Normal Street UPD Detective, Eric Partika
He’s a detective with the University Police Department, and he loves his job. He’s the one (along with two other detectives) who follows up after uniformed officers have responded to felony assaults, attempted rape, and drunk and disorderly calls. His main tool, in addition, of course, to his deductive reasoning, his pleasant demeanor, and evidence kit, is his computer. He is skilled in computer forensics.
It’s a long way from Sherlock’s Baker Street and a not-so-long way from his work as a patrolman with the Calaveras City Sheriff’s Department. The scale of a university campus and its student population enables him to feel like he is making a difference and not just “banging his head against the wall with repeat offenders and other challenges of law enforcement in the public sector.”
Partika has a BA in Mexican American studies and counseling from Sonoma State (’97) and spent two years doing grant work counseling gang members as a resource to schools. He found the work interesting, and it put him in contact with public law enforcement. He decided to attend the Police Academy in Napa, and after that worked in Calaveras.
Partika and his wife were drawn to Chico because of her extended family, who live in the area, and because the idea of working at a university was appealing.
Partika is on the campus security response team and works with User Services every time there is a breach of security in the campus network system. He follows up when there is indication of a crime committed with a computer on campus, from I.D. theft to child contraband to threats of violence to hacking. He traced one suspect, involving a threat of arson, to a library computer.
Partika and the two other detectives alleviate the pressure on patrol officers, receiving cases from them after they’ve done the initial responses and, if necessary, arrests. As in the public sector, crimes on campus and crimes involving students must be followed up. Campus police gather evidence, explore all the elements of a crime, and, if they are fortunate, “wrap it up in a nice package.” Their job is to tie up lose ends and to get convictions.
How much detective work is there on campus? Partika says that at any given time he and the other detectives have about six cases. They work with other agencies as necessary, including the Chico Police Department, the county sheriff, and, in some cases, the FBI.
Partika is genuinely committed to the task of the UPD: ensuring the safety of the campus community. He exudes a confidence about the importance of the work they do and an excitement about being part of it.