Public Safety officer Andrew Flores stresses communication and friendliness in student/P-Safe relationships.
An East Los Angeles kid from a family of educators, Assistant Chief Flores always wanted to end up working for a college or university. He joined the University of Redlands community on February 5 and has been fully trained on university practices.
Moving to Walnut, CA from East L.A. as a child to avoid problems with drugs and gangs, Mr. Flores was often reminded of how pleasant his childhood was relative to other family members.
“My dad was a laborer and worked really hard to get us out of there,” shared Flores. “We went back to East L.A. every weekend to visit family so I knew how privileged I was living in Walnut.”
His familiarity around drugs and gangs was a factor in his decision to become a police officer. Flores went on a ride-along and was awestruck by how natural it felt to him to be in a police car. He was committed “from the minute [he] sat in that car with the chatter on the radio and the creaks in the leather.” Flores was motivated to make a difference in damaged communities.
“It takes someone who can go in and help people,” Flores said. “You hear good and bad things about police officers and I wanted to be a force for good.”
His path to becoming a cop wasn’t smooth sailing. Failing miserably in his first interview, Flores cites the lack of preparation as the cause for his initial rejection from the police academy. A first-generation college student, he simply didn’t have the information needed to excel initially. Instead, he enrolled at Rio Hondo College as a student. With the opportunity to compete with already-accepted trainees, Flores finished second in his class with several job offers across Southern California. Rising through the ranks from an officer to a captain, Flores served Riverside P.D. for over 30 years.
Flores’ interest in education goes back decades and was exemplified by his decision to work as a field training officer, where he still teaches. No matter the job, Flores believes that education makes a better candidate.
“I’ve always had this passion for higher education,” said Flores. “In my experience, educated police officers make better decisions.”
Public Safety Chief Jeff Talbott wrote the following over email about Flores’ hiring:
“More than any other factor, we were looking for someone who was the right fit for the university environment, with a demonstrated understanding of the role we serve […] Members of the selection panel unanimously believed Andrew excelled in the skills necessary to effectively serve the university community.”
The Assistant Chief position was a great opportunity for Mr. Flores to both continue his career in law enforcement and assist a university campus.
“I really like working with young people—with their ideals and their vision for life,” said Flores.
Spending the past week in Clery training, Flores learned a lot about University regulations and procedures.
“It has to do with crime reporting and prevention, sexual assault policies and much more,” Flores said.
As Assistant Chief, Flores’ priorities go beyond maintaining a safe campus.
“We’re trying to teach and educate students in addition to preventing dangerous situations,” said Flores.
In preparing for the possibility of an active shooter on campus, Flores believes that the greatest asset to students is the wealth of experience public safety officers wield.
“The biggest thing is prevention. If you see something, say something. In a lot of incidents across the nation it didn’t go that way.”
The run/hide/fight plan is Public Safety’s strategy of choice. In an active shooter situation, it’s recommended that you first run towards a safer position or hide if there’s nowhere to go. If discovered, the last resort is to defend yourself by any means necessary.
Flores described the relationship between Public Safety and the City of Redlands Police department as strong.
“We prepare for all kinds of emergencies,” said Flores. “I just got here a month ago but I’ve already met several times with safety committees and emergency preparedness. We look at scenario-based problem solving.”
The interactions between Public Safety and students should be marked with high trust, according to Mr. Flores.
“I want a cooperative relationship where we can talk about safety issues or anything from the weather to our sports teams,” Flores said.
If students notice anything off-putting about their environment, Public Safety urges them to report it to (909) 748-8888.
“They can remain confidential but it’s very important to get that information,” Flores said. “I see us here as a part of your journey in making good decisions […] I’d like students to feel comfortable approaching any P-Safe officer for any reason.”
Photo contributed by Redlands Bulldog photographer, Caillie Roach.
An edit was made to this article correcting the name of photographer Caillie Roach.