Robbery prompts security changes

Valley College’s sheriff providing services to safeguard the campus in wake of February’s robbery.

By Kevin Buckles Jr., Editor in Chief

momentGuillermo Martinez / Photographer

Following February’s strong-arm robbery on campus — which still remains an open case despite no new leads –, Valley College’s Sheriff Station has placed a premium on better ensuring the safety of all Monarchs.

The robbery itself occurred the night of February 12 around 9:25 p.m. when a male student was robbed by two unidentified assailants while walking towards Parking Lot A, past the Engineering Building. The suspects pushed the student from behind and took a briefcase out of his hands containing a textbook and a Apple laptop.

“Yes, [campus security has been heightened since last month’s robbery],” said Deputy Sheriff Frank Velasco. “I have personally met with Maintenance and Operations to not only have our guys out there patrolling more during the hours of when the robbery occurred, but we’re also trying to improve the lighting.”

Keeping the campus bright at night is very important to the safety of students and faculty who are partaking in evening classes, according to Maintenance and Operations Director Tom Lopez.

“For example, the pool by the South Gym was one of the darkest areas on campus, but now that we have added Alumni Walk via construction, it is now one of the brightest areas on campus.”

The Sheriff Office is also actively attempting to add more surveillance cameras, blue phones (public phones that are placed campus-wide for emergency use only), and alarm systems. However, these pro-safety tactics all have to be approved under the school budget, according to Velasco, but there is currently no timetable. In the meantime, the sheriffs do have safety tips and services for students and faculty available on their website. Such tips include: when walking on campus at night, walk confidently and directly, avoid doorways, bushes, and alleys where attackers can hide, and have car keys in hand en route to the vehicle.

A “safety escort service” is also available for Valley faculty, staff, students, and guests who may be walking alone on campus at night. By simply calling the Sheriff’s Office and requesting a safety escort to authorities, an on-duty officer will accompany the person(s) to their destination via their police vehicle.

Besides the safety escort, being aware of one’s surroundings is the biggest key to remaining safe on campus, according to Velasco.

“Students and faculty often always have their iPhones in their hands and their earphones on and aware of what’s going on around them,” said Velasco. ” The important thing on campus is to walk directly to where you’re going and pay attention.”

As of now, Valley’s burglaries and thefts have decreased by nearly 30 percent from last year — with 14, and the sheriffs plan to keep it that way.

“Any time students are on campus, whether there are classes or no classes, there’s always security here on campus that they can come to if they need help,” said Velasco. “Our security here at the sheriff station is seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are always open.”

For more information on sheriff services and availability, please visit: https://www.lavc.edu/sheriff/index.html or call at (818) 947-2911.

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