Recent crimes cause campus safety concern

Justine Schulz

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The lack of officers on campus has raised concerns from the Math Department faculty due to the recent crimes on campus.

“I feel like they’re understaffed,” Carolyn Thomas of the Mathematics Department said. “I think there’s only so much the 34 officers can do. We have a huge district: Miramar, Mesa, here, Continuing Education. They’re on different shifts so it’s not like all 34 of them are working at the same time.”

According to Lt. Louis Zizzo, Southern Command of the San Diego Community College District Police Department, one sergeant, one to three officers, and two college service officers are assigned to the day shift which is during 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. while one sergeant, four officers, and two college service officers are assigned to the evening shift during 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.

However, these numbers vary due to circumstances such as trainings, injuries, vacation leave, and/or illnesses.

San Diego City College is an open campus in the midst of busy intersections and campus activity is quite abundant. From the homeless community and residents from nearby apartment and condominium buildings, down to high school skaters and loiterers, it is unavoidable for police officers to receive reports of suspicious activities, usually caused by non-students, especially around the campus library.

From the beginning of the fall semester, Aug. 24, there have reportedly been 16 crimes that occurred on campus. Four personal crimes were reported: a harassing phone call, stalking, battery, and robbery. While 12 property crimes were reported; two vandalisms, three burglaries, six petty thefts, and a hit and run collision.

Zizzo believes that community policing plays an important role in the challenging task of covering all areas on campus. “We constantly remind everyone that we can’t be everywhere,” said Zizzo. “(I think it’s) super important for us to maintain a close relationship with our community.”

Although community policing is a proactive approach as a preventive measure that allows police officers to become familiar with the community, and is an effective way to reduce on-campus crime, it may also involve concerns.

“I would also be leery that we ask the community to also do those things because people’s own biases come into play when that happens so that people only see certain folks as being potentially violent and so then there’s potentials for racism especially embedded in that that I would be concerned about,” professor Sarah Pitcher of the Department of Sociology/Behavioral Sciences said.

“So I think that it’s important to be mindful of the community we’re in but we also need to be aware of also how our own biases come into play and so that would link to stuff that the campus could do,” Pitcher continued. “Have workshops for students and faculty on how to be better at addressing such concerns so to be aware and mindful of our own biases coming into play. “

Another main concern for the faculty is the slow response time. According to faculty and their students, police officers did not arrive at the scene until 15 to 20 minutes after emergency calls have been made, or during requests for a safety escort on campus.

“The process oftentimes that we’re required to go through, which is important, denies us a speedy result,” Pitcher said. “We’re having multiple levels to go through and it can take time and in a crisis moment, time is not what we have.”

The police department have lost staff members over the years to departments with better retirement systems, and are also concerned about the district hiring more officers to better manage campus concerns. Most importantly, the increase in staff would allow better campus coverage, and a faster response time.

Safety escort services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling (619) 388-6405. Report emergencies, suspicious activities, and/or crimes which have occurred on or near campus by calling (619) 388-6405 or the San Diego Police Department at (619)-531-2000.

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