Police

CSUN Police History

When the San Fernando Valley State College opened its doors in 1958, the CSUN Campus Police opened as a division of Plant Operations. Chief Muncie ran police operations out of a temporary building located along Lindley Avenue. At the time, the Campus Police had both Police Officers and Security Officers.

For the most part, Police Officers worked during daytime hours while Security Officers maintained the security and safety overnight. In those days, officers received minimal training but were armed. Most criminal activity was investigated by the West Valley Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. Campus officers responded to calls for service in retired black and white police cars purchased from the California Highway Patrol. Police radios were not available and police officers were signaled from the campus boiler plant by use of a steam whistle. Campus officers would call the boiler plant for information on the call when they heard the police whistle signal.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s college campuses throughout the United States seemed to be under siege because of student unrest during the Vietnam War. At Kent State the National Guard were involved in shootings, at San Francisco State College the College President (S.I. Hiyakawa) was attacked by students, and at University of California Berkeley was facing multiple demonstrations and protests. At Northridge the student protests revolved around the military in Vietnam. Thousands of students marched from Northridge to the National Guard Base at Van Nuys. Dupont was recruiting on campus and also became the subject of protests because of their involvement in Vietnam. In 1971 the Sylmar Earthquake rocked the San Fernando Valley. The campus suffered minor damage but many freeways, and other buildings were damaged or destroyed. The campus escaped major damage because it didn’t have many permanent buildings.

During the early 1970’s the CSUN campus underwent protests on campus for the Vietnam War as well as racial tensions. The Los Angeles Police took over policing on campus during a period of time, using tear gas and batons to put down the student unrest. The counter-terrorist unit of the Los Angeles Police was caught spying on various student groups. “John Doe” warrants were issued to arrest students involved in the campus takeover. The campus administration was upset by the tactics used by LAPD. As a result of this concern the California State University and College System hired Ed Grace, a retired LAPD Captain, as a consultant for the campus police system wide. University President Praetor retired and the new President, James Cleary, became the second president at Northridge.

Captain Grace studied the campus police at the Northridge Campus and produced a report. He envisioned the Campus Police within the normal organization of a University with a Department head who supervises several departments. For the Campus Police he recommended a Department of Public Safety. Within that department were the Police Division, Parking Enforcement Division, Environmental Health and Safety Division, and the Communications Division. Each division was semi-autonomous with a division head that reported to the Director of Public Safety.

In the early 70’s the Chancellor’s office accepted Captain Grace’s report and hired him as Director of Public Safety at California State University Northridge. Northridge became the pilot project to determine if this program could be implemented system wide. Overall the pilot project was a success. The idea was implemented system wide although each campus was given the freedom to make adjustments to the program. Cal State Northridge became a POST certified agency in 1974 which required a particular level of training and continuing education.

As the campus grew, the temporary buildings were replaced by more permanent buildings. The Campus Police moved administratively away from Plant Operations to its own department. The campus removed the temporary building that formally housed the police department and the police department moved into a residential house owned by the campus. Captain Grace also felt that the police presence on campus was too harsh for the environment. To soften the image he used all white police cars with a simple police star on the door, and officers wore tan colored uniforms to differentiate them from the dark blue uniforms of the LAPD. The trend throughout the CSU System was to place the campus police stations out of the public view. Frequently it was difficult for the campus community to even locate the police station. Signs and maps indicated where “Campus Security” or “Public Safety” was located. The word Police was seldom used.

Under Ed Grace’s leadership the CSUN Police Department had 24 sworn police officers. All the security officers were absorbed into the department to serve in other capacities. The Police Department was literally a model for other campuses.

In 1984, Chief Ed Grace retired and Stan Friedman, a Lieutenant from UCLA was hired as the new Chief. Chief Stan Friedman made his mark on the California State University System by implementing the highly successful Motorcycle Patrol as a pilot project for the CSU System at CSUN. Several earthquakes challenged the campus and the Police Department during this ten year period. A shift in campus management moved the Campus Police from directly reporting to the University President to reporting to the Vice President for Student Affairs. Chief Friedman developed Housing’s first police unit in response to criminal activity in that area. The unit was later dismantled when CSUN Police Headquarters was moved into the first floor of an unoccupied housing building. In January 1994 the Northridge Quake struck the San Fernando Valley. Every campus building was damaged and eventually several had to be demolished. The Campus President brought in temporary buildings and opened the campus within two weeks of the regular start of the semester. The campus police supervised a crew of security guards hired to assist in the protection of the temporary buildings and permanent buildings under repair.

Chief Friedman retired in 1984 and Chief Harrison took the reigns of the department for the next two years. Chief Harrison retired in 1986 and Chief Seacrist took over leadership of the Police Department for the next two years. Under Chief Seacrist’s leadership the administrative control of the Department was moved under of the Vice President for Administration and Finance. Plans were made to move the Campus Police Station to a more visible location on campus. Campus Police Officers changed to the familiar black and white cars and dark blue uniforms similar to those worn by surrounding agencies. Between Chiefs, interim Chief Marcus Hissong took over the department in. Chief Hissong was a retired LAPD Sergeant who had been with the CSUN Police Department for twenty years as a Lieutenant and had filled in several times as interim Chief. Following the departure of Chief Seacrist, Lieutenant Fernandez took over as interim Chief for a brief period until he was replaced in a national search by Chief Anne Glavin.

--History Compiled by Sgt. James Stotler (Ret.)