Newly Named CSUSB Police Chief John Guttierrez
By Dianne Anderson
Before Chief John Gutierrez got into law enforcement 32 years ago, police chiefs had only a few things to worry about, usually involving budgets, reducing or addressing crime that looked a lot different then than it does today.
The list grows longer for himself and many other police chiefs in general. Since the top of the year, the Gun Violence Archive reports 146 mass shootings in America.
“We are facing many things, the increase in violent crime, hate crime, budgetary constraints, including terrorism,” he said.
Safety is the first thing he thinks about every morning, but he also believes preparation is critical, it’s the first strategy toward safety.
Guttierrez came on as a police lieutenant at CSU San Bernardino two years ago, and has also served as the interim police chief. He was recently chosen as the new chief from among a nationwide search.
His department hosts 32 to 50 presentations on active shooter scenarios for the entire campus community, both in San Bernardino and Palm Desert. Students and staff learn how to respond in real time, what to expect from the campus safety team, notifications and transparency for parents with students on campus.
Annual safety reports are published, including security and fire reports. Regular campus-wide drills are held for earthquake, fire and active shooter, and they are looking at modern technology and lockdown options. Cameras are placed throughout CSUSB and the Palm Desert campus with department oversight.
“We’ve been doing everything we can to keep the campus community safe, uniformed police patrol, police presence moving about campus on bike, foot and car,” he said.
Annually, they test protocols and revisit policies to ensure best practices are in place. He is always on the lookout for how to keep the campus out of the danger zone, sadly examining each of the national incidents, and learning from tragedies on how to improve upon the systems.
“We try to revisit our protocols in more real time, [that] is there is something we’re missing here to be more to keep people safe and be more preventative,” he said.
In July, he said they are planning a multi-agency active shooter drill, coming together with partners, including the San Bernardino Police Department, County Sheriffs, and San Bernardino school police. They are also working with the County’s Fire and Rescue Task Force.
All of his campus officers have been trained in mental health awareness, and in general, there are more mental health emergencies called in, far more prevalent than when he got into the field.
His team continues training and education around mental illness, also partnering with San Bernardino County Behavioral Health, and a mental health expert housed at the university police department working with patrol teams in case of crisis.
Any time or after dark, he said students or faculty can call community dispatch for an escort to their car or ride, and the escorts stay until they are safely in the car and leave.
In August, a new CSUSB safe app will be available to download to phones, containing safety and easy access information. Callers can be live with dispatch and resources sent to students in need. He hopes to see it on all phones for all students across campus.
Over the months, he’s been out recruiting to get more officers into the fold, and hopefully more Black officers. He’s visited Ecclesia Church, and Westside Action Group trying to recruit under the mantra that the community can be the change they want to see.
But his big concern is that the Black community is not rushing to join. He understands the reluctance.
“For our African American community, we have had more than our fair share of law enforcement based on our interactions, and the way we’ve been treated historically by the law enforcement community,” he said.
At the same time, having served in the profession for three decades, he knows there are some obvious bad apples in general, but he said there are also many good officers doing good things.
“What I’ve noticed working for the Los Angeles school department and engaging in the community is that our African American community was so happy to see a Black person in this uniform because it was rare, and even more rare to see a Black police chief,” he said.
Guttierez also served as a sergeant with the San Bernardino City Unified School District Police Department.
He said some of the best police officers come from within CSUSB, and they have started meeting with the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice program on campus, recruiting officers out of that program.
Everywhere he goes, he said he feels like a walking billboard, trying to recruit African American men and women to the profession.
“It starts with signing up, me encouraging them, and telling them that this profession and their community need them. If they want to learn more about the job, email the chief.”
To apply for a Police Dispatcher or Police Officer, see firstname.lastname@example.org
For questions on being a police officer or dispatcher, ask the chief at email@example.com