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Red phones to police, not Batman

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By David Morris

By David Morris

Riverside Community College Police Department is maintaining and improving its emergency services throughout the district.Emergency phones are throughout the campus. Two are in Lot Y by the athletic facilities. One is on a light pole, but the other was removed due to construction by the Child Development Center. Others are located in front of the O.W. Noble building by the upper student parking lot, by the Automotive Technology building, on the ground floor of the Digital Library and Resource Center and in 10 elevators. These phones are painted fire engine red with “Emergency” in white on the front. Directly behind the red box is a map of the campus so callers can identify their location. To use the box one must simply press a button. Or one can dial 911 or *81 on the pay phones. The caller will be speaking to someone at RCCD dispatch within seconds. Chief of Police, Lee Wagner agreed to two random tests of the emergency response system. A call was placed in the morning and a second in the late evening as classes let out for the night.In both instances the dispatch center reacted to the call in a professional manner and made an effort to keep the caller calm. In the first instance, two police officers were dispatched to a staged confrontation. Their response time was less than 2 minutes. In the second test the officers arrived in 3 minutes, 30 seconds. When questioned about arriving later, the officers expressed frustration with Saunders Street being a one way thoroughfare. In life-threatening emergencies however, officers will use lights and sirens to oppose traffic. The penalty for raising a false alarm varies with what occurs during the call. If a false alarm is placed and the officers arrive on scene it is a misdemeanor entailing a $1,000 fine or six months to one year in prison. But, if a false alarm occurs and there are any injuries or accidents officers are diverted from a more pressing call, then the caller will be charged with a felony, pay restitutions and could spend one year in prison. “False alarms jeopardize the safety of others,” Wagner said. An escort service is also offered at all three campuses. Emergency phones and all pay-phones on campus can be used to connect to dispatch who will send an officer to escort any individual to any location on campus. In the past five years, only 14 percent of emergency calls were requests for escorts. Since the rape in March 2003, Campus Police hired more sworn officers and Community Service Officers to cover more of the campus. They developed the responsibility of the Community Service Officers by utilizing them as lot attendant, enabling the sworn officers to patrol more of the campus. There are currently 20 sworn officers covering all three campuses. Immediately following the rape, calls for escorts spiked and then lessened. Wagner said the escort service is encouraged and that he would like to see more students use it. In light of recent burglary activity at March Education Center, one of the District’s outlying buildings in Moreno Valley, the police are installing additional security measures such as card access on doors and in-house video monitoring. These added security measures, such as cameras and emergency phones, will most likely be installed in all new and renovated buildings at RCCD. Buildings that are not being renovated will be considered based on the budget and the potential threat to equipment and visitors. Police officers also patrol the halls and buildings at night once a month. If they notice a lighting hazard, such as a light out, a watch is placed, which could involve a police officer or a Community Service Officer.In the event that any of the three campuses are overwhelmed during an emergency, the police department can issue an “11-11” code, which is “police need help” and other agencies across the Inland Empire are able to dispatch their own units to assist. An “11-11” code was issued by the Riverside Police Department on Feb. 14 when a racial brawl broke out amongst 350 teenagers at Castle Park. Security at the park was quickly overrun at the Valentine’s Day $5 all-you-can-ride night special. Park security called for help, but the crowd also overwhelmed the Riverside Police Department. Corona Police Department and the California Highway Patrol dispatched units to Castle Park. Two police officers from RCC, Senior Officer Bob Kleveno and Officer Lori-Ann Williams also responded to the call. Their task was to secure the perimeter around Castle Park and establish a safe zone for parents to pick up their children.”If you hear an “11-11″, you respond, an officer needs help,” Williams said.Williams described the scene as pandemonium. Kleveno explained that RCCD’s Police Department has come a long way, reflecting their professionalism and training, because their fellow officers from other agencies feel comfortable calling them; they’re not considered security guards. Every police officer at RCCD is a state certified police officer and Peace Officer Standard and Training academy graduate. They must also complete an additional 40 hours of peace officer training. A few of the officers, including Chief Wagner, have been working at RCCD for more then 10 years. In fact, Wagner has been a police officer since 1970.”The police are responsible for enforcing laws and assisting with security issues within the district by using community orientated style of policing,” Wagner said. “They are here to serve the college community and their mission is to maintain a safe learning environment for students and faculty.”

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