By Annette Quijada
East Los Angeles College students and staff voice concerns and expectations for campus safety and security with Hillard Heintze, a law enforcement consulting company.
Hillard Heintze has been hired by the Los Angeles Community College District to make a security assessment of each campus.
Heintz Chief Diversity and inclusion officer Marcia K. Thompson, gave students and staff six primary questions to answer during the meeting. The questions were as follows:
•What are your thoughts about the current safety and security of the campus that you attend or work at?
•What types of interactions have you had on campus regarding campus safety?
•What makes you feel safe/unsafe on campus?
•Describe the type of security or personnel you would like or invision to be the ideal safety environment for your campus?
•What kind of characteristics would you like for safety personnel?
A common theme between students’ answers steered toward lack of community policing.
Recent ELAC graduate Carlos Diaz said, “(In my time on campus) I would constantly see them (security officers) not engaging with other students and not taking their work seriously. I never felt protected because they were not as engaging with students or staff members.”
Officers need to work on being more approachable and trustworthy, and this would help students and staff feel safer, Diaz said.
Students and staff also requested more on foot patrolling. With classes ending at 10 p.m. a lot of students want more safety in the parking garages. ELAC Writing Center staff member Diego Gonzalez worries for the safety of the women he works with when they close up late. Gonzalez said he would like to see an increase of patrolling in those areas especially during the night.
South Gate Campus staff member Jessica Landon interacts with campus officers on a weekly basis and has not felt satisfied with their work for several months.
“We’ve approached their supervising staff about improving the quality of service we receive from (officers), and they haven’t been responsive or improved. We are just asking for them to patrol the entire site instead of being posted out in the front of the college in their vehicles, when most activity occurs towards the back,” said Landon.
Students also expressed their vision for future security personnel to have specific training such as deescalation.
Diaz said, “(We need) officers who are trained to not rely on their weapons, guns primarily. In recent events we’ve seen police officers pick up their guns and use that as their first resort when it was preventable.”
Gonzalez suggested having specific “monitors” or others who are highly trained to approach certain situations. “At this point most of us don’t feel comfortable dealing with police. We feel more insecure and unsafe when we have to approach them, so we should implement different positions for others to be trained in,” Gonzalez said.
ELAC presidentAlberto Román said, “(We) need to move away from this constant patrolling objective to a more engaging within our campus community. I think we have to change the way we see law enforcement on campus.”
Román entertained ideas to have personnel come into classrooms and talk to students as well as having them participate in school events to get them involved with the community.
Students and staff who have more questions referring to improvements to campus safety and security can reach out to Marcia Thompson by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.