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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Campus representatives discuss current safety measures

The Pierce College Council has discussed possible new safety measures, but with no concrete date set for their implementation, representatives from the administration and campus Sheriff’s Department outlined current safety practices.

A proposed campus PA system was one of several items mentioned at the PCC meeting late last month, and was put forth by Director of Facilities Paul Nieman.

“The PA system requires very little infrastructure, but provides a huge upside when it comes to campus safety,” Nieman said.

Nieman also mentioned the Blackboard Connect mass-notification system, and cited its potential to improve safety.

“Blackboard Connect is a very high priority for our students, faculty, and staff to be aware of,” Nieman said. “It allows everyone to communicate in the event of an emergency situation.”

Both projects mentioned at the meeting may improve campus safety in the future, but Deputy Alfred Guerrero of the Pierce College Sheriff’s Department said he has three steps he recommends everyone follow to ensure safety in the meantime.

“First thing, be aware of your surroundings,” said Guerrero. “Second, don’t get lost in your cell phone while you’re walking with your face down. Third, if you think it’s wrong, if you have that sixth-sense feeling that something is wrong, give us a call and we will check it out.”

Guerrero also said that Pierce has established email and texting systems that send out alerts in the event of an emergency on the campus.

Dean of Student Services David Follosco said his department is up-to-date on code of conduct procedures intended to protect everyone at Pierce.

“We follow board rules,” said Follosco. “Board rules are based on the California Education Code. In fact, if you look at the [Pierce College] website under ‘Conduct on Campus,’ it’s the ‘Standards of Conduct.’ I’m not aware of any changes.”

The Standards of Conduct listed on the Pierce College website provide information about college rules, regulations and protocols. They also address ways to handle everything from theft to assault.

Vice President of Student Services Earic Peters said Pierce also has crisis prevention teams available, should any issues occur on campus. Teams include the Behavioral Intervention Team, the Threat Assessment Team and the Campus Violence Response Team.

“There were so many given incidents that had occurred over the years that we have incorporated different procedures from the state and across the nation,” Peters said.

He added that the individuals in the community are the best line of defense.

Pierce also has a booklet called “Emergency Procedures,” which includes responses to many detailed scenarios. The handbook is constantly reviewed.

“There are three questions I ask people when it comes to what’s going on in our surroundings,” said Peters. “Do you know, do you notice, and do you care?”

Additionally, the emergency procedures page on the Pierce website lists the number for the Sheriff’s Office and other numbers to call in the event of an emergency on campus.

Additional reporting by Harry Bennett.

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