Security: Missing crimes added to records

Chris Cadelago and Chris Cadelago

City College has decided to retroactively add to its crime statistics an attempted sexual assault and two other attacks, but will not include the rape last fall of a student by an on-duty security officer in a campus-owned truck.

“I have been advised by three attorneys that the off campus rape for which [Kent] Kafatia was convicted [and is serving eight years for] does not fall under the federal reporting requirements,” said Superintendent-President John Romo.

The decision follows the filing of a civil suit by the student who was raped last fall by Kafatia, charging the college for failure to investigate a previous rape on campus thus putting her in harms way. Also, a review of Board of Trustee agendas reveals she filed a claim against the college in May 2005, which the board denied. A claim is generally a precursor to a lawsuit.

The college’s three-week internal investigation into the security department’s records found the attacks missing from all school records.

“Mistakes were made and they needed to be corrected in order to be in compliance with regulations,” Romo said.

Romo plans to continue the long-term investigation by hiring a temporary consultant to observe security department procedures. After all records from the Santa Barbara Police and Fire departments have been cross-referenced, the investigation will wrap up and the consultant will draft a set of recommendations, Romo said.

Since Kafatia’s arrest in Nov. 2004, the college began doing background checks of all potential security personnel. Romo added that the college is planning on implementing a shuttle service, connecting East and West Campus with the Pershing Park car lot and the Harbor, for students unwilling to walk across campus in the dark.

“We may see some changes in security,” Romo said. “I feel this is an opportunity to tighten up procedures on this campus.”

Meanwhile the Admissions Office continues to give students registering for spring classes, campus crime statistics that do not include any of the missing assaults or attacks.

“I just registered for classes, I know these lists are still being handed out,” said Associated Students Senator Keith Russell on Friday. “I don’t really understand why.”

“I was kind of surprised the old list was in there after reading the news the last couple of weeks,” said student Alain O’Connor. “After everything that has gone on it seems [the college] hasn’t learned anything yet.”

The Channels alerted college officials of the oversight two weeks ago and they responded by no longer handing out the outdated information. However, students began receiving the outdated statistics again last week.

Romo said the college is once again looking into the matter.

During the regular Associated Students Senate meeting Friday, student senators expressed their concern about the security department to Romo, saying they don’t always feel safe on campus.

Senator James Carter said at the meeting that twice last year when he approached City College security officers to ask a question, he could smell alcohol on the officers’ breath.

“I then reported this to [Security Director] Mr. Dafoe and never heard what happened next,” said Carter, who was last year’s student senate president.

Joey Williams, current student senate president, also said he disapproves of what he said he has seen as security department abuses of power, such as individual officers making allowances for friends.

In an interview following the meeting, Acting Security Director Erik Fricke said that had Dafoe heard allegations like this he would have taken action. Dafoe remains on a medical leave of absence, which he took one day after The Channels published the story exposing the missing crimes.

Williams also brought up concerns he has with officer patrol patterns. He said lack of lighting on the stairwell leading to Pershing Park, coupled with the lack of a security presence, makes for a burdensome walk.

“I am a big guy but walking down the stairs to Pershing Park at night, even I’ve been scared,” Williams said. “For a woman, I am sure it can be worse.”

Freshman Amanda Haugen, in an interview Friday in front of the Campus Center, agreed with Williams.

“There is not enough lighting on the Pershing Park stairs,” she said. “I always think someone can be hiding in the bushes there. It is scary at night.”

Romo said the stairwell has been a problem area for the college but maintained that the 75-acre campus is very safe. He added, “I would say this college is as safe as any other college.”