When Cal State Fullerton Police Captain Carl Jones retired from the University Police Department two years ago, he didn’t anticipate returning to campus … he was focused on spending more time with his family, traveling and enjoying a slower pace of life.
So imagine his surprise when he received a call from President Fram Virjee asking him to consider a return to campus, at least on a temporary basis, as chief.
“I love it here,” said Jones. “It’s actually been exciting although my role is different. I’ve received nothing but positive support.”
Jones concurs that much has happened in the two years since he retired from the UPD.
“The George Floyd killing created a great deal of distrust about policing,” he admitted. “I certainly understand people’s concerns. And though the officers at this department had nothing to do with that incident or other cases of police brutality, I do realize this badge represents the establishment that some consider oppressive.
“Right now, people are fearful and resentful. It is our job to reach out and let folks know that we expect and demand better of our officers and that that type of behavior will not be tolerated. Our responsibility is to help and serve our campus population.”
Jones notes that oftentimes the UPD receives calls that can be “life impacting.”
“For instance, if students are studying and leave their space unattended for a brief moment,” he said. “They come back and all of their stuff is gone, such as a driver’s license, car/house keys, cash, debit/credit cards, etc. Or they observe and want to report some suspicious activity or they’re being threatened in some way. That’s why they need us. We’re here to help them.”
Jones began his law enforcement career after serving 20 years in the United States Marine Corps. When he retired from military service, he wanted to continue in a role that was dedicated to service … and that led to police work for four years at Cal State Long Beach before serving at Cal State Fullerton.
“I remain positive and committed to making connections with people,” he said. “With higher levels of distrust, I think we need to be proactive and focus more on outreach rather than expecting people to come to us. We have enjoyed much success with programs, such as ‘Coffee With a Cop,’ ‘Listening and Sharing’ and meeting with student organizations where we connect with students, faculty and staff.”
Although ‘Coffee With a Cop’ and other programs have gone virtual or been put on pause due to the pandemic, Jones is hopeful the department will reinstitute them once the virus is under control. In the meantime, officers are committed to walking the campus daily and engaging in positive conversations with students, faculty and staff.
“When I’m walking, I try to make eye contact, and if folks seem receptive, I’ll have a brief conversation and give them my card and ask them to contact me directly if they have any problems, concerns or desire to learn more about what we do.
“We hope that people feel comfortable enough to come and knock on our door if they have any concerns,” he said. “We don’t want to see what happens elsewhere happen on our campus. Our quick response times, training on how to better deal with individuals who may be suffering a mental crisis, de-escalation training — these all align with our intent to diffuse tense situations without compromising anyone’s safety. Our goal is to achieve a positive outcome for both sides.
“During my time in this position, I am committed to doing everything within my capacity to live up to our mission to ensure the university community’s right to a crime-free environment through exemplary and professional service,” Jones concluded.