By Douglas Esser
Bothell Police Officer Bobby Buendia, the new campus resource officer for the University of Washington Bothell and Cascadia College, began his career in Honolulu where he was born and attended Hawaii Pacific University on a baseball scholarship.
In nine years on the big city police force, he worked in a variety of units, including street crime, gangs, narcotics and undercover investigations.
“Those were my Hawaii-Five-0 days,” Buendia said. In fact, a former partner served as a consultant on the TV show, and Buendia recognized some of their lingo and cases showing up in the plots. “It’s kind of funny,” he said.
Now is what Buendia calls the “giving-back” part of his career where he’s training new officers and working on a college campus.
“I’m not on campus to give everybody tickets,” he said. “I’m out here to make sure they’re all safe.”
Buendia began working as interim campus resource officer in October when Officer Louise Muro, the inaugural campus resource officer, asked for personal reasons to be reassigned to patrol. Buendia’s permanent assignment was effective Jan. 18. He was selected by the Bothell Police Department after a search process that involved interviews with a panel that included representatives from both the Associated Students of the University of Washington Bothell (ASUWB) and Cascadia Student Government (CSG).
“Since he’s already been on campus several months, Officer Buendia is fitting in seamlessly,” said Cham Kao, director of campus safety. “Having a Bothell police officer on campus helps coordinate our response to calls for service quicker. The city cooperation also helps build community relations and promote our shared values of a safe and secure learning environment.”
Buendia carries two radios, one for the Bothell Police Department and one for the campus safety office. If there’s a 911 call from campus, he’ll be the first to respond. He also coordinates with campus safety officers on incidents such as disruptive persons, bike thefts, vehicle damage and traffic.
When Buendia first started on campus, he conducted a "speeding emphasis," using radar and stopping 40 drivers for traveling too fast. But he handed out no speeding tickets, only warnings.
“I want to try and make all my contacts educational ones,” he said. “I enjoy interacting with students.”
Buendia also hopes to improve the perception of law enforcement, especially for anyone with concerns.
“Students can come and talk to me any time they see me on campus. I have time to talk about any question they have about police,” Buendia said. “I know it’s a cliché, but I want to bridge the gap with communication between students and law enforcement.”
Buendia has 28 years of experience in law enforcement, the past 18 with the Bothell Police Department where he has recently worked in training new officers and in community outreach.
On his own time, Buendia coaches a junior high volleyball team at St. Brendan Parish School in Bothell. He says the most rewarding part is having his two daughters and another former player now help coach. Another volunteer activity is playing cards at a home for seniors. It started when a friend moved into the Woodinville home and had a hard time with the transition. Now Buendia socializes weekly with six to eight men and women at the home.
If there’s one more thing Buendia would like to tell students, it’s this: When you cross the street from the south parking garage, try to look at the cars and not your phones. “If they could just take a look before they cross,” Buendia said.
Buendia will be stopping by Cascadia Student Government’s Coffee & Tea with CSG 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 6 in CC1 lower level lobby to meet Cascadia students and answer any questions they may have.
Buendia has joined the regular Donuts and Dialogue events with campus safety officers and the emergency preparedness manager at Food for Thought. Buendia also will be part of a weekly lunchtime table the campus safety office is planning to start in February at the Activities and Recreation Center to share safety tips and respond to student questions.