- Oakland Unified School District
- Employee Profiles
Police Services: Ride Along with Officer Lam and Skyline's School Site Officers
After a year and half on the job with OUSD Police Services and 10 years in the career, Officer Roland Lam says the the typical day “doesn’t exist, we just have to be ready for things to pick up fast.” He invited us to ride along to see what it takes to keep the schools and community in District 4 safe day in and day out.
In just two hours on the beat, it became clear that the hard-working officers and School Site Officers are used to expecting the unexpected and dedicated to building relationships with students and the community.
10 a.m.: Pick up from 1000 Broadway
- What do you expect out of the day?
- I left my house at 7:30 and today I’ll get home around 9 p.m. because there’s a basketball game tonight. Maybe earlier though because my wife is about to have a baby!
- Congratulations!!! What does it mean to be on the beat in District 4?
- I’m in the field all day long. The first thing I do when I get in my car is look for calls at our schools. If there aren’t any, I’ll check in with people, community building and that kind of thing. Since I’m a police officer I also have to respond to things that happen on the street if I have the time. We can’t respond to everything, so we have to be smart about what we get into.
- Why do you have a computer in your cruiser?
- It’s field-based reporting system that displays a board of all incidents in each patrol area coded by type of issue, priority level, and officers assigned. It’s linked with the Oakland Police Department’s system, all of our reports and information is centralized. We use radio to communicate with our dispatchers and the schools.
10:15: On the road: traffic violation spotted
- That guy just turned on a no turn on red, he’s getting on a freeway. These are the battles I choose every day – if I go after him, he might have a warrant or something that could tie me up, but traffic violations are not considered serious crimes so we try not engage with them unless we have to.”
10:30: Check-in at Skyline High School
- How do you work with the schools in District 4?
- We work closely with principals and our counterparts at schools who contact us if there is a situation where they need backup. Officers don’t want to get involved in any discipline or fight issues, and that’s per policy. The schools can handle most conflicts on an administrative level unless there’s a safety issue or crime, which is when we step in.
- Tell us about how you approach tense situations.
- The best way to mitigate most things is by just providing presence and trying to gain rapport with people. Most kids are able to calm down, especially if they recognize us, they don’t want to be in trouble with the law or with their parents.
- You mentioned de-escalation, what is that all about?
- It’s about creating time and distance. When kids get really amped up, they are spiraling into their emotions. You need to put a wedge in that spiral by talking to them in a calm voice and understanding the behavior you observe. It requires a lot of patience and compassion to interact with them.
11 a.m.: Meet and greet with two of Skyline High’s six School Site Officers who are present at the school each day and are responsible for keeping the 1,800 + students safe.
Kelly Moss, School Safety Officer, during passing time:
- “My son is a football player on the Fremont team, he’s been in OUSD since kindergarten and he’s a senior now so these are his friends and my friends kids. I’ve known most of them for a while, so I can throw that ‘I’ll call your momma’ kind of card. We’re good so a lot of times kids come up to us and tell us about things before they happen.”
Antonio Campbell Jr., School Safety Officer, patrolling the upper campus:
- “This is my first full year at Skyline. My favorite part, if I can be honest, is being on this cart. I love this cart and it makes me feel good all day long. The hardest part is when a kid that you know gets involved in something they shouldn’t be, it kind of breaks your heart.”
11:30 a.m.: Waved down by AC Transit driver in distress while driving back, Officer Lam boards the bus
- That was a situation where the driver was concerned about an intoxicated and belligerent passenger. I had to be patient and build rapport with the guy while I called for backup, he needs to be taken in. We just deal with situations as they come!
12 p.m.: Drop-off & goodbye
- What is the best part of your job?
- Each day I look forward to unwinding after a shower, knowing that I’ve completed all my tasks and that the schools are safe. It’s a tough job but the experience has been excellent in terms of building skills like patience, compassion, being able to communicate – I’m probably going to use those skills with my own kids!
- Any advice you’d like to share before you go?
- I tell students what I learned from my college professor – nobody can really police other people, you have to police yourself. Your own feelings, thoughts and actions are only yours to control.