Security keeps watch on campus in Covid-19 times

Theresa DeAmicis
Ka La staff writer

For Honolulu Community College Campus Security Officer Lasi Sooalo nothing has been the same since the school and community went into COVID-19 lockdown. Sooalo was thrown through the ringer when the first changes started to be made.

“I come in and barely anyone is here. I can count on my two hands. For people on the outside they think my job is easier, now that I do not have to lock down buildings, but it is not. I work in Kalihi,” she said.

“There are a lot of homeless here. Especially, since A’ala Park was closed. They all live on the sidewalk across from the school. Sometimes it is just me driving back and forth trying to catch all the people trying to walk on campus. It is hard.”


The campus is mostly empty by security still has a full-time job to do.

Sooalo, 40, was born in American Samoa and has been working for the state of Hawaii for two years. He has been married to his wife for 10 years and they have two children together. Sooalo hopes to continue to work and retire from the state and Honolulu Community College.

Campus Security is a big part of what makes a school function. It began with small changes for Honolulu Community College Campus Security. First, it was no classes were to be held on campus, eventually no meetings or groups of ten or more were to gather, then came “No Public Access.” These changes were made in collaboration with the university president’s orders.

Asked how he feels about the stay-at-home quarantine and him being considered an essential employee, he sait:  “I am happy I still have a job and money coming in to support my family but I am scared all the time. When this started, we were not practicing some of the stricter policies we have now like 6-foot rule, mask on always, or even businesses that are closed. I also have relatives that live with me that work as essential workers and we all could be exposed and bring it home. I try my best to follow the rules, so I do not infect myself or my family, but the truth is anyone could get it or have it.”

Campus Security across all University Of Hawaii colleges have a standard operations procedure in place which includes disaster preparedness and evacuation protocols. They generally run like any other security department which helps provide safety and security for campus personnel. They work alongside faculty and staff members to provide a safe and comfortable campus environment for students.

Honolulu Community College has a total of seven Campus Security Officers including the Supervisor, Lionel Spencer. They run a 24-hour operation with two guards per shift three days a week. Four days a week the security team runs one guard per shift. To become a Campus Security Officer, you must have the minimum qualifications which includes a valid Driver’s License, High School Diploma/GED, and a State of Hawaii Guards Card. The guard’s card is not only the minimum requirement for Campus Security Officers but also any person in the State of Hawaii that is working security.

The more stringent qualifications to become a Campus Security Officer is security experience, passong a four-person panel interview, which includes proficiency in report writing and a mock scenario. Once you pass the first interview if you are selected you are interviewed by an administrative member usually either the Campus Security Manager or the Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services who oversees the security department.

Honolulu Community College Security Manager John Schell is happy with the way his department has responded to the changes and comments:

“The transition from regular normal job duties to special duty requests for my security officers was smooth,” he said. “I never doubted their abilities to adapt and they have done nothing but exceeds my expectation. As we are a 24-hour operation, they all have stepped up to the plate and taken initiative in these trying times by coming to work every day and ensuring that campus and campus personnel are safe and secure.”

Schell has been the Security Manager at Honolulu Community College since February of 2018. Previously he was a Campus Security Officer at Windward Community College. He is originally from Fossil, Oregon and worked in Oregon Corrections for 21 years before moving to Hawaii with his wife and stepson.

Changes across the State of Hawaii have affected everyone. Honolulu Community College has become deserted, but is still pushing for educational excellence.

The Campus Security are working together with campus departments to ensure that the campus is safe and ready for whenever the schools will open to students and faculty once again. Campus Security is in a sense a first responder. One who is on the front lines helping the community stay safe and aware from the global pandemic. Applauding Campus Security is a must when it comes to the many daily changes that make their work life.




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