SAN MARCOS — Coffee with a Cop was another success at Palomar, as officers were seen smiling, laughing with one another, and talking with students. All while trying to get the message out that the team is more than keeping the campus safe.
On Nov. 28, Palomar’s Outreach program collaborated with the campus police by offering friendly conversations between students and officers. The team was posted by the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) building, with a table full of informational flyers, free snacks, and some fun red sunglasses.
Officer Gerard Perez has worked at Palomar since 1991 and was the first officer hired on campus. Perez has seen gradual changes at Palomar, including improvements (such as buildings) and inclusive diversity created within the school.
Perez and the police department at Palomar are not only keeping students and staff safe on campus but also involved with some criminal justice classes, the Palomar Promise program. Even events like, most recently, the Trunk-or-Treat in Oct.
“We do a lot of inclusion with the veterans and LGBTQ and talk with international students… We believe in a lot of interaction and communication,” Perez said.
Coffee With a Cop also helps create relationships between campus police and Palomar’s first-year students. Lead Community Service Officer David Raza voiced how creating a bond with new students, some being out of the country, helps them settle in and have the community come together.
Most of the officers present at the event were former students. Because many of the officers that attended Palomar, Perez believes they can relate to and understand what new students face in their educational journey.
Chief Chris Moore, lastly spoke about the overall job and what it is like to be a part of Palomar.
Since the officers work day and night from Monday to Thursday on campus, they look at the school calendar to be there when most students are present. Some of the officers stay till 11 p.m. to make sure students are getting home safely. Campus police want students and staff to ensure their safety, even if a student may forget something on campus late at night.
“We’ve had a couple of incidents, and because of these relationships, they’ll come to us and say, hey, there’s a guy in my class that said weird things…” Perez said.
Moore has been in situations where they could’ve escalated, but because he and the officers have met and talked to the students involved, they’ve resolved problems with tranquility. Moore explained that when students and staff report to them, it helps the team and Palomar to check in on that person or incident, creating a bond between all.
“The bigger we have trust with students and staff, the more we can get information to protect the campus. That’s what everyone is here for,” Moore said.
The Police department has its own Instagram @pcpdblue for those interested in attending the next event, staying updated, or connecting with an officer.