By EMMALEE C. TORISK
Sgt. Drew Rauzan is well aware that his appointment as interim chief of the Campbell Police Department is temporary, and also that the host of changes to the department he’s implemented in the past month and a half could be just as fleeting.
Next week, Rauzan, along with two other department sergeants, will take the civil-service exam that determines the permanent replacement for former Chief Gus Sarigianopoulos, who retired after 27 years with the department.
Since his takeover in late June, though, Rauzan, a 15-year department veteran, has shaken things up — he’s abandoned rigid scheduling procedures, launched several drug-interdiction teams and a decoy patrol-car program, and decked out cruisers with the Superman shield, among other initiatives.
All of it has been done with the best interests of both the depart- ment and the city in mind, Rauzan said.
“Those principals have guided every single program we’ve done for the past month,” he said. “I’ve completely made peace with the concept that a different police chief could stop every single thing I’ve done. ... I hope we’re able to continue to move forward.”
His biggest victory so far, he added, is allowing his officers to “choose their own destiny” — and perhaps a more favorable one — by way of their schedules. All he mandates is that a minimum of three officers be working at any given time, and also that each officer be productive during his weekly 40 hours, however they’re scheduled.
What Rauzan has found is that more-flexible scheduling, which includes putting himself into “the patrol mix” and staffing more officers at higher-volume times, has significantly upped the amount of arrests, citations and patrol miles. It’s also decreased the number of departmental call-offs, as well as the use of sick time, he said.
“My whole focus is to put our officers out there on the streets to make them more visible to the public and to make them more active,” Rauzan said. “We want to make folks that are engaging in criminal behavior feel uncomfortable in Campbell.”
That’s his hope with the drug-interdiction teams, too, which are led by Sgt. John Rusnak, another contender for the chief’s post. Sgt. David Taybus, who acted as interim chief from December until Rauzan’s appointment, is the third candidate.
Both Rauzan and Rusnak said the city hasn’t had a program that focuses solely on drug trafficking in many years. A separate program is necessary, Rusnak said, because it allows officers to concentrate on drug-related issues, “without having to worry about taking calls.”
He added that the program, which will consist of five- or six-person teams, is a great way “to keep the streets safe.”
“Campbell is a small-town city with big-town problems,” Rusnak said. “This is the perfect way of combating those problems.”
To maybe a lesser extent, so is the decoy patrol-car program, Rauzan said. This program simply involves the positioning of one of the department’s five patrol cars in a neighborhood that needs traffic coverage but might not frequently receive it.
Not only do the decoy cars slow down drivers, but they also take “the wear and tear and mileage” off the department’s fleet, since the cars “take turns” acting as decoys, Rauzan said. He added that the department is excitedly anticipating the arrival of a police-officer mannequin for the decoy car.
“The program makes people feel safe,” he said. “We’re just trying to reinforce that the police department is here to serve the people of the city in any creative way that we can.”
Likewise, putting service above self is precisely what the department’s officers do, which makes the Superman shield an appropriate decoration for their cruisers, Rauzan said. No other symbol, he said, so perfectly represents police officers, who never waver in their dedication to helping others.
Overall, Mayor William VanSuch said he’s been pleased with the past few months of changes within the police department, adding that they are “working out very well.”
Some of the improvements he’s noticed include officers who are more enthusiastic, along with better teamwork and cooperation among them and in the department itself.