No matter how small the incident may be, Lt. Lou Zizzo with San Diego City College Police takes all calls as an emergency — “Let us determine if it’s nothing,” he says.
The Campus Police dispatch office, tucked away on the bottom level of the Career Technology Center, is an around-the-clock coverage unit.
“Maintaining high visibility to deter crime is key,” says Officer Jason Stone, who has been part of the San Diego Community College District for about six years.
“We live in an urban area. I want students to be more aware of their environment to help be responsible for themselves and their safety. I’m worried about me not being there fast enough,” says Stone, who believes community mentality can help create a safer campus.
Having an open campus means anyone can walk in and out. Stone elaborates, “It’s hard to separate who are students and non-students. Sometimes it hurts us because we can’t stop people from being here.”
Some students feel like there are no strong issues with the police.
“There are some things they do more or not enough of,” says 19-year-old graphic design student Lashay Shakira.
Campus Police recommends that students have college dispatch programmed into cell phones and that they save time for reaction. Sgt. Zizzo says, “Be aware of your surroundings. If something doesn’t feel right, call us.”
Some students aren’t aware there is a campus police force, such as Karen Garcia, a 25-year-old chemistry major.
Over summer break, the Cosmetology department faced an event where a student damaged equipment. During the incident, students and teachers worked together to keep each other safe. Before campus police arrived, damage to several floors was done. More than one officer was needed to contain the student.
Zizzo was the first responder to make contact with the student. “We get a call from the dean that a student is out of control and assaulting staff,” he says.
The Cosmetology department declined to release any information until the case that followed the incident is settled.
According to Dean of Student Affairs Michael Paul Wong, the student’s name is not to be released. “In any incident that has a possibility of affecting the safety of our student or faculty, we will drop everything and work on that immediately,”
Jay Velasco, a first-year Cosmetology student, was downstairs when the alarm went off and people were evacuating. When asked if he felt unsafe, he responded, “absolutely.”
Witness George Diaz, second-year Cosmetology student, explains that, in his opinion, “ … Once a person passes a certain level of anger, that person needs help,” attributing the outburst to the student’s mental state.
As part of preventing disasters related to mental health and in an effort to promote overall well-being, the district offers students counseling for any emotional crisis. Campus Police is working together with Student Counseling to encourage students to seek help when they need it.
Campus Police services can be found online at http://police.sdccd.edu/aboutus.cfm. For any emergency, call dispatch at (619)388-6405.
Those in need of counseling can find information on how to set up an appointment at http://www.sdcity.edu/CollegeServices/StudentSupportResources/Counseling.aspx or by calling (619) 388-3540.