RCC intruder prompts safety concerns among students at MVC


The open front entrance of Moreno Valley College

Isai Pina, Staff Writer

It would be extremely challenging to make our campus impervious to bad actors if they are sufficiently determined

— Dr. Fabian Biancardi, Professor of Politics at Moreno Valley College

As mass shootings become more frequent in schools across the nation, students at MVC wonder what the police on campus are doing to ensure their safety.

The Riverside Community College District Safety and Police Department is a dedicated presence at Moreno Valley College that strives to earn the trust of students and staff to protect their lives. Even with a clear police force on campus, the threat of danger remains on everyone’s mind.

“Community colleges are generally completely open to the public with very many points of entry,” said Dr. Fabian Biancardi, Professor of Politics at Moreno Valley College. “It would be extremely challenging to make our campus impervious to bad actors if they are sufficiently determined.” In contrast, Dr. Biancardi, grew up and attended college in the United Kingdom, where Parliament banned private ownership of most guns after the Dunblane Primary School shooting in Scotland in 1996. There have been no school shootings in the U.K since.

According to Julie DeAnda, police officer at Moreno Valley College, students are well protected, and have resources too. “The RAVE Guardian app is available to all students to get a hold of us (police),” said Officer DeAnda. She also assured police escorts are available for all students in case one ever feels they need safeguarding. The Riverside Community College District website gives lots of information on resources available to everyone on campus. “Our social media accounts are also available with all our information for anyone who needs it,” said Officer DeAnda.

According to the RCCD Police Department procedure manual, “The district has prepared an Emergency Operations Plan for use by all employees in the event of a major disaster or other emergency event. The plan provides for a strategic response by all employees and assigns specific responsibilities in the event that the plan is activated.”

The plan the college district has set for an emergency recently came into play when a man was reported by students walking around with a knife at Riverside City College Tuesday, April 18.

In an email sent district-wide after the incident Dr. Dariush Haghighat, Vice President at Riverside City College detailed the failure of the emergency plan on April 18th. “This whole thing proved we are inadequately prepared and do NOT have a solid District and campus-wide functioning policy and process in place. If we have such policies and procedures in place, it was not operationalized today,” said Dr. Haghighat. “The situation was so bad that I had to go to my dean’s office and inform her that a police helicopter was hovering over our campus and warning everybody through its loudspeaker to run for shelter.”

While no one was injured during the incident, the protocols RCCD Police and Safety Department currently have in place, proved inadequate. “Our dean’s secretary called the campus police and received no answer or instruction. About twenty minutes after we took shelter in our classrooms and offices, we received the first mass e-mail regarding the lockdown,” said Dr. Haghighat.  The suspect was eventually arrested after officers disabled him with a stun gun, according to the Press-Enterprise.

There has not been a mass shooting in the Riverside area since the 2015 San Bernardino attack at the Inland Regional Center, with 16 dead and 24 injured. Still, students are well aware of the possibility of something of that magnitude occurring on campus. “I worry about coming to campus, it’s (a dangerous incident) always in the back of my mind,” said Jose Vigil, a student at MVC.  Dr. Biancardi agrees and shares the same concern, “It’s the most probable threat to us. The ubiquitous access to guns in this country, including weapons of war, means that there is always a chance that tragedy will strike in our places of work, leisure and home.”

The RCCD police department wants students to feel they are in a safe environment. “Our sole purpose for students, staff, and faculty is to provide a safe learning environment,” said Officer DeAnda. However, this purpose is questioned when occurrences like the one on April 18th leads students, staff, and faculty to feel unsafe. “No communication system was in place other than periodic e-mails with limited information, no intercom and no official text messages, and no instructions other than occasional e-mails with brief stay-in-lockdown messages,” said Dr. Haghighat.

Lack of preparation among RCCD campuses makes everyone who is on campus vulnerable to great danger and not knowing what to do. “We deserve better communication and a support system in place,” said Dr. Haghighat. Demanding stronger processes for handling emergency situations, Dr. Haghighat urged: “This should be a serious wake-up call for our District.”