September 6, 2017
On June 28, Marc Pino, former interim police chief, officially became the chief of police. Susan Szpyrka, vice chancellor of Administration and Finance and a former chief of police, swore in Pino.
The move comes after 12-member committee completed a regional search which began in February.
The three candidates for the position, including Pino, Joseph Ribeiro, chief of the Manitou Springs Police Department, and Catherine Buckley, police lieutenant of the Colorado Springs Police Department, met with campus leaders and held open forums in May.
Pino’s career spans more than a decade at UCCS. In 2016, Pino was named interim chief of police following Brian McPike’s move to Pikes Peak Community College.
Prior to his time as an employee with Public Safety, Pino was an undergraduate student at UCCS. He is currently completing a master’s degree in the School of Public Affairs.
Aside from leading the UCCS Police Department, Pino has also been accepted to the FBI’s National Academy, which admits less than one percent of law enforcement.
The Scribe sat down with Pino to discuss his promotion, the future of safety at UCCS and his commitment to students.
Q: What draws you to UCCS?
A: I love the people I work with. I’ve been in this department for 13 years, and a lot of the people who really gave me a chance, in terms of law enforcement, are still here.
The thing I love about UCCS is that it’s such a unique place for law enforcement because we get the opportunity to really shape people’s opinions of law enforcement at a young age.
Once you get out into county and city law enforcement, a lot of times you’re getting a lot of the same calls with the same issues, and you can get a little bit jaded.
We get a whole new batch of students every four years, so it’s a whole new opportunity to meet and interact with people and once they leave UCCS, they’ll have a positive mindset of law enforcement that can hopefully help them be successful.
Q: You have said UCCS was safer on average than other universities of comparable size. What makes UCCS safe?
A: I think the biggest thing is the investment we get in the community, because we can only be in so many places at once. Really, we rely on our students, staff and faculty to report things they see that make them feel uncomfortable or out of place.
If someone were looking to do something bad here, they’d see that we take our security seriously. When things happen, they’re taken care of really quickly.
Our law enforcement officers have a good relationship with the community. When that doesn’t happen, you have a break in trust, and people don’t feel confident reporting to the police department.
Q: What projects are you working on to continue making UCCS safe for students?
A: We’re trying to increase our video surveillance across campus. We have some [cameras] on campus, but we’re trying to increase that a little bit.
I also want to create a Citizen Advisory Board so that we would have students, staff and faculty who would help us look at policies and give us outside perspective.
On a lot of citizen advisory boards, they’ll review the use of force incidents. That would give us an outside perspective to say, “that doesn’t violate policy, but it is concerning.” This would help increase trust within the community.
The other thing is just to try and build on our relationships in the community and with our local law enforcement officers.
Q: How much would it cost to have video surveillance on campus?
A: If we did everything we wanted to with video surveillance, it would cost about $300,000.
Now, we’re working through what that looks like in terms of funding. We’re also looking at alternative funding sources like grants that would not be from state-funded or university budgets.
It’s still in the very early phases of planning, but we’re looking into it.
Q: What do you feel set you apart from the other candidates for the police chief position?
A: I think being the internal candidate, you always have a little bit of an advantage because you know the culture, what the values of the institution are and what the expectations of the job are.
Both the other candidates were really qualified, but knowing that I fit the culture of what UCCS is trying to do helped me.
Q: What is one of the most common safety issue for students?
A: The most common types of crime students deal with are crimes of opportunity—theft, vandalism—things like that.
Bicycle thefts are one of the most common college campus crimes. If you’re going to invest in a good bike, invest in a good lock for it.
Drugs and alcohol, especially marijuana, are also typical for college campuses.
Q: What safety advice would you give students?
A: Take your own safety into your own hands, because you always want to look out for yourself. We can’t be everywhere. If you’re aware of your surroundings and report things to us, we might be able to identify something that’s going on and can prevent it from happening to anybody else too.