Meet Eastern’s new police chief Gamboa

Marisol+Gamboa%2C+a+candidate+for+the+university+police%2C+answers+questions+from+students+inside+the+Paris+room+of+Martin+Luther+King+Jr.+University+Union.+

Ashanti Thomas

Marisol Gamboa, a candidate for the university police, answers questions from students inside the Paris room of Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Luke Taylor, News Editor

Marisol Gamboa, who will be Eastern’s police chief beginning in Spring 2022, says she hopes to improve relationships between students and law enforcement during her time in the position.

Gamboa is leaving her position as an administrative lieutenant in San Jacinto College’s campus police department.

On Oct. 24, Gamboa visited Eastern’s campus for an open interview session with students.

She said that during that session, she heard similar questions or concerns repeated several times.

“The questions were focused around building trust and confidence with the community, and hiring and retention of police officers,” Gamboa said. “So, I plan to instill confidence, trust and respect between the police and university community and hire and retain top quality law enforcement officers.”

Gamboa said that her plan for improving those relationships would involve creating more open channels of communication with students and allowing them to share their experiences and ideas with members of law enforcement.

During her open interview session, Gamboa said she would suggest programs inspired by some at San Jacinto College which encouraged students and officers to form personal relationships on some level.

“I possess a service mentality, meaning my focus is on safety, security, community policing and serving the university community with quality law enforcement services,” Gamboa said.

Gamboa said that she served as a full-time peace officer for 20 years, with her past eight years focused exclusively on policing in the higher education environment.

While she was working in law enforcement, Gamboa completed her associate degree, as well as her bachelor’s degree, which she finished in May 2021. She is now pursuing a masters degree in clinical mental health counseling.

“I want students to know, I am honored and grateful for the opportunity,” Gamboa said. “I am passionate about law enforcement and focused on serving the university community. I would like for UPD to leave a positive image of law enforcement in our students.”

During Gamboa’s open session, students raised concerns about relationships between students and officers and the lack of diversity in the police department.

Gamboa said that she would not purposely hire people for their skin color or gender, but that she did want to mirror the community and would diversify the department by reaching out to more places to hire officers.

“It just can’t be at one location, you have to kind of spread it around in different communities everywhere. When they start applying, you have to follow certain criteria as far as that their integrity, their commitment to serve the community and how responsible are they,” Gamboa said. “Your department will start getting diversified.”

Gamboa is taking the position over after Kent Martin, the previous chief of university police, decided to step down.

Martin had been a member of the university police department since 1997 and had been chief since 2016 until he stepped down in 2021.

Ryan Risinger, another officer in the university police department, served as interim chief while the search and interview process went on.

Martin is now seeking the Republican nomination for Coles County Sheriff in the election which will take place in 2022.

 

Luke Taylor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]