Students assess campus safety

Photograph by Dan Reidel
Students and faculty found potential safety hazards Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, in the south campus area. Senior social science major Corina Martinez and A.S. Director of university affairs Nicole McAllister look for the city’s marking on a burned-out streetlight on Ivy Street while A.S. Vice President for facilities and services Kory Acosta holds a light and A.S. President Taylor Herren writes the number down.

Student volunteers met with city workers on Wednesday to identify safety hazards in the south-campus area.

After Chico police lost a key crowd-control resource, Associated Students officers are concerned that danger may be brewing for Chico State students this Halloween despite efforts to keep the streets safe.

Budget cuts haunt the Chico Police

Mounted police officers will be missing from the downtown scene this Halloween because of a lack of funding.

“It’s a huge hit to the police,” said J.W. Dobbe, the commissioner of community affairs. “They’re very helpful in crowd control.”

The city will likely pay $70,000 in overtime for police officers this Halloween weekend, a $20,000 increase compared to last year, according to the Police Committee Advisory Board.

This high demand for law enforcement during times like Halloween may be due to the large quantities of people migrating to Chico during holiday weekends.

“It’s absolutely an expense to the city,” said Taylor Herren, the president of the Associated Students. “So many people come from out of town that don’t live here, they are people who aren’t contributing taxes to our city, and then our law enforcement and other enforcement agencies are supporting them and serving them.”

Police made 74 arrests during Halloween weekend last year, according to the Chico Police Department.

Halloween the Wildcat Way

Student volunteers teamed up with city workers Wednesday night as part of the Associated Students South Campus Moonlight Safety Walk.

The group of about 30 volunteers swept the streets of the student neighborhoods in the south-campus area to identify safety hazards that could be fixed before Halloween weekend begins.

They found between 15 to 20 malfunctioning lights in addition to about 30 other safety hazards, including overgrowth of trees or bushes in pathways as well as potholes and uneven spots in the sidewalk.

The list of reported safety hazards has been forwarded to Lt. George Laver of the Chico Police Department, who will forward the list to the city’s public works department, according to Dobbe.

Issues like the unevenness of sidewalks will take more time, but Dobbe expects that hazards like the lights and overgrowth of plants or trees will be able to be fixed before  Halloween weekend.

“It’s a large request to ask the city to build new lights or to repair a whole sidewalk,” Herren said. “But it’s not a lot to ask them to fix a light.”

Among the group of student volunteers was Mark Orme, the assistant city manager, who came to support the efforts of the students and city workers who collaborated to resolve the safety issues.

“It’s my hope that we can achieve that communication so that we can remedy some situations,” Orme said.

Safety depends upon Chico State students

Approximately 46 percent of the people arrested last Halloween were non-residents, according to Chico police.

“The people that come from out of town are the people that really ruin it for us,” Dobbe said.

More restrictions are imposed on Chico State students because people unfamiliar with the downtown area aren’t aware of the special ordinances put in place during busy holidays, he said.

“There’s nothing our law enforcement, city, or university can do that they aren’t already doing to prevent people from coming who don’t live here.” Herren said, adding that students should treat Halloween weekend like any other. That means have fun but stay away from potentially regrettable situations, she said.

It’s up to Chico State students to be responsible for their actions and those of their guests that visit over the weekend to help reduce the amount of crime and violence this Halloween, Dobbe said.

“It’s got to be student lead and student-driven,” he said.


Valerie Teegardin can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.