BY: Erik Luna
East Los Angeles College has taken many precautions to ensure the safety of everyone on campus; hiring 10 new cadets, installing security cameras and a new emergency response plan to handle on-campus threats, yet is this enough?
Two months ago a man walked into the math lab and began threatening student workers.
Even though sheriff deputies arrived at the scene to apprehend the individual, some faculty and students say authorities took too long.
Student worker Stephanie Saldivar was working the desk at the math lab when the incident happened.
According to her, it took multiple calls to get the sheriffs to arrive at the scene.
“I was scared – terrified. He kept reaching for something in his pocket and cussing up a storm,” Saldivar, who is seven months pregnant, said. “I almost had my child – I was so scared.”
This issue was brought to the attention of Deputy Alberto Romero during the first Work Environment Committee meeting of October. Faculty members voiced their concerns about the delay in response and Romero was there to answer any questions they had.
The sheriffs’ on campus need to improve communication within their own station, as well as with administrators, faculty and staff members, who would then relay the information to students.
The addition of the new emergency response plan is a good start, but other measures need to be taken to assure the safety of everyone on campus.
The location of the sheriff’s station is part of the problem. The station is located on the outskirts of Weingart Stadium – right by the Husky Statue.
The location isolates the rest of the school. Even though the sheriffs, as well as the cadets, patrol the campus – it’s not enough.
It’s understandable why the location was chosen, the easy street access that Avalanche Way provides, but is it the best choice?
According to the WEC’s agenda, there are talks of moving the sheriff’s station to the bookstore location – once the new building, which will accommodate the bookstore, is finished. This would provide a greater scope of protection.
The former handicap parking lot could be used for squad cars and electric carts. The sheriffs would also have a better path to other parts of the campus. Going up the hill by the women’s gym, they can get to the math lab, using Floral Drive, within five minutes – as opposed to the 10 minutes they needed two months ago.
Along with the incident at the math lab, two other incidents were reported within two weeks; one at the Theatre Department and the other inside Weingart Stadium – not to mention the threat that was called in last week.
Sheriff’s would have no problem responding to either call in a reasonable time from the bookstore location – Floral Drive and the back entrance to the stadium could be used to respond to the calls.
With the addition of the new cadets, sections of the campus could be divided and assigned to them.
A faculty or staff member, student worker or a student shouldn’t have to wonder where the sheriffs are when they call them during an emergency – especially when someone who walks fairly fast could beat them to the call.