Policies need to change when crimes go underreported

Many Pierce students may face fears while in the classroom such as social anxiety, performance anxiety and uncertain employment, campus safety should be their biggest concern — and Pierce College’s top priority.

There have been three assaults within 100 yards of the Pierce College Sheriff’s Station within the last six months – two of them involved physical violence on a faculty member.

Seven months ago, a disgruntled boyfriend confronted his girlfriend during class in the Village. The instructor and assailant got into a physical fight. Later, Tyshaun Middleton kicked out the back passenger side window of a sheriff’s cruiser.

One month ago, a female faculty member was punched in the face in parking Lot 1 during an exchange of words with a student over a parking issue.

Three weeks ago, another assault took place in the Village. The parolee followed students into class, acted erratically, then made threatening statements and saying his intention was to take over the class.

If you are surprised to hear about this now, it’s because the flow of campus crime information essentially came to a halt last semester.

The Jeanne Clery Act compels campus safety officials to provide an annual report of crimes on school grounds covering three years, a daily log of all campus crime made public within two days and immediate notice of any immediate threat to health or safety.

Yet, when the Roundup attempted to report on each of the three assaults, it faced steep resistance from both school and campus sheriff authorities, posing a risk to others on campus.

Described as a half-breach of law enforcement etiquette by Los Angeles County Sheriff College Bureau Lt. Rod Armalin, the campus sheriff’s station should not direct inquiries about campus crime to school administrators.

Rather, Lt. Armalin says, inquires of a minor nature should be answered by the campus sheriff’s department and information on major campus crime events will be handled by the College Bureau.

However, neither of these recommendations bears consistent news fruit.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Media Guide on the its website states clearly that deputies are not to isolate or prohibit media activities like photography, video or interviews or deny access over safety concerns.

The Roundup called a meeting with media arts advisers, sheriff officials and school administrators to solve this campus safety reporting obstacle.

The Roundup seeks to clarify the flow of information from law enforcement concerning crime activity on campus.

The Roundup does not feel it is appropriate to obtain crime information from school administrators because such information may be slanted or withheld to protect school image.

The Roundup will write the rules of engagement into the Roundup Policy Manual to remove any sense of ambiguity from the practice of reporting campus crime news.

Pierce College students and faculty, their friends, family and neighbors deserve to have the timely truth about campus crime. The Roundup shall deliver it.