Change in alert system coming
An emergency text alert system may soon be used in the Contra Costa Community College District.
The district is currently looking to work with the technology company Regroup. Regroup focuses on providing mass alert services and has partnered with community colleges across the country.
"We saw a demo of a product just about a month ago," district Executive Vice Chancellor of Education and Technology Mojdeh Mehdizadeh said. "On March 31 there is going to be another demo, this time a remote one."
Regroup's first demo was for officials from the district, the three Police Services lieutenants and the district police chief Charles Gibson. The demo on March 31 is supposed to be for officials at the individual college level, Mehdizadeh said.
She said that Regroup partners with the company that provides the district's communication services. She said the product will not only allow the district to send out emergency alerts, but also alert students to things such as a cancelled class.
"Their (Regroup's) product will integrate easily with the technology we already have," she said.
Mehdizadeh said Regroup is asking somewhere in the low $20,000 range for their product.
Many colleges in California and across the nation use text messages to alert students to dangers on campus. Emergency texting allows a college campus to provide real-time alerts to students. Alerting students to dangers on campus in a timely fashion is a rule set by the 1990 Clery Act.
"Right now, to alert students we send out an email blast or use the air raid siren in San Pablo," Police Services Lt. Jose Oliveira said. "We can use the fire alarms too if we need to evacuate people."
Last semester, there were 41 crimes reported by The Advocate, which bases the numbers upon Police Service's crime reports. Many of these crimes involved non-students from the surrounding community. A few of these reports involved firearms, though theft is by far the most common crime on campus.
The adoption of an emergency text alert system is something students believe is absolutely necessary.
"I've never been made aware of a crime on campus quickly," nursing major Chris Brooks said. "A lot of colleges use some sort of Amber Alert system to let students know about crimes. I know San Jose State uses one."
Already this semester multiple instances of theft have been reported to Police Services.
On Feb. 5, one student reported being robbed at the Bus Transfer Center.
She was waiting for her bus when a man she did not know stole her cell phone after a brief struggle, Lt. Oliveira said. No arrest has followed from this report, and Police Services currently do not have a suspect, Oliveira said.
Crimes on campus can also take the form of embezzlement.
Last semester, a female student working at the Bookstore was found to have illegally refunded money onto her personal credit card and was fired. No charges were filed by the Richmond district attorney, Oliveira said.
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