Campus cadets distracted on the job

CN/ Justin Quebral

By Jesus Figueroa

East Los Angeles College’s campus cadets are supposed to help sheriffs, but fall short of doing their jobs because of their distractions.

As student workers, should cadets be paid for doing their homework or having conversations with friends?

As students pass info booths they can see cadets doing their homework, talking with fellow cadets, goofing off with students or having conversations with friends who sit down by the booth to talk sports or other topics.

Communication Officer Alejandro Guzman said that cadets aren’t supposed to be held to the same standards as sheriff’s deputies are because they do not have the same experience. Cadets are student workers who are training to be in law enforcement.

Cadets are in charge of simple tasks such as answering phones, dispatching cadets and deputies, opening locked classrooms and attending the information booths around campus.

Sheriff deputy Alberto Romero said there are 24 cadets, at the moment, on campus with 13 more to be added by the end of the semester, although he also said there is more need for cadets at the beginning of the semester.

“Their main roles are to help out students, by transporting disabled students, opening doors, providing information for students and being our (the sheriff’s department) eyes and ears, like any other faculty or staff.”Romero said.

With 24 cadets on staff, it is surprising to have seen the main information booth at the administration building left unattended for more than 15 minutes midday, during what is one of the heaviest student traffic times.

“It might have been while shifts are being switched,” Romero said.

Shift changes during heavy student traffic can potentially lead to longer response times to incidents.

“The response times should be only a few minutes, two-to-three minutes,” Romero said.

Some wait times for rooms to be opened can be as long as 30 minutes.

Journalism professor Jean Stapleton waited for cadets to open the door to her office for more than an hour, but what was most alarming was that when the sheriff station was called, the cadet put her on hold before finding out what the problem was.

“They didn’t even ask what the problem was before putting me on hold,” Stapleton said.

Romero said that cadets are trained to answer the phones and dispatch personnel to handle any situation.

If a cadet puts anyone on hold, it is because they are busy with an urgent situation.

On one of the hottest days, Campus News ad manager Stefanie Arocha spent 45 minutes stuck in the stairwell of the E-7 Technology Building.

“What upset me the most was that the cadet who took my call was taking the situation very lightly and kind of making fun of it,” Arocha said.

While she waited for the cadets to open the door, she went up and down the stairwell banging on the doors, trying to get anyone’s attention.

She was finally let out by a student that heard her pounding on the door.

“My concern is, what if it was an elderly person? Luckily, I have the sheriffs number, because I call them to open the door often, but elderly people could have had a serious problem,” Arocha said.

Two semesters ago, a rough situation at the writing center occurred where attendants were unable to report due to phones being in plain view of the hostile person.

It was made worse by the response time being more than 15 minutes.

Due to the situation, a panic button was installed for any future problems.

“It all has to do with budget. We would love to have panic buttons and cameras, but it all has to be worked into the budget,” Romero said.

There are three main prerequisites that Romero said need to be met before applying to be a cadet — be 18 years old or older, have a driver’s license and be a full-time student.

After the application process and background check, cadets go through  a one week training.

“Once hired we have an academy. It’s a one-week academy here on campus where we go over scenarios and we inform cadets of their roles,” Romero said.

“I think we are one of the only campuses that are doing that. I think that our cadets are trained very well. We have very good cadets.”

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