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Public safety leaves students in the dark

Oakland Police pursued a suspect onto the Mills College campus Saturday night, but students said Public Safety failed to alert the Mills community.

Public Safety officials said that the department did the best they could with the information and time they had available.

According to Public Safety Assistant Director Niviece Robinson, a man crashed his vehicle into the campus fence on MacArthur Blvd and 57th Street around 9:50 p.m. The man in the vehicle jumped the fence and entered the campus.

At 10:15 p.m. the suspect had been apprehended.

The Oakland police did not confirm why he was pursued.

Students said that their dorms, especially Ege Hall, were under lock down. As instructed by residential assistants and Public Safety, students remained inside their residence hall, locked their doors and turned off all lights.

“My friends and I saw police flashing bright lights into the Courtyard Townhouses,” said a senior that requested not to be named. “The police told me that there was a man with a gun on campus and they were trying to find him.”

She said she signed up for the Emergency Notification, yet she received no message.

The Emergency Notification system, available from the Mills Portal, contains a student’s cell phone number and notification preferences so that Mills can notify the student if any campus wide emergency occurs.

Robinson said that by the time Public Safety officers were able to log onto the computer and notify the campus, the incident already passed.

Not all students were satisfied with the precautions taken.

Sophomores Jennifer Taylor, Emily Grantz and their friends asked a Public Safety officer for a ride to their residence hall between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Taylor said that the officer did not recognize them and refused to take them up to their dorm on the hill.

He later agreed to take them one at a time, but Taylor said she and her friends were unhappy about the arrangement. They walked to the Mary Morse residence hall by themselves, unaware of the intruder until they saw police vehicles.

Grantz said she was outraged to hear that during their troubles with the Public Safety officer, a dangerous man had been present on campus.

Students also said that they were unhappy that the incident did not show up on Public Safety’s log of on-campus incidents. This log is published weekly on the Mills student-news and in the main Public Safety office at Sage Hall.

“Am I the only one who thinks a guy with a gun on our campus is relevant?” senior Jessica King asked in her Sept. 7 post on student-news.

Robinson said that the incident wasn’t included in the report because the police did not provide Mills with information about the intruder by the time the log was published.

“The log is only published once a week and if a report is not completed by a staff member or is out with another security administrator. for further investigation, it may not make that week’s listing,” she said.

A similar incident occurred at Mills on Feb. 16, 2007.

One or more carjackers hopped the fence near Seminary Ave and entered the campus, but Public Safety did not send out an e-mail because the incident was “over and done with” and was “not newsworthy,” according to Director of Public Safety Michael Lopez [The Weekly March 5, 2007].

Lopez said that Public Safety was not involved with the Feb. 16 incident.

Addressing the incident, Lopez asked, “What good is it to tell everyone except to instill fear that the police were on campus chasing a fleeing felon?” he said.

Emiko Shimabukuro and Carol Le contributed to this report.