Golden West reinforcing its security

Golden West College will be looking to add surveillance systems and improve lighting on campus to beef up safety for its students and staff.

Coast Community College District board members unanimously voted Wednesday night to approve a contract with P2S Engineering to develop a security master plan for the campus.

The college will spend $49,500 to begin the process, according to a staff report. The consultants are charging the district $32,000 for the plan and $17,500 for a lighting survey and evaluation.

The cost will be paid through Measure M funds that Golden West has allocated for security, according to campus public safety director Jon Arnold. The district bond measure, intended for construction-related work, was approved by voters last year.

Because of recent violence or threat of it on school campuses across the nation, including the Cal State Fullerton lockdown in 2012 and the Santa Monica College shooting in June, Arnold said Golden West needs to ensure the safety of students and staff.

"There's an increased effort to pay particular attention to this because it may have been missed in the past," he said.

Board President Lorraine Prinsky, who was a professor at Cal State Fullerton for almost 40 years, said she remembers when the campus was locked down.

She said she was being sworn in as president that night, and her colleagues from the university couldn't make it to the ceremony because of the safety precautions being taken.

"We've never had to think about so much of this before," Prinsky said.

The district president added that college campuses are vulnerable because of their open nature.

"Anybody can walk on at any time," Prinsky said. "Take Golden West College for example: There are so many different entrances from all different directions."

Arnold, a retired Huntington Beach police captain, said the security infrastructure is due for an update since the campus was built in the 1960s.

"When things were built in those days, they weren't really thinking about our current safety concerns," he said. "If you were building a campus today, you would incorporate those things from the beginning."

Golden West's public safety department and the consultants will look into updating surveillance systems and improving lighting around the campus, Arnold said.

At most colleges and universities in Southern California, theft is among the most-reported crimes. Golden West campus officials tallied 41 thefts in 2011 and 45 in 2010, according to the school's crime statistics.

Arnold said bicycles are the items most likely to be reported stolen, and the department is looking to address this issue by placing bike racks, now located near the parking lots, closer to the middle of campus.

The former police captain, who has experience with video surveillance, having worked as a security manager with the Orange County Superior Court system,

said authorities could better identify thieves if new cameras were installed around campus.

"They're there to capture images of activity," Arnold said. "For example, if you have a traffic collision in the parking lot and it's captured on video, you could see who the person was that may have caused the accident. Or if you had an altercation, like a fight, you could see who threw the first punch. The benefit of having video recordings is pretty powerful."

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