Helping protect BC’s campus for 22 years

Chris Miller, Reporter

Many students see public safety officers patrol around campus and assume they don’t do a whole lot more than drive around and look important. I had the opportunity to ride-along with Senior Officer Marco Sifuentes during most of his shift, and experience first-hand how much work a public safety officer does on a daily basis, and how important that work is.
As soon as the ride-along began, Sifuentes was told there was an incident in a student parking lot. We got into his patrol car and drove to the parking lot. As soon as we arrived, we could see a woman who was visibly upset sitting in her car blocking another lady. Sifuentes got out of his patrol car and approached the woman who was visibly upset. He attempted to calm her down and asked about what was going on.
The upset woman was angry at the lady in the parking space because that lady cut her off and stole the parking spot from her right as she was about to park there. The upset woman explained that she was late for class and was upset that the other lady stole one of the few available parking spots left from her. Sifuentes issued her a free parking permit to calm her down and allow her to find a parking space easier.
After the woman drove off, Sifuentes approached the second lady who stole the parking space. The lady explained that she stole the space because she had been searching for a parking space for a very long time and had even followed students around to see if they were going to leave a space open or not. He let her off with a warning saying that if there were any sort of retaliation between the two of them, he would report it to the dean and there would be dire consequences.
After deescalating the situation and returning to his patrol vehicle, he told me that many students are unaware of the rules and their rights as a student of BC because they never read the student handbook.
As soon as the car began moving again, Sifuentes got a call from the Financial Aid Office to pick up keys a student turned into the office. Apparently, the keys were left in the driver-side door lock of a student’s parked vehicle with the door left wide open. A student who happened to pass by the unsecured vehicle noticed the key and locked the car up and turned the keys into the Financial Aid Office on their way to class.
After we entered the Financial Aid Office and collected the keys, Sifuentes began to patrol around the building.
“We like to do walkthroughs through a lot of the buildings where students do business to show we are around, and to hopefully deter students from making any outbursts,” he said.
Sifuentes further explained that the Financial Aid office and the Student Services office have been places of outbursts in the past, which is why the focus on walkthroughs tends to be there. He also said he patrols those areas a little more on slower days.
After finishing his walkthrough, we returned to his patrol car and he received another call. This time, the call was a report about a parked dark green Volkswagen on Haley St. that was left running by itself and the owner nowhere in sight. We found the Volkswagen and approached it to investigate. Sifuentes saw that the keys were left in the ignition and we could smell the exhaust wafting the air, signifying the car had been left running for a while.
Sifuentes took the keys out of the ignition and attempted to roll up the windows but was unable to because the buttons to roll up the windows no longer worked. He checked the car, as thoroughly as possible but was unable to figure out who the owner was. After securing the car as best as he could, he left a note and his card so the owner would know that the key was at the Public Safety Office’s lost and found.
Later on patrol, he got a call saying a wheelchair bound student in class was having shortness of breath and was in pain. We arrived at the classroom where the student was and he explained how he tumbled down on his own driveway that morning. He hurt himself, but forced himself to go to class anyway because there was a test he didn’t want to miss. Sifuentes called for a vehicle to pick up the student to take him to the Health Center to get checked out and wait for his brother to pick him up.
As we were leaving to continue patrol, we were approached by a man in a big truck. Ironically, it was the brother of the wheelchair bound student from before. He was looking for the Health Center and happened to bump into me and Sifuentes. Sifuentes directed the man to where his brother was and then we resumed his patrol.
By this time during his shift, there was more downtime. During that downtime Sifuentes jump-started two students’ vehicles. He also went up to each of the four parking permit dispensers located on campus to take the money out of them. Ifthose dispensers get filled, they stop dispensing permits because there’s no room for any more money. Sifuentes always makes it a point to clear out and fix the dispensers every day to make it more convenient for the students who are parking.
Just as his shift was nearing its end and it didn’t seem like anything more would happen, Sifuentes received a call about two girls who were seeking an officer to report on an incident involving themselves and two suspicious men who approached them. We found the two girls and they explained to Sifuentes that the two suspicious men approached them and asked them if they wanted to work at a restaurant one of the two men owned. They also asked the girls what their names were and where they lived. The girls declined their offer and refused to give any personal information. The men also wanted to know if the girls knew of any other girls who might be interested in the job, but the girls refused to comment.
As the two girls got up and left, they saw that one of the two men kept looking at them and that he was licking his lips in a suggestive manner.
Sifuentes walked the girls to their classes so they would feel more secure. He then began searching for the two suspicious men on foot while Public Safety Director, Chief Christopher Counts, searched for them in his patrol car. Sifuentes saw the two men walking towards the Humanities building. He told me to stay back and he approached the two suspicious men after calling Counts up for backup. The two officers questioned the men and asked for their IDs. The men claimed they were only looking for student employees to work at a restaurant. Sifuentes and Counts made the two men leave the campus with the promise of arresting them if they returned and tried again.
After the confrontation, both Sifuentes and Counts told me that day was what they considered a “slow day.”