The CSUN Department of Police Services (CSUN PD) has undergone a slew of changes since the beginning of the year, including a salary increase for its officers and the reorganization of leadership roles to provide better around-the-clock management for the campus.
Anne Glavin, CSUN chief of police, said the promotion of Mark Benavidez to lieutenant will add an additional leadership position to campus security, as he will serve as the night watch commander.
“It gives us the daytime and nighttime coverage we were lacking before,” Glavin said.
While Benavidez agrees that the promotion improves leadership, he believes it puts him in a better position to implement changes that would boost officer performance.
“It makes us better in that we have a leadership component at night where we are providing more focus on specific tasks or objectives that we want to obtain,” Benavidez said. “If there is something where I think we need additional training, I’m in a position where I can immediately identify that need and move forward with that type of training.”
Glavin believes Benavidez’s qualities, which he displayed since being hired in 2002, made him the right candidate for the position, which went unfilled since 2008.
“Mark has a great case resolution record and his work ethic is tremendous,” Glavin said. “He does an outstanding job, including being dedicated, hardworking and willing to do what it takes.”
Changes in organizational roles
In anticipation of future staffing changes, Glavin said Capt. Scott VanScoy and Capt. Alfredo Fernandez will be changing duties to make the transition more seamless.
“We’re moving around some of our command staff into different functions,” Glavin said. “Part of the reason I’m doing this is we’re expecting a number of retirements in the next two or three years that are going to have substantial impact on the department.”
Glavin said VanScoy is moving to special services and will command the detective unit, while continuing to head the accreditation program.
Meanwhile, Glavin said Fernandez is moving to patrol operations and will continue to monitor parking and transportation services in the short-term.
“Captain (Fernandez) still has an eye on parking as we’re still in the process of hiring a new parking manager,” Glavin said.
While changes in leadership may seem like a big deal, Glavin said leadership reorganization is a routine process in all police departments.
“It’s not a massive reorganization,” Glavin said. “All departments do some sort of reorganization here and there and it only affects our police patrol operations leadership and our parking division leadership.”
Lt. Mark Benavidez
For Benavidez, a career in law enforcement has always been a natural fit, given his penchant for police activities as a child.
“I’ve always, since I was little, had a fascination with police officers, so much so that I used to create little paper badges and pin them on my shirt,” Benavidez said. “I’d ride around on my bicycle, which had a siren, and pretend to pull over my stuffed animals.”
Benavidez’s brother-in-law, who was a police officer in West LA, would refer him to the local police explorer program in Sheraton, Colorado when he was 16 years old.
Following his high school graduation, Benavidez would be hired as a police and fire dispatcher in Sheraton.
After graduating from the police academy in 1996, Benavidez became a police officer in Aurora, Colorado.
With budget difficulties forcing layoffs, Benavidez would see an opportunity to advance his career by moving to Southern California, where his sister and brother-in-law resided.
After moving to California from Colorado, Benavidez started at CSUN as a parking enforcement officer before being hired as a police officer.
He was promoted to detective corporal in 2006 and to detective sergeant in 2009, where he headed the threat assessment unit.
While the promotion has been an adjustment for officers as they have an additional voice to follow, the transition has been an adjustment as well for Benavidez, who went from working as the lone detective for his unit during the daytime to supervising personnel at night.
“The difference is that now I oversee personnel and my job is to provide the support to the personnel to ensure that they are doing the best job they can,” Benavidez said.