Lead by Chief William Wu, the department has undergone dramatic improvements over the past couple of years. For example, the Compton School Police Department was the only school police force honored at this year’s Peace Officers Association of Los Angeles County (POALAC) Awards banquet.
Wu, handpicked by the Board of Education in 2013 to lead those changes, is a different kind of police chief. Educated as a lawyer, he brings both legal and law enforcement skills and experience to the job.
So it was little surprise the Chief was selected by his peers - other school police chiefs from across the state - to lead a new statewide organization, the California Association of School Police Chiefs, (CASPC).
We sat down with the Chief to learn more about the organization.
Why is an organization like this important?
We are all policemen but we have different focuses, different sets of laws and procedures that are in place. In the K-12 environment, not only do we enforce the (state’s) penal code we also have the education code that impacts how we do things. Plus various codes that are unique to school districts that regular police don’t encounter much in their daily work.
Informally, we got together periodically and shared information, talked about things, exchanged ideas. But we figured by making it formal with a name, mission statement, goal and a focus of serving K12 policy chiefs. We can have a unified voice.
Why is that important?
There’s been a couple of public safety bills (out of the state legislature) that may impact K-12 environments. There was a recent bill that relates to conceal carry permits and how it relates to K-12 environment. The bill seeks to take away the autonomy of local districts and put it in the hands of the state to decide who can carry a concealed weapon on a K-12 campus and who can’t.
We believe on issues specific as this we need to have our own voice. That impacts directly how we operate in our environment.
Labor code for workers comp. The (legislature) did not write in school police under the workers compensation law for police that give benefits for injuries on duty. So if a city policeman gets injured, if it’s in the line of duty, he gets additional time to recover and recuperate. That’s in the labor code but they did not write in school police (to receive that same benefit).
These things (are examples) where they don’t think of us – 'you guys forgot we’re all police and we should have the same protections or the same considerations.'
Ride along with the Chief on patrol.