Editorial: Point-blank problems

By Editorial Board

Some 20 years after 13 students were murdered and 24 others suffered injuries in the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, no concrete plan to ensure student safety has been implemented on any of the nation’s educational campuses.

So far this year alone, 15 school shootings on school campuses have indiscriminately targeted students across the country in states from Georgia westward to California.

Contra Costa County has been no exception to recent threats of campus violence.

To address student concerns about the increasing number of threats and graffiti depicting hateful rhetoric on local campuses, Contra Costa Community College District Police Chief Ed Carney sent a districtwide email Thursday afternoon that included tips for “training against the potential of an active aggressor.”

In the email Carney assures students, “Protecting and ensuring the safety of all employees, students and visitors to our District sites is our most important priority.”

The message also offered readers links to YouTube videos on school active shooter preparedness.

That’s our protection, 12 minutes of Run, Hide, Fight videos (one from 2012) and a cookie-cutter public service pamphlet?

In the past, district Police Services held seminars on our campus that taught attendees how to use the Run, Hide, Fight method in their own environment, which made planning and the ensuing discussions more effective.

There were even drills held on campus to highlight evacuation routes in case of an emergency — once.

At the time, Contra Costa College Police Services Lt. Tom Holt said preparation for facing an active shooter is a big reason for those drills, but not the only reason.

However, as signs of local on-campus intolerance seem to increase, district Police Services’ willingness to inform students on how to best protect themselves in case of a life-threatening emergency has decreased.

Threats of violence and tactics of intimidation have already been confirmed in our district and intolerance-based violence has proven to have already crept onto the campuses of our county.

This past week, California High School in San Ramon (located in Central Contra Costa County) made headlines after graffiti detailing threats of a Columbine-style attack and racist messages aimed at African Americans was discovered in a rest room on campus.

Similarly, in June of 2018, a 13-year-old boy was arrested after making his plans to kill at least 30 people at Valley View Middle School in Pleasant Hill public through social media, according to Concord police and FBI filings.

And then there is the racist graffiti aimed at black students that was found in a rest room at CCC’s sister college, Diablo Valley in Pleasant Hill, earlier this semester that called into question the level of concern the district has for its marginalized students.

In the DVC incident, the lack of a full-throated response by DVC and district officials is a microcosm of the district’s approach to disaster readiness, evacuation plans or any number of potential crisis — send an email as a record of good faith and hope everything quietly goes away.