Today was Back-to-School day in Milpitas.
And the Milpitas Police Department was out in full force, dropping by every single school in the district in an effort to promote safety, build relationships, and ensure a sense of security among residents.
Earlier this week, on 8/13, Milpitas Police Chief Armando Corpuz wrote a letter to the public in an effort to “calm any concern or angst in our community” in light of recent mass shootings across the nation. He wrote about how the Police Department is “consistently training,” and about how its staff has been equipped “with the necessary tools to ensure they can respond to save lives.”
In a recent interview with The Beat, Chief Corpuz said, “I felt the need to write the letter after some of the meetings I’ve been to recently in the community. People are concerned. So not only do we want to enhance safety, but we want to be receptive to their fear of being a crime victim.”
The Milpitas Police Department’s efforts to enhance safety were on clear and open display today. Many officers were seen on foot and/or in their cars, walking onto school campuses and/or patrolling the areas surrounding them.
Police staff members’ duties were also shifted around for the day, so as to ensure that officers were more visible out in the community. For example, officers from crime reduction teams were assigned to go out to schools. Likewise, detectives were asked to put on their uniforms and go out and interact with school staff members.
“We’ve made a lot of adjustments to enhance safety,” Chief Corpuz said. “This [staff] adjustment isn’t sustainable long-term, but we will evaluate and determine what’s sustainable, whether it’s with schools, with public events, or places of worship.”
Right after the El Paso and Dayton shootings, the Milpitas Police Department had 5 requests for Run, Hide, or Fight presentations, which help to inform the public about what to do in the event of an active shooter situation. These 5 requests came within a 1-week period. “And we don’t usually have that amount of requests in a week. We might have 5 requests within the period of a month or two, if that. But it’s the concern that prompted people to call us,” said Chief Corpuz.
Just last week, the Milpitas Police Department went out to a church to give one such presentation to 50-60 people.
Nicole Steward is Milpitas Unified’s School-Linked Services Coordinator/Social Worker. Earlier today, she spoke with Chief Corpuz and Fire Chief Brian Sherrard, who’d made an effort to come to Milpitas High and check in on how things were going.
When asked if it was “normal” for a Police and Fire Chief to come out and visit a high school on Back-to-School day, Steward gave a firm “No,” saying that she’d worked in other school districts but that such had never taken place in them. She also added, “But that’s the beauty of Milpitas, that we do have chiefs that are willing to step out of the office, come be with folks, and let us know how they can support us and how we can support them.”
Chief Sherrard, who came onboard as Fire Chief of Milpitas this past November 2018, has been very active in coming out to community events and being available to connect with residents: “I think it’s important for people to see us and recognize we’re engaged in the community and with the citizens in Milpitas, outside of emergency response,” Chief Sherrard said. “People look to us and call 911 and expect us to respond. And we do so much for the community outside of that to make sure we’re prepared and connected. That’s why we’re out here having the conversations and collaborating with our partners.”
Even with the first day of school behind us, Milpitas Police officers still plan to be more of a visible presence across MUSD schools in the days to come. In addition, they’ll be rolling out “enhanced security plans” for large events in the community, and continuing with quality training and the purchasing of proper equipment.
“I want the community to know we’re here to be responsive to what their needs are,” said Chief Corpuz. “And we’re always putting ourselves in a state of readiness and preparedness to respond to any event.”
Caption on Photo: L to R ~ Chief Sherrard, Nicole Steward, and Chief Corpuz.