter and Facebook communication. Ex FBI agent Mr. George Grotz and SFPD Commander Richard Corriea facilitated the discussion insisting officers had to become more familiar with social media.
Analyzing the opportunity Twitter and Facebook provide protestors to disperse their message and gather large numbers relatively quickly, the moderators highlighted the ways in which officers could also become informed of protest demonstrations by increasing their presence online.
In an earlier presentation by President Emeritus of the University of Nortre Dame, Father Edward Malloy, S.J. also gave the officers suggestions in how to better control the way in which the media portrays the police.
Among his suggestions regarding television coverage in particular, Malloy said officers should have a designated speaker that provides one clear message. The goal is to prevent the media from capturing a sound bite from the officers when they’re frustrated and angry while they are on duty.
Captain Dominic Celaya of SFPD and USF alum said he felt TV coverage of occupy began with the group’s causes for protest and transformed into a war between protestors and the police.
Celaya said officers are usually informed when protests will take place to protect those who attend the event. Yet, the spontaneous nature of protests and civil disobedience is not one where protestors warn officers of their future activities.
A San Francisco native, Celaya said unexpected events such as the violence in the Mission after the baseball victory of the Giants are what motivate his department to prepare for the best and worst situations.
Feds Use Local Cops to Deport Undocumented Immigrants
During the final presentation at the symposium, immigration lawyer Mr. Jim Byrne , ACLU representative Ms. Julia Mass, USF professor Mr. Bill Hing and retired U.S. attorney General Josephy Rusoniello presented contrasted views in a panel discussing the role of local police in immigration policy.
Discussing San Francisco’s resistance and Contra Costa’s compliance to the federal Secure Communities (S-Comm) ICE program, provided statistics on the thousands of undocumented immigrants deported with the collaboration of local police.
Under S-Comm, the fingerprints of any person arrested by local police are sent to ICE for investigation with or without officers’consent.
Mr. Byrne personalized the issue speaking about his immigrant roots. Ms. Mass presented ACLU cases in which families were separated because parents were deported under unjustifiable measures. Mr.Hing and Mr. Rusoniello agreed that the drive behind the influx of immigrants is economic opportunity.
Mexican police investigator Rafael Navarro said in Spanish that if the United States didn’t offer immigrants the opportunity to make money doing cheap labor, immigrants wouldn’t come. Likewise, if the number of drug consumers in the United States wasn’t so high, Mexico might not currently be facing a war against drugs in its country.
When asked about how officers control the growing Central American immigrant population in Mexico, Mexican police official Melissa Cardena said in Spanish, “There used to be unrestricted transit within borders. The borders are now closed but Central Americans blend in so we don’t arrest them.”