PCC’s new police chief vows to elevate safety

Pasadena City College (PCC)

As Pasadena City College’s (PCC) newly appointed Chief of Police, Stanton “Stan” H. Perez recalled the moment he knew he wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. He was 13 years old and was riding his bike in an unsafe area near his home in Sacramento, when a highway patrol officer approached him and asked if his mother would approve of where he was playing. Perez responded that his mother did not approve of him playing in that location.

Taking him by the hand, Perez said the “spit and polished” officer guided him back home. Perez was deeply impressed by the fatherly and protective officer and everything he represented.

“I have attained the things I have in my career, not because I am so super wonderful that nobody has these skills,” Perez said, “but because people took me under their wings and they gave me opportunities.”

The impressions made by that officer are reflected in Perez’s view of how his department will serve the campus community. “Our approach here is a lot more… campus policing, community policing that you feel in your heart,” he said of discussions with President Mark Rocha and Vice President Richard Van Pelt.

“Police are here to protect and to provide a service and we are not heavy-handed and we take a really gentle approach,” Perez said. Incidents of unnecessary police force like at Santa Monica College or UC Davis could never happen at PCC, he added.

Van Pelt praised the background of Perez, whom he said “comes from a distinguished career in law enforcement, both in the military and civilian arenas.  He also comes from a background of emergency management planning and implementation.”

Prior to his 27-year-career with the CHP, Perez said he enlisted in the Air Force three days after his seventeenth birthday.

After the CHP, Perez had a brief run for El Dorado County sheriff. His career is vast for a man of only 55 years, but he was humble and soft spoken as he descried the interview process for his PCC position. “Without question [it was] the most involved, most rigorous, most challenging process that I have ever gone through,” he said.

“Chief Perez was chosen from an initial pool of dozens of candidates,” Van Pelt said of the arduous selection process. “We narrowed the field down to eight highly qualified people, who were interviewed.  That was then reduced to four finalists, then two, and Chief Perez was selected.”

President Rocha praised the newcomer. “I did interview Chief Perez for the position and I can tell you we are very fortunate to have a leader with such a distinguished record of accomplishment,” he said. “I know that Chief Perez will enhance the safety and security of the entire college community and continue the tradition of our campus police department as a service organization.”

With a long career of public service it isn’t surprising that Perez has had to deal with adversity and challenges. However, Perez said he prefers to diffuse potentially dangerous situations by using every verbal negotiating tactic available, even in dealings with gang members. That philosophy that has served him well and possibly minimized the number of enemies that he may have racked up as a result of performing his duties.

The inherent personal dangers associated with his job don’t seem to bother Perez. As an embodiment of the “spit and polished” officer he met all those years ago, Perez is more concerned with the success and well-being of the officers and cadets under his wing. He noted that the most traumatic moments in his career involved removing someone from their position or breaking the news of a fallen officer to their family.

“I love being the person who guides somebody through life. I love that ability to take care of somebody,” Perez said. “I always see the world and my life in the greatest possible perspective.”

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