Deputies will keep patrolling college campuses for one year

Following a week of uncertainty, public outcry and a report by 2 Investigates, the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a one-year extension with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office to patrol the campuses of Alameda, Merritt and Laney colleges.

The contract, approved last week, assigns a lieutenant, sergeant and seven deputies spread out among the three colleges. Their shifts run between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. Monday through Friday. Additionally, six technicians answer emergency calls 24/7 received from anywhere on the campuses.

Chancellor Frances White responded to a request from 2 Investigates following an initial report that the board had voted 5-2 not to approve the contract with Alameda County Sheriff's Office. Only trustees Bill Withrow and Linda Handy voted for the contract at the previous board meeting to avoid a lapse in police services at the college campuses.

"The safety of our Students, Faculty and Staff is of utmost importance to us at Peralta," White said in an email. "It was unfortunate that the timing of this contract renewal coincided with the change in leadership at Peralta, as it took time for us to get up to speed with what the previous administration was working on, or had accomplished."

Concerns were raised previously regarding officers' conduct, relationships between the police department with students and staff, and cultural differences.

Deputies will stop patrolling college campuses, emergency phones still don't work

White explained new language was added to the approved agreement mandating apprenticeships, community policing, constructive dialogue, training, evaluation and assessment procedures.

The Chancellor explained there will be quarterly meetings with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office to discuss and receive reports, complaints and incidents on campus.

Additionally, a safety presentation updated trustees and the public on the blue emergency phones that fell into disrepair and exposed by 2 Investigates earlier this year.

Some emergency phones on community college campuses broken for nearly a decade

As of last week, all 14 phones were reported to be working on the Laney campus, with one more on order, set to be installed this summer. At Merritt College, six of 10 phones are now working and Peralta claims the vendor plans to have the rest working by this summer. Lighting has already been upgraded at Laney College and 50 percent of lighting has been converted at Merritt College with more to come. Alameda will soon follow.

Before voting, the board also agreed to an amendment to support a financial and performance independent audit of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, similar to those raised by the city of Berkeley and Senator Nancy Skinner.

The district also pays for private security including 18 security guards and 32 campus safety aides, according to the presentation.

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