Seattle Central Security Concerns Have Long History

Seeing sketchy people around campus, blood in the bathrooms, and getting yelled at for not bumming a cigarette is not an uncommon occurrence at Seattle Central. It is part of what makes Capitol Hill an interesting and diverse place (minus the blood — that’s nasty). However, Seattle Central in recent weeks has upped security and taken measures to prevent truly criminal incidents on campus. A robbery at gunpoint in neighboring Cal Anderson Park precluded a decision to step up security to operate 24/7, and a recent drunken scuffle by the Performance Hall has likely sharpened security’s eyes to that of an eagle.

These may seem like new developments but in actuality is only a small part in a long history of security concerns. “Recently, a scuffle involving a security guard and a homeless person who wandered onto campus occurred near an elevator. Another fight, between two men, occurred at the south rear entrance of the first floor, near the daycare center. These kinds of incidences can only be avoided by increasing security staff,” says a City Collegian article from 1994. The article entitled “Security Increase Urgently Needed” discusses the campuses lack of budget in hiring security and need for a stronger presence. It ran next to an article about gun control after the suicide of Kurt Cobain.

Today we see that security issues are still a point of contention and debate on campus but numbers of criminal incidents have remained relatively steady in the last few years and in some cases actually been reduced. A security report released yesterday by M. Elman McClain, Director of Safety and Security for SCCC, states the following stats for the 2011, 2010, and 2009 years.

  • Aggravated Assault – 2 (2011), 1 (2010), and 2 (2009);
  • Burglary – One attempted, and one forcible (2011), three forcible burglaries and no attempted (2010), and two forcible burglaries, no attempted (2009);
  • Larceny (theft) – 29 (2011), 43 (2010), and 42 (2009);
  • Vandalism – 2 (2011), 3 (2010), and 2 (2009);
  • Simple Assault – 4 (2011), 3 (2010), and 3 for 2009;
  • Liquor Law Arrests – 53(2011), 50 (2010), and 53 (2009);
  • Drug Law Arrests– 3 (2011), 2 (2010), and 3 (2009).

McClain notes in a previous email blast sent September 26th that, “with the start of another school year, we are already finding an increase in illegal activities in our north and south restrooms (both Women and Men). We do not have a specific time that the activity is happening, like last year we will be securing the outer restrooms (north and south) at 7:30 pm and unlocking them by 7:00 am.  The central restrooms near the elevators will remain unlocked and open for use during the night.”

The main men’s bathroom in the Broadway Performance Hall is frequently locked within these open hours; I cannot vouch for the women’s bathroom.

McClain in the email containing the stats encourages the public to be vigilant, “when you leave your office or classrooms please make sure that the doors are closed and locked.  Leaving the areas unattended is an open invitation for something to occur. Secure your valuables.  Lock purses and other items in desk or file cabinet drawers (out of sight/out of mind!)”

A 1976 article from The City Collegian, entitled “Campus Crime on Increase” echoes a nearly identical sentiment. “Advice to faculty and staff is to keep purses locked up in a desk, file cabinet, or storage cabinet,” says the unnamed article. The article leads with: “Students should be warned that there is an increased amount of theft at SCCC lately…Last week personal items were stolen from several offices.”

“I’d like more security officers on patrol around the campus as a whole. At budget time every year, I ask for more officers and I’m again denied,” says Robert Brown, Supervisor of Campus Security in the 1994 Collegian article.

After nearly two decades Seattle Central has decided it is time to increase the security. “They (the public) don’t realize the enormity of the area security has to patrol,” says Larri Sims, ASC President in the 94’ article. New City Collegian has heard that new security officers have been hired on but this has not been confirmed, however this seems likely given the expanded hours of operation for security.

Elman in closing says, “I am asking for the College community’s assistance, if you see any suspicious activity or persons wandering the building please contact the Public Safety Office at extension 5442 or 206.934.5442.  An officer will respond and check out the situation.”

We will provide updates on campus security as they become available. Also, will post pictures of old Collegian articles after some technical issues are sussed out.

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