The Current recently set out to write an article on campus safety. The intention was to provide students with a detailed layout of different emergency procedures in the event of an active shooter, earthquake, fire, flood, etc., and to remedy some of the questions and conflicting information.
After reaching out to several students and faculty members around campus, the Current realized that there is no consensus among American River College’s population of what the first step should be if a crisis were to develop.
We, as a paper, felt that it was important information for the students of ARC to know the procedures before a situation even arose.
You will notice however, that we did not write the article. You will also notice that none of those questions have been answered anywhere in this edition of the paper.
This wasn’t by choice.
On several different attempts, we contacted the Los Rios Police Department to serve as a primary source for the article and on each of these attempts we were met with absolute silence. We still don’t know what to do in the event of an active shooter, we still don’t have a solution for students with physical disabilities who fear becoming trapped on the third floor of Davies Hall if a fire overtook the building. We still don’t have any of the answers to the many questions we wanted to ask; the Los Rios Police Department has made sure of that.
We repeatedly sent a letter to the email listed on their website for general questions; we tried to make direct contact with them by walking into the station and we even emailed LRPD Police Captain Chris Day directly.
Each of these different paths of attempted communication were effectively shut down before they really ever began. The Current can say in good faith that those failures were no fault of our own.
And while it is to be understood that the negotiating grounds between the press and the police here have often been tense, the Current has at least tried to host those negotiations.
There is no resentment on our end towards campus peace officers. We merely report on the facts available to us. It is no fault of ours that some of those facts have recently painted the police in a negative light. Facts such as the sexual assault and rape allegations levied against former LRPD officer Noah Winchester, or the recent incident at a Sacramento High School football game during which an LRPD officer allegedly began spraying mace into a crowd.
The LRPD, however, has made it clear that they have no interest in even entertaining the notion of talking to the press.
Whether Day and the rest of campus police like it or not, the Current serves as the most public steward of information for the largest college student body in Northern California. And when it comes to the matter of public safety, we attempted to provide this school’s 30,000 students with what could eventually prove to be life-saving information.
We attempted to actively help make the campus a safer place by distributing the information that could potentially create the difference between an emergency and a tragedy.
This isn’t a declaration of dislike against the LRPD. If anything, it’s the exact opposite. I’s a call for some sort of stalemate to whatever disdain the LRPD seemingly has against the Current.
This shouldn’t be some political slugfest between the news and the cops. This is a college campus with tens of thousands of students all asking the same question: ‘what do I do when that fire alarm goes off? What do I do when I hear gunshots on campus? Who do I call? Where do I go?’
What the LRPD seems to have forgotten is that the journalists on the Current are more than just reporters, we are also the very students that they have sworn to protect.
The Current serves as the voice of students at American River College, and the LRPD has refused to acknowledge or communicate with that voice, meaning they seem to have no interest in communicating with the students they are supposed to be watching over.
For example, did you know that you’re not supposed to call 9-1-1 to report a crime on campus? The LRPD has its own number, which is (916) 484-8383. Many students don’t know this information because it hasn’t been made clear to them.
If the LRPD would like to provide this information that students so desperately need, we welcome it in whatever form it may come. Whether that’s a scheduled interview with Day and the LRPD or just a Letter to the Editor outlining what different procedures are, we are all ears.
Correction: Incorrectly referred to Chris Day as police chief when he is in fact police captain.