Staff Spotlight: Officer Ray Esparza
University of the Pacific is a beautiful campus full of bright and hardworking people. In this installment of The Pacifican’s Staff Spotlight series, we spoke to one of the people who helps protect everything we love about the University, Pacific Police Officer Ray Esparza.
Officer Esparza is no stranger to fighting crime and serving his community. After a three year stint in the U.S. Army, Officer Esparza spent 26 years with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department. In 2015, he joined Pacific’s Police Department, where he learned a “new kind of law enforcement.”
“It’s not what I knew at the Sheriff’s Office. It’s mostly about protecting the people on campus, not going out and chasing bad guys like I used to,” Esparza said. “You have to have a different mindset. It’s about helping the campus community, not necessarily looking for bad stuff all the time.”
Esparza has adapted quickly during his two years on campus. Along with his regular rounds across the campus, he is currently assigned the buildings in the South Quad for his officer liaison. Esparza walks through Jessie Ballantyne, Casa Jackson, Wemyss, and Ritter, where he answers questions and makes sure those who are in the buildings are supposed to be there.
Esparza said he most often responds to reports of suspicious persons on campus.
“A lot of times people are just cutting through campus. Other times, it’s people looking for a target of opportunity,” he said. “Pacific students are just like any other people; they leave stuff lying around, or they leave their backpacks in their cars. So we try to shoo those suspicious people off campus.”
He also regularly conducts traffic enforcement, and his weekends usually consist of breaking up parties, as one might expect.
“Pacific students like to be college students and have fun. They have parties, and the neighbors get upset because, well, they’re college students,” Esparza said. “So we have to go break those up. It’s usually not a big deal; they’re good kids.”
When Esparza is not on the job, he loves spending time with his two children, who both play sports. He enjoys attending their practices and games. He also enjoys doing housework, like mowing the lawn and cooking.
When asked what advice he had for those who have interactions with police, Esparza said, “You will get out of it what you put into it.”
“If you are respectful, we will be respectful. We are not there to harass you,” he explained. “We are trying to provide money for our families… If we stop you, it is just because it’s part of our job.”