Sheriffs aim to improve crisis response

Valley’s sheriffs shore up emergency procedures in the wake of recurring campus threats.

By Dede Ogbueze, Staff Writer

Valley College is no stranger to threats and incidents on campus. Valley was evacuated due to several threats made against campus on March 30, the day before Cesar Chavez Day and the spring break holiday that followed.

The threats were deemed neutralized and no one was harmed, but instances like these raise eyebrows about the Valley’s emergency preparation and response. Students were made aware of the evacuation via text message alert, a part of the school’s “Blackboard” notification system, according to Deputy Sheriff Javante Brown.

“We are working on making the communication faster,” said Brown. “This last incident, students were getting information from other students, instead of from [the sheriff’s office], so we need to prevent that.”

Several students say that the evacuation happened quickly, but there was some confusion.

“I wasn’t even in class when I got [the message],” said Jorge Garcia, sophomore. “I saw a bunch of people leaving, and when I heard sirens, it made sense.”

Students were informed that it was an immediate evacuation. Under this protocol, students are asked to leave campus and return for their vehicles and personal belongings later.

The message the students received read, “Dear campus community, LAVC has received several threats and are working with law enforcement to validate these threats. The campus is being evacuated. Please leave the campus immediately and calmly. This is not a drill. All evening classes are cancelled.”

Students were notified by email that the threats were not credible. There is an emergency response information plan that outlines all of the campus procedures in the case of several different emergency situations on the campus sheriff’s section of Valley’s website. Emergency procedures outlined include, but are not limited to, bomb threats, active shooters, fires, earthquakes and violent demonstrations.

Valley’s executive plan urges students to act swiftly and to use common sense when reacting to an unexpected incident. “While this guide does not cover every conceivable situation, it does supply the basic guidelines necessary to cope with most campus emergencies,” reads the executive plan.

Students are urged to follow protocol and to protect their own lives before assisting others. Sheriff Brown stated that in the case of future evacuations, there will be designated members of the campus Emergency Operations Center dressed in yellow vests guiding students and faculty to safety.

According to Brown, faculty is being briefed on safety procedures and will undergo building marshall training.

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