Implementing safety

The country’s youth are walking out, marching and standing up for their lives after the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Locally, students at Pierce participated in the National Walkout on March 14. It included a march down the Mall to protest gun violence a week after Pierce had a credible threat of a possible shooter on March 7.

Once Pierce College was informed of the perceived threat, administration decided to immediately evacuate the campus.

Vice President of Administrative Services Rolf Schleicher said that security cameras would be a beneficial addition to campus security.

“If there is a threat on campus, the ability to get Intel and to address the threat and subdue that threat quickly is even more important than how you evacuate,” Schleicher said.

During the Pierce College Council meeting on Thursday, March 22, college President Kathleen Burke said that it wasn’t a “wait and see situation.”

Burke wrote in an email that emergency preparedness is an ongoing series of decisions and/or recommendations made by herself and forwarded to the appropriate location.

There has been a plan to install security cameras throughout the campus that goes back a number of years,” Burke wrote. “We are waiting for the building program oversight at the District to execute that plan. Other emergency preparedness activities are handled strictly on campus, such as the decision to place regular and ongoing emergency training in the Office of Professional Excellence.”

Burke wrote that the incident was not related to tensions on the campus.

“To the best of our knowledge, the threat was not made by a student and not tied to any particular ‘political climate’ or ‘ideology,’” Burke wrote.

While the campus evacuated, a traffic jam formed, causing major concerns about the quickness of future evacuations.

According to the PCC, the Los Angeles Police Department was not called in and issues with traffic are being accessed in case of future incidents.

“While we could open up additional lanes of traffic to exit the campus, for example the inbound lanes could temporarily be made outbound lanes, there is still only a certain amount of traffic that can be accommodated on the surrounding city streets at any one time,” Burke wrote in an email.

The California Highway Patrol said that in case of a future emergency, they should be contacted for evacuation assistance.

The Sheriff’s Department is not staffed for emergency evacuation. There are not enough people, officials reported at the meeting.

The sheriff’s deputies police all nine schools in the district and a certain amount of officers are assigned per school.

Captain of the Community College Bureau Rodrick Armalin said that he thinks the bureau is a well-prepared agency to deal with situations like an active shooter. He said there are multiple training sessions per year.

“We do a large-scale active-shooter training at two campuses a year,” Armalin said. “It takes so much to put on a large-scale training scenario because we like to include other local law enforcement agencies, the fire department, and other entities.”

Since the incident at Parkland and after the threat to Pierce College, one emergency plan was created for the district.

“We have pretty thorough procedures,” Schleicher said. “We are the best in the district, we were recently affirmed on that.”

Armalin said with the various ways to exit, the main concern is safety and ensuring that all students, faculty and staff get off campus without getting hurt. He said his officers want and need to do their job.

“If there is a threat on campus, I can assure you that my officers are running to that threat,” Armalin said.

According to the meeting notes, District Safety Manager William Ramirez said that under Measure CC, there is a plan to address campus safety issues.

“Public address system…telephone in all rooms, camera, etc. Big picture as a district, $180 million is amount being discussed,” the agenda notes stated.

A proposed solution discussed at the meeting is to speak with LAPD about monitoring the perimeter of the school and allowing the deputies on campus to continue patrol within.

The agenda notes also stated that Fernando Oleas, the department chair of modern language said that union grievance is in place to change all locks on campus.

“We have a commitment from the chancellor of the district to have this completed within a year. Locks will be automatic in the future,” the document stated.

Armalin said the best way for the sheriff’s to do their jobs is for them to work with the campus community.

“My officers understand that anyone on this campus can approach them,” Armalin said. “My hope is that relationships develop between my officers, the students and the staff to where they can get to a first-name basis because that’s when you’re really a part of the community.”