Error miscodes activity as rape

District website shows false record of crime


Janet Lira / The Advocate

A mass text on February 26 at 5:30 p.m. alerted Contra Costa College that a report of rape on the daily crime log was in fact a miscode.

By Cindy Pantoja, Opinion Editor

A Tweet by The Advocate regarding a miscoded report of “rape by force” generated pandemonium throughout the Contra Costa College administration, prompting a mass emergency text to students at roughly 5:30 p.m. on the evening of Feb. 26.

The daily crime log, available on the Contra Costa Community College District website, recorded the code PC 261 — rape by force at 1:27 p.m. on Feb. 20 in the Student Services Center.

Upon receiving the dispatch call on Feb. 20, Police Services Corporal David Sano and Officer Drake Gammil responded.

“We got a dispatch call for a person with information. It was not a rape or anything,” Sano said. “It was something different in nature that wasn’t even a crime. There was an actual report taken, yes. An informational report, but it was miscoded.”

Sano said calls come into the dispatch center on campus and are input into the system by the dispatcher, and are then answered by Police Services.

“We go to the call and clear the call, sometimes with the help of outside agencies, like 911,” he said.

However, after assessing the situation and determining that no rape or crime occurred in the SSC, the log remained unchanged for six days with no acknowledgment or clarification from Police Services.

In fact, the miscoded entry went unnoticed by the entire district until it was brought to light in a tweet by The Advocate at 2:42 p.m. on Feb. 26. The tweet included a screenshot of the incident report directly from the Daily Crime Log.

This prompted an immediate frenzy and a reply from @lifeatccc, the Twitter account for the campus, which read, “We looked into this and can verify that it was a coding error. It never referred to a rape. A student reported information relating to a crime that occurred several years ago, off campus. That crime was not a sexual assault.”

District Director of Communications and Community Relations Tim Leong said via Twitter, “Police Services indicated the incident was a miscoding and there was no rape on CCC campus.”

The Feb. 20 log was finally removed on March 1, nine days after its initial entry.

Police Services Chief Ed Carney said once the district found out about the miscoding and subsequent rape scare, they immediately began working with the software company to correct the issue.

“Apparently, it became much more difficult than it seemed after the extended period of time that the report was made,” Carney said. “We were completely dependent on the software company to get us the answers, but unfortunately, not all software glitches can be fixed easily.”

Carney said the reason there was such a long delay in removing the log was because the system is designed keep people from altering or falsifying what could ultimately be evidence.

“It’s not unusual for an event to be initially dispatched as something different than its outcome and the report to have a discrepancy,” he said. “Quite frankly, it would have gone completely unnoticed except for the event log recording such a horrible crime.”

Carney said that each campus lieutenant is responsible for keeping track of their reports, as well as their daily logs.

“Checks are done, at least typically twice, one by the shift lieutenant or by the college campus lieutenant and then again by the lieutenant in charge of our record keeping. That lieutenant did see it and did report over to CCC to have it changed and they were not able to change it,” he said.

“Obviously, if something like this had occurred, we would have made sure that people in the college community, our surrounding community, faculty and staff would have been made aware of the situation.”