UPDATED: Some question District’s tactics

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This version has been updated from a previous version.
By Jennipher Vasquez

Riverside City College’s safety protocols were brought into question after an incident caused a campus-wide shutdown.

An alert from the college was initially sent to students and later by the Riverside Community College District following reports to the campus police of a man walking around the college with a knife in hand April 18.

The man was detained near the RCC Early Childhood Development Center nearly three hours after the initial alert was sent.

RAVE alert system is utilized by the District to alert those who are opted-in for the notifications of any possible security threats and allows users to report incidents and crimes through the app.

According to faculty from the Children’s Center, alerts being received were not aligning with what they were able to see through their office windows. 

ECDC faculty member Emily Philippsen said she is grateful for the immediate response from authorities but there is a need to improve communication.

“From our perspective down here, the RAVE messages were not matching what we were seeing from our windows, which was 40 police officers with their guns drawn for over two hours,” Philippsen said.

She said that there was not much information given aside from the campus-wide alerts. 

“We knew it was not an active shooter, we just didn’t know that people would think it was an active shooter,” Beiwei Tu, Director of Risk Management and system administrator for RAVE alerts said. 

Tu said they did not send the alert clarifying that the situation was not an active shooter situation until after the District’s strategic communications learned there was discussion on social media about a possible active shooter on campus. 

Following the incident Philippsen described in an email addressed to the RCC community what the shelter in place order was like with children present and not knowing whether or not there was an active shooter present. 

The initial alert sent at 9:36 a.m. read: “RCCD Urgent Alert: There has been an incident at Riverside City College, please shelter in place. More information to follow.”

Over an hour passed before another alert was sent out stating that it was not an active shooter and that police were, “engaged.”

“Even one of our teachers recognized the innocent danger of children having light up shoes in the dark during lockdown,” Philippsen’s email stated. “Often, our little corner of the college is forgotten down here. Until yesterday, when we were front and center on the news for all the wrong reasons.”

Dean of Instruction of Career and Technical Education Shari Yates was in contact with faculty at the Children’s Center during the lockdown according to Philippsen. Yates said that teachers and some faculty from the center who were present the day of the incident have taken advantage of counseling offered by the college. 

“I want faculty, students, administrators and everyone to know that there’s this resource on campus of a mental health professional that can support them when an issue arises,” Yates said. “It’s nice to have someone who can give some extra resources and maybe de-escalate any kind of situation.”

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