Crime surge heightens concern

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By Araceli Diaz / Staff Writer

By Araceli Diaz / Staff Writer

Earlier this month a male described as 5 feet 10 inches tall, wearing grey sweatpants and a sweatshirt was exposing himself to female students in the parking structure at Riverside City College.

The incident has led faculty and students to be concerned over their personal safety.

The victimized students took Diana E. MacDougall, Associate Professor of American Sign Language into confidence after the episode.

“There are not enough lights, particularly in the Quad area, where it is pitch black,” MacDougall said. “There are plenty of bushes around, where you don’t know what could happen.”

 These incidents alarmed MacDougall who occasionally teaches evening courses. Students who take evening courses are more likely to encounter dangerous situations.

The Riverside Community College District (RCCD) College Safety and Police Department provide law enforcement services to the entire district.

The campus police are spearheaded by Chief of Police Jim Miyashiro and his team of 27 sworn personnel.

The police are on the trail of capturing the culprit.

The suspect was caught on video using the cameras in the RCC parking structure.

“We have several leads. We have a person identified on our video, and we can’t see him exposing himself, but he was the only person in the area when it was reported,” Miyashiro said.

Miyashiro offered advice on how to prevent these occurrences from happening to staff, students and faculty.

“The best thing to do, especially at night is to walk with somebody else, walk in groups because these things don’t usually happen when you’re in a group. The other thing is that we offer an escort service at night, for females who don’t have a walking group,” Miyashiro said.

Police escort services are provided by the RCCD College Safety and Police Department on all three campuses by calling  (951) 222-8171. This information is available of the RCCD website.

Campus police also urge students to keep themselves safe by being aware of their surroundings.

The blue emergency phones that are located at various locations on campus are there to serve students in need of assistance. The emergency phones connect directly to dispatch and are available at all times.

“People think the blue phones are only for emergencies, but they are also there to report crime, suspicious behavior and assistance,” Miyashiro said. “They are there to provide any service that you would normally call the police department for.”

Safety does not only rely on the RCCD College Safety and Police Department, but on individuals themselves.

The police encourage students to always report suspicious activity, be aware of their surroundings and report incidents when they occur.

“We always encourage people to report things. If something is stolen, you are likely to get your stuff back. Some of the minor things that might happen is that someone bumps your car, but we will still like to know about it,” Miyashiro said.

RCCD College Safety and Police Department inform their students of any assaults, reoccurring problems or sexual attacks via e-mail and text alerts.

Students can sign up for free emergency notifications on the RCCD website.

Professor MacDougall said that these services are only beneficial if students take advantage of them.

“[RCCD] can only do so much if people don’t bother to read e-mails or stay alert,” MacDougall said. “I know firsthand we have a great RCCD police department. There’s no lack of anything in their part. They just require more resources and funds to deal with higher enrollment.”

With even more students pouring into RCC, safety is becoming more of a responsibility of the individual.

“The best way for individuals to keep safe is to walk in groups, stay in lit areas, and know where the emergency phones are. Walk with your cell phone in your hand and keep our number programmed in your phone, (951) 222-8171,” Miyashiro said.

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