By Jennipher Vasquez
Members of the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees complimented the district police for detailed improvements made to safety protocols and emergency communications implemented over the summer.
“This is a lot more impressive than I thought it was going to end up being at this level,” Trustee Mary Figueroa said.
RCCD Police Chief Christopher Cano and District Director of Risk Management Beiwei Tu presented an emergency preparedness update to the Board on Sept. 5. Changes they discussed included safety training for District staff and police, emergency procedures and a student active shooter training.
Tu and Cano said many of the improvements were made in response to the concerns raised from “critical incidents” at RCC and identifying areas of improvement.
“With a systematic approach we have identified target interventions that encompass a range of initiatives,” Tu said. “We provide additional training and hands-on practice to foster a culture of preparedness among our employees and students.”
She said that they are committed to enhancing police response and refining their crisis communication strategies to ensure the effectiveness and timeliness of crucial information during emergencies.
Emergency communication was a massive concern following an incident on campus involving a man roaming around RCC with a knife in hand the morning of April 18. Students and staff from the college received sporadic notifications throughout the day.
Eventually, the District sent out an “ALL CLEAR” alert through the District’s RAVE Alert System. However, concerns raised were about timeliness and lack of clear information on protocol or what the emergency was.
Many said they believed the incident involved an active shooter before it was made clear, hours later, that it was in fact not an active shooter situation.
“I think that was a concern back in April where people were receiving the first RAVE alert and the second alert, but there was a gap period of several hours,” Trustee Terri Then said.
There was confusion over whether the campus was on a “lockdown” or “shelter-in-place” order and what each of those terms meant.
Defining the various emergency procedures — active shooter, lockdown, shelter in place, fire, evacuation, earthquake and medical emergencies — was a key focus of the presentation.
Executive Director of External Relations and Strategic Communications for RCCD Christopher Clark gave a portion of the presentation, part of which detailed a District Alert Webpage that is in the works.
“This alerts webpage will have links to authoritative sources like FEMA, the National Weather Service and other sites that offer preparedness information,” Clark said. “When the alerts webpage is activated there will be a centralized place for the public to access alerts and emergency related information.”
The website is also intended to display the most recent RAVE alerts so that they are easily accessible to anyone, whether they are signed up to receive the alerts or not.
The link, when active, will be displayed on the RCCD website homepage and on the homepage for each district college website: Moreno Valley, Norco and Riverside.
“I would like to commend you for the tremendous progress that has been made over the last two or three months,” Trustee Bill Hedrick said. “This far exceeded my expectation.”