Getting Involved and Building Community
By Reggie Parson
Being born into a military family, I could draw from my experience living around the world as I stepped into the SF State community as a 19-year-old transfer student-athlete in the fall of 1989. I made my first campus visit with my parents for a tour with football Assistant Coach Steve Garcia. It was an exciting, lively environment compared to my hometown — Seaside, California — so I was determined to make it my permanent home.
I lived on campus my first year and was grateful for the structure it provided. I met many people by living on campus, and I benefited from getting involved and building community. It opened many doors for me, including becoming a student leader as a resident assistant in 1992. I also got involved with student organizations, including joining my esteemed fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha in 1993.
As a resident assistant, I had many opportunities to meet and work with University Police Department (UPD) officers. These positive interactions changed my negative perception of law enforcement into a viable career pathway. One of those officers, Pat Wasley, became a career mentor. Pat shared his experience working on campus and for UPD. He also shared how he worked with various campus partners, all in the effort to support student success. Pat engaged in building community with student residents and participated in community programming when he was available.
“I firmly believe in the importance of developing trusting relationships with the community I serve.”
During this period, I received an appointment as a student representative for the Public Safety Advisory Ad-hoc Committee. Through my service on the committee, I met UPD Police Chief Kim Wible, who encouraged me to apply for a police officer position. I applied for the job and was hired as an entry-level police officer on June 29, 1996, after completing the recruitment process.
I completed police academy training at the South Bay Regional Training Consortium and began my tour of duty at SF State. As an officer, I actively engaged with students by being involved in campus events and programs through collaborations with campus partners. I promoted through the ranks at UPD to my current appointment — effective Aug. 12 of this year — as the AVP and chief of police.
I accepted the position at a time of extreme challenge and strife with the global pandemic and the systematic violence against our Black community. Nationally, trust between law enforcement and the community is at an all-time low. So I plan to enlist our community’s support as we seek to make internal reforms with policy review and updates and develop a comprehensive training plan for the Division of Campus Safety staff. We will also establish goals and objectives created and assessed through the lens of supporting Black lives and our communities of color at SF State. We will also develop and implement structures within SF State, such as our inaugural Public Safety Advisory Committee, to improve trust and strengthen community with students, staff and faculty. Our goal is to be co-producers of greater public safety with the campus community.
Like Pat, Chief Wible and dozens of other UPD officers I’ve met over the years, I firmly believe in the importance of developing trusting relationships with the community I serve and building structures that support community policing. I am very proud of my work at SF State and consider it a great honor to serve the campus community as a true Gator at heart.