By Michael Rothberg
At 19, only a year older than many of the seniors, Jim Crawford began working as a security officer at Harvard School. Crawford, now Director of Security, has operated security for both campuses of Harvard-Westlake since 1980.
When he turned 20, Crawford joined the Los Angeles Police Academy, working at the school to earn extra money.
In the police force, Crawford worked the night shift from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. as a patrol in South Central division of the LAPD.
“When I was younger, chasing [criminals] on foot and in cars was fun, but now that I am 50, it is not what I want to do anymore,” Crawford said.
He became a homicide detective in Rampart, where he investigated arrests made by patrol officers involving gang homicides as part of the City Resources Against Street Hoodlums program.
“I did not quite know the stuff that went on — shootings and the family issues, crimes against women and children. I have seen just about everything,” Crawford said.
After about 20 years, Crawford moved to the San Fernando Valley, where he handled robberies, burglaries and juvenile crimes. While in the LAPD, Crawford continued to run security at the school and experienced its change over the years.
In 1980 the campus didn’t have cameras, alarms or fences. Security was doing about $5,000 worth of work a year, which is comparatively less than what they do now, Crawford said.
Harvard-Westlake improved security in response to computer thefts and rising crime rates around the school, eventually installing gates, alarms and cameras along with a fence around the campus perimeter.
To help organize the security program, Crawford founded CJL, a company that provides security and transportation for Harvard-Westlake as well as other private schools. The security staff has expanded from two to 53 employees, all of whom have experience in law enforcement as sheriff’s deputies or police officers.
“Pretty much all the aspects of the investigations that are done in the school are conducted by my company, so we do workers compensaion investigations on employees that get hurt. It is a pretty wide range,” Crawford said.
The security program focuses on preparedness for emergencies and terrorism by adding supplies to bunkers and expanding school wide drills.
“Now we’re gearing up for more serious incidents,” Crawford said.