If UC Irvine is a campus where students, faculty and staff are able to focus on rewarding work, it’s thanks in part to the UCI Police Department, Chancellor Michael Drake said March 5.
Speaking at the third annual UCIPD Awards Breakfast, he lauded officers and staff for using “brain power and sensitivity” to establish a safe, orderly environment in which widely divergent points of view are expressed in words rather than violence.
“We wouldn’t be who we are without you,” he told assembled officers, civilian staff and UCIPD supporters in the packed University Club dining room.
Chief Paul Henisey cited statistics showing an active, growing campus with an admirably low crime rate, despite a recent uptick.
On any given school day, UCI’s population equals that of some of Orange County’s midsized cities, with more than 35,000 people. In 2008 there were 287 arrests on campus, most related to drugs or alcohol. Of the 1,281 reported crimes on campus (up from 931 in 2007), about 95 percent were property offenses.
“Building Safer Communities” was the theme of the UCIPD event. Honorees, chosen by the department’s command team from nominations put forth by supervisors and co-workers, included:
- Officer of the Year: Officer Ray Keith, a five-year veteran of the UCIPD, maintains a watchful eye on patrol and is one of the department’s primary outreach officers working with the campus community to standardize response procedures for active-shooter incidents. He helped develop safety presentations providing critical information about such shootings and workplace violence. Keith also participated in safety presentations tailored to specific audiences, such as foreign-exchange students, high school students, parents, faculty and campus housing staff. In addition, over the past year he has helped train new police officers and mentor community service officers. “He has truly distinguished himself,” Henisey said, “and has earned the admiration and respect of his peers and supervisors.”
- Supervisor of the Year: After more than 20 years at the UCIPD, Sgt. Steve Monsanto has become an expert at balancing enforcement and community outreach. His efforts on the UCI Alcohol Task Force contributed to the development of the Safe Onto Sober program. SOS, a project of the UCIPD, the Health Education Center, Student Judicial Affairs, and the Newport Beach and Huntington Beach police departments, provides students a place to recover when they are too impaired to care for themselves but not intoxicated enough to need medical attention. Additionally, Monsanto has worked with the Orange County Fire Authority, UCI Student Housing and Facilities Management to improve emergency response times and access to campus locations for emergency personnel. He encourages UCIPD officers to participate in community events and even founded one himself – the annual Car Show on the Green held during Celebrate UCI. “Without a doubt, he is an outstanding department ambassador,” Henisey said.
- Civilian Employee of the Year: Public Safety Dispatcher Megan Noack was recognized for her consistently outstanding performance, unflappable demeanor and willingness to work extra shifts when the UCIPD communications center is short-staffed. Dispatchers are the first point of contact for community members reporting incidents. Noack must remain calm while gleaning information critical to the safety of victims and responding officers. She demonstrated her professionalism in a recent call she took from a hysterical mother in Concord, Calif. The woman reported that her son had text messaged, saying he did not want to live. Noack reassured her and developed enough rapport to obtain more data and begin a search for the son. She accessed departmental resources, searched Facebook and found information that led to a residence in Orange. She alerted the Orange Police Department, whose officers found the young man with lacerations to his wrists. Thanks to Noack’s efforts, assistance arrived in time to prevent a tragedy. “Her consistent, outstanding work performance earned her this award,” Henisey said, “and it’s the first time this has ever been bestowed on a part-time employee.”
- Distinguished Service Commendation: Awarded by the UC Council of Police Chiefs, the commendation went to the UCI team that investigated and cracked an identity theft ring. Honorees were Cpl. Caroline Altamirano, Sgt. Shaun Devlin, Sgt. Anthony Frisbee, Sgt. Manse Sinkey, and Isaac Straley, information technology security manager with Network & Academic Computing Services. UCI became aware of the identity theft in March 2008, when students began reporting the problem to the university. When some students attempted to file their federal tax returns, the IRS informed them that returns already had been submitted using their Social Security numbers. The UCIPD received 163 identity theft reports. The team conducted an exhaustive review of information-security practices at UCI, identified the source of the breach at United Healthcare in Dallas and, with the help of Dallas law enforcement, arrested a suspect July 8, 2008. “This involved hundreds of hours, dozens of interviews and complicated computer analyses,” Henisey said. “The award is for particularly valuable service to the department.”