October 18, 2011

Get to Know School Resource Officer Steve Pendleton

We sat down with School Resource Officer Steve Pendleton to learn a little more about him (and what it's like to hang out with students all day!). Some of you may remember Officer Pendleton during his first stint with the department in the 1990s - we were quite excited to get him back again last year after he worked over the hill outside of law enforcement. Let's get to know him better!

What are your favorite restaurants in Santa Cruz?  
Officer Pendleton: For Mexican food it's Taqueria Los Pericos, for sandwiches its Joe’s Pizza and Subs, and for Chinese food it’s Yan Flower.  All of these places make good food fast and at the right price.  What I'm still searching for is an excellent Vietnamese restaurant so I can get my weekly fix of Pho.

What five songs are you listening to on your iPod right now?   

Officer Pendleton: Right Now by Van Halen, Heavy Metal by Sammy Hagar, Tom Sawyer by Rush, It can Happen by Yes, and Forever by Y&T.  I’m stuck in the 80’s rocker years! 

When you're not hanging out with teenagers at our local high schools, what TV shows or movies are you watching? 

Officer Pendleton: I love comedies like The Other Guys, or Tommy Boy, and of course the Abbot and Costello movies were always a good time.

What is the most memorable case you've worked?     

Officer Pendleton: I really do not have a favorite case; we work so many cases I just keep moving on to the next case.  Even so, one recent case was rewarding and worth mentioning. 

A local church operates a school for autistic adults assisting them to adjust to self-sufficiency. A teacher noticed a subject walking back and forth in front of one of the classrooms.  He noticed this subject had just stolen two iPads used to assist in instructing students.  The teacher contacted this subject and recovered these items.  The teacher then noticed a student’s iPhone was missing for the same room the iPads were stolen.  Two other school staff members then assisted by logging on to “Find My iPhone” app they had loaded on the phone.  The located the phone just a few blocks away and notified Police.  Officer Aguilar responded and contacted the suspect.  I took the teacher over and he made a positive ID of the suspect. 

This suspect had other stolen property on him along with several hypodermic needles.   This suspect was arrested for burglary and possession of drug paraphernalia.   I outline this case because it was solved by fast and effective actions by school staff.  We take many theft reports without much suspect information but this case was different.  School staff preplanned for such an event and took fast and appropriate action that led to the arrest of one of many drug addicted subjects who commit crimes to support their drug habit.  School staff actions made it possible to return the student’s iPhone in addition to holding this suspect accountable for his actions.     

We've heard you are a car guy. So is it a Ford, Chevy, or Toyota in your garage?    

Officer Pendleton: Funny you should ask such a question with such brands, I’ve owned them all.   My first cool car was a 71 Camaro I painted Hugger Orange with White stripes in my dad’s garage. My dad was so stoked at that… Not!  Then I went to a 69 SS/RS convertible Camaro, a 70 Mach 1 Mustang and a 68 427 Corvette.  Then I bought an 83 Toyota 4x4 and drove it through the Rubicon Tahoe Jeep Trail.    They all had their pro and cons.  Oh yes, and a wallet full of repair bills.

Now that we know everything about the "present you" - how about the "past you?"

Officer Pendleton:  I started to work it Santa Cruz Police Department in 1994 after seven years in construction, five years as a reserve for the San Mateo Sheriff’s Department Scuba Dive Rescue Team, and one year as a reserve for the Campbell Police Department.  I worked five years for SCPD of which two years I worked in the traffic division riding a motorcycle.  I left SCPD in 1999 and went to work for the city of Morgan Hill's Housing Department.  During this time I also worked as a volunteer firefighter for the Santa Clara County Fire Department and return to school at the University of San Francisco where I obtained my bachelor’s degree in sociology.  After eight years with the city of Morgan Hill I left and went to the city of San José's Housing Department where I was a supervisor for the Housing Rehabilitation programs.  Then after eleven years of absence I returned back to the Police Department in July of 2010 and I now work as the school resource officer for all Santa Cruz city schools.

Last question... name something the public doesn't know about our department you think they would find interesting.

Officer Pendleton: I would suspect many people have not been exposed to the extensive hiring process of a police department.   It generally starts with a written exam followed by a physical agility performance test.  Then there is an oral board interview which scores the candidates. At this point I have seen processes for police departments go from over 500+ applicants down to less than thirty to move on to the background phase.   The background process uses both a polygraph examination and a detailed screening process into the candidate’s personal and professional history.   This process eliminates many if not most of the remaining candidates.  There is then an in-depth physical examination to determine if the candidate is able to perform the physical duties as needed by a police officer.  Once the candidate gets past all of this, they hopefully move on to the Chief’s interview.  This entire process can take anywhere from four months to one year to complete and even then there's no guarantee of being hired!