Campus officials respond to concerns at safety forum

Campus officials held a public forum to address concerns from students, faculty and staff over campus safety after a recent string of violent crimes on campus.

The forum, which took place on Oct. 30 in the L-111 building, featured Vice President of Administration Cory Wathen, Los Rios Police Chief Cheryl Sears and Los Rios Police Captain Christopher Day and Faculty Union President Jason Newman.

There were over 20 professors and counselors in attendance to express concerns over their safety, the safety of their students and problems they have experienced in the past.

Professors asked if there had been an increase of crime recently and Sears told the forum that while crime statistics have risen, it is still really low for the area.

She encouraged anyone curious about the amount and variety of crimes taking place on campus to go to the LRPD website, where they can find real time crime logs, showing every reported crime on campus.

Before the forum, Day spoke to how the LRPD plans to increase campus safety and lower the crime rate. He said their plans are to have a, “high visibility with the officers, being out and proactive, talking to staff and to the students.”

“It’s important when something like this happens, we are contacted immediately,“ Day said.

There are also plans being made to have some officers patrol the campus on bikes to increase their visibility..

A major theme of discussion during the forum was that many students were completely unaware of the gun brandishing and sexual assault that took place on campus in the last two weeks.

Biology Professor Harriette Carr surveyed her students in class on Oct. 29 and found that “more than two-thirds of my class did not get the bulletin; they never received them.”

Carr was asked to clarify on whether the students just didn’t check their Gmail account or if they actually didn’t receive the bulletin. Carr said she specifically asked her students and was told they did not receive the email at all.

Wathen said they will look into how the crime bulletins are distributed and evaluate different alternatives. The current system in place is that the crime bulletins are emailed to students’ CRC Gmail accounts and three bulletins are posted across the main kiosks of the campus.

Discussions are still ongoing for how to fix the problem but on Monday, CRC President Edward Bush emphasized the need for clear, easy communication. “We want to make sure students are communicated with [other than email],” Bush said.

Concerns were also raised by professors about slow or even absent response times from campus police. Multiple professors spoke to experiences of calling the Los Rios PD dispatcher and not ever hearing back from a dispatched officer.

Those concerns were met by information from Sears and Day that often times, en route to the classroom or building where the incident took place, an officer may have encountered the suspect and arrested them, which ended the situation and led to officers not contacting the staff who reported it.

Communication is something Sears and Day put an emphasis on during the forum. Day told professors to keep track of when they call and who the dispatcher is. If they take that precaution and then encounter a problem, it will make it easier for Day to find the specific incident and respond to it.

Sears also added that dispatchers should keep the caller informed if campus police encounter delays before responding to the call. Day emphasized the need to respond to calls in a timely manner and that if someone feels they did not get a proper response, to contact him.

Many professors with night classes had concerns over the lack of visibility of officers around campus at night, when they believe more criminal acts are likely to occur.

Sears said CRC currently has three full-time sworn officers on day shift and two campus patrol officers who enforce parking violations. On swing shift they have two full officers and parking enforcement. Sears mentioned that CRC is also a training campus, which means there will be two officers together.

Day and Sears indicated that the number of sworn officers on duty correlates to the number of students on campus, which is why there are fewer officers on campus at night. Police encourage students to walk together and report anything they see. If students feel unsafe, police escorts are also available.

Bush understood concerns many people around campus have and said, “the campus of CRC as a whole is going to do what it needs to provide a safe environment for our students and staff.”

Another safety forum will be held on Nov. 12 in the L-111 building, where officials encourage students to come and provide input and ideas to improve campus safety.