FAIRFIELD — The first day of school at Solano Community College this week started out lucky for one person who got a warning instead of a parking ticket.
The black Toyota was parked in the middle of the driving area of the parking lot and not in the stalls – the driver possibly confused by the reconfiguring of Lot 6 with its blackened out lines that attempt to mask former parking spaces.
Sheriff’s Deputy Adrian Garcia instructed Ben Salazar, 18, to put the warning ticket on the windshield when he was done.
“So, under ‘remarks’ do I just put ‘warning?’ ” Salazar asked Garcia as Tayler Neth, 21, and Nick Paulin, 18, watched.
Salazar, Neth and Paulin are criminal justice students at Solano College and the first three to be accepted into the newly resurrected police aide program.
The goal of the aide program is twofold, said interim campus police Chief Scott Paulin, who likened the position to one that sits between a police cadet and community services officer – students earn class credit and upon completion of the volunteer hours also get paid.
Paulin said the campus gains additional uniformed presence and the students benefit from mentorship and the ability to test the waters and see if law enforcement is the career for them.
“I saw it as a good way to get involved in law enforcement,” Salazar said. “I’ve thought about (the career) for a long time – now I’m starting to pursue it.”
Monday was the students’ first official walkabout on campus – most of their patrolling will be on foot, which is what Garcia prefers because it puts him and the police aides in direct touch with the students. Garcia is one of the sheriff’s deputies stationed at the college campus; he is also the police aide coordinator.
“I don’t like to drive through the campus,” he said. “. . . my intent is not to isolate myself from the students.”
The program was resurrected after a 10-year hiatus that began when the campus sergeant who began the program left, said Scott Paulin, who is Nick Paulin’s father.
“When he retired, the program kind of retired with him and no one picked it up,” the chief said.
Former interim campus Chief Ed Goldberg, who has alternated in the interim chief position with Scott Paulin since August 2012, said he wanted to start the program the first time he was installed in the position after the permanent campus police chief was put on administrative leave. Too many other things that needed to be taken care of first stood in the way until this semester, he said.
Goldberg said the pool of applicants numbered about 20 and they were put through checks much like a potential police officer, including a background investigation, lie-detector test, work background check and character references.
“(These) three rose to the top,” Goldberg said of Nick Paulin, Neth and Salazar.
Much of their duties will focus on assisting in various capacities such as writing citations, walking the campus to give a visual presence, providing escorts from late-night classes, and handling customer service and errands. The three already gained hands-on experience with a suspected auto burglary their first day on board, Goldberg said. They participated in the full investigation from fingerprinting to taking photos of the smashed vehicle window to talking with the victim and writing up a police report.
“I thought we were going to have to simulate one,” Goldberg said of the incident, which, while stressful for the victim, gave the police aides experience.
All of the skills learned will give them a solid background for eventual entry into the police academy after the aides graduate from Solano College with an associate degree in criminal justice, Garcia said. All three plan to go that path with some slight deviations: Salazar plans to get his bachelor’s degree and then go to the academy, Neth is looking for an entry-level police position in a department that will put her through the academy and Nick Paulin said he plans to apply to the police academy upon graduation.
As they walked around the campus Monday for their first time – Garcia and the three police aides, all in uniform – they earned their fair share of attention.
“This is awkward,” Neth said as they entered their first building, the cafeteria. “Everyone is staring at us.”
Nick Paulin echoed the feeling and said it was a “different” experience.
“You’re in the spotlight with everyone looking at you,” he said.
Garcia said it’s all a little intimidating for them at first, but, he said, they’re going to have to learn how to conquer that fear.
As the walk progressed and they patrolled everywhere from that initial building to the administrative building and into the library, it seemed to get easier with Garcia’s help, information and guidance along the way. Outside the police office in Building 1800B, Garcia stopped once again to speak to the aides.
“People are going to start noticing you . . . in and out of uniform,” he said to them. “It’ll get easier for you . . . you guys will get used to it.”
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.
(2013 statistics will be out at the end of January)
2010, 0; 2011, 0; 2012, 0
2010, 3; 2011, 4; 2012, 0
2010, 1; 2011, 2; 2012, 0
Forcible sex offense
2010, 0; 2011,0; 2012, 0
2010, 0; 2011, 0; 2012, 0
Motor vehicle theft
2010, 7; 2011, 2; 2012, 2
2010, 61; 2011, 60; 2012, 33
Liquor law violations
2010, 0; 2011, 0; 2012, 1
Drug law violations
2010, 1; 2011, 0; 2012, 0
Illegal weapons possession
2010, 0; 2011, 0; 2012, 0
Source: Solano Community College