Countywide : Trustees Take Note of Cigarette Punishment

As Philip Westin prepares to take over the helm of the Ventura County Community College District, a burning issue at his home campus has captured his attention and piqued the interest of some district trustees locally.

Last Friday, three part-time instructors at Golden West College's police training program forced two students to eat their own cigarettes as punishment for smoking.

The instructors resigned Monday after an investigation at the Huntington Beach school. All three are police officers who were employed part time in the school's Criminal Justice Training Center, a program that trains students to become police officers while earning credit for college courses.

Westin still heads Golden West College, but has pledged to attend every Ventura County district meeting before he takes over Jan. 2. He left an hour into Tuesday's meeting to field questions about the incident from trustees of the Coast Community College District, said Ventura County Trustee Pete Tafoya.

One of Westin's first duties as chancellor of Ventura County's three-campus district will be to finalize negotiations with the Sheriff's Department to reestablish a similar police training center at Ventura College.

"We are obviously interested with how he will deal with it," said Tafoya, who took over as president of the six-member board on Tuesday.

But others dismissed the problem, saying it had no effect on Westin's future negotiations with sheriff's officials in Ventura County.

"In any kind of program you can have one instructor who goes off the deep end," said Trustee John Tallman.

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