GCC looks into security

GLENDALE — Glendale Community College officials are analyzing how they should communicate with campus employees when a security incident occurs, in the wake of a recent alleged attack on a faculty member by a former student at the college's main campus.

College police arrested 24-year-old Glendale resident Grayr Markosyan on Feb. 20 on suspicion of attacking a female faculty member in the college's library at about 7 a.m. Feb. 19.

Markosyan allegedly hit the teacher but did not use any weapons, according to campus police.

Police sought out Markosyan at his house, and he showed up at the campus police office for questioning on Feb. 20.

He was arrested on suspicion of battery when he declined to speak about the alleged encounter, college Police Chief Steven Wagg said.

There is a criminal enhancement for battery on a school employee, said college police Capt. Nidal Kobaissi, which means Markosyan could face felony battery charges.

“We're pushing for the felony charge,” Kobaissi said.

Markosyan is scheduled to be arraigned on March 20, Kobaissi said.

Prompted by the incident, the college held a town hall meeting Feb. 27 for employees to discuss security issues on campus.

About 40 faculty and staff members attended, and it became clear that the overriding concern of the attendees was in receiving more information faster when security incidents arise, said Larry Serot, the college's executive vice president.

“What we got from the folks is they want more information sooner,” Serot said.

After the alleged attack, college President Audre Levy sent an e-mail to faculty and staff members letting them know that a faculty member had been attacked, but the information was kept vague because the investigation was ongoing, Serot said.

The e-mail actually heightened insecurity among faculty, he said, because everyone knew something had transpired but no one knew exactly what.

Now, after speaking with the school's attorney, college officials realize that they probably could have released more information soon after the alleged incident without interfering with the investigation, Serot said.

“There were things we could have done without naming the perpetrator,” he said.

In response, a college committee consisting of administrators and faculty memberswill be looking at creating guidelines about how and when information can be released to the wider campus community when security incidents arise, Serot said.

Those guidelines might specify what kinds of information can be released for different kinds of incidents, Serot said.

That committee had been created in the fall and was already reviewing the college's administrative regulations around reporting security incidents when the Feb. 19 incident occurred, said Dawn Lindsay, the college's vice president of instructional services.

But the feedback at the town hall meeting made it clear that the college needed to include specific language in the guidelines on notification of the larger campus community, Lindsay said.

In general, the Glendale Community College campus is very safe, Wagg said.

Wagg estimated that in the last 10 years, about five misdemeanor assaults occurred on campus. And this incident was the first time an attack on a faculty member has been reported, he said.

“We have hardly any crime on the campus at all,” Wagg said.

When crimes do occur, campus police try to release as much information as they can, Wagg said, adding that police could have done more to release information in this most recent case.

In the next week or two, the campus will begin participating in a pilot program that will allow students and staff to be notified via text message when a security incident arises on campus, Wagg said.

The program is called AlertU, and was funded through the state chancellor's office in the wake of the massacre at Virginia Tech.


?ANGELA HOKANSON covers education. She may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at angelahokanson@latimes.com.

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