By LUKE PUTVIN
With the recent sexual assault reported at Edmonds Community College (EDCC) on Saturday, August 3, the Lynnwood Times reached out to the college to discuss campus safety with regard to sexual assault. Jade Jeter-Hill, Director for Campus Safety, Security and Emergency Preparedness, spoke about the resources available on campus as well as how security on campus functions.
“We work with local hospitals, when appropriate,” Jeter-Hill said, “and we have on-campus counseling resources as well as victim support and advocacy resources. We have a very robust program, and we work very intently and intentionally to ensure those who are reporting crimes of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault… that we’re getting them the support services they need.”
All security officers on the EDCC campus receive training in trauma-informed interviewing; training like this provides them with tools similar to local law enforcement, with which the college works very closely.
“The Lynnwood Police Department are amazing partners; we have a great relationship with them,” said Jeter-Hill.
When asked about their working relationship with Edmonds Community College, Lynnwood Police Department responded, “We have enjoyed a long history of working collaboratively with each other on issues surrounding campus safety and emergency preparedness. Whether it is collaborating in joint training efforts, participating in table-top exercises, providing presentations to staff or students, or even when just responding to a 9-1-1 call-for-service, we work very closely with our colleagues at the campus.
When an incident is reported to security, an officer contacts another officer and tells them to contact the police and then goes to investigate the incident. The campus also puts out something called a “timely warning.” This warning will include information about the aggressor and situation, where the incident occurred and what you can do to help improve your safety around the campus in these situations.
“We move quickly to get the timely warning out,” Jeter-Hill said. “We will typically have enough information to report this as early as 15 minutes and as late as one hour.” She stressed the need for clear information, and she said that the timely warning will provide the overarching classification for the incident. For example, sexual assault as defined by the Violence Against Women Act includes rape, fondling, incest and statutory rape. However, since the information was not clear enough at the time to specify which of these the incident would fall under, it was reported as the overarching definition, sexual assault.
Edmonds Community College also has a crime log online available for public viewing that lists all incidents reported to the college.
“We list crimes on our crime log as they are reported to us in good faith,” Jeter-Hill said. This is because of the Clery Act signed in 1990. “The only way to take something off the crime log is if the report is considered ‘unfounded,’ and that can only be done by local law enforcement.”
EDCC’s campus contains multiple “blue phones,” which are bright blue podiums with a phone and flashing light at the top. The blue phone has two buttons; the black button can be pressed to call campus security on a 24 hour cell phone, and the red button calls 911 directly. Jeter-Hill said the college works closely with 911 to make sure the tower will give the location when the call is put through.
One the red button is pressed, the blue light on the top of the podium starts flashing, and the loudspeaker broadcasts: “911, what’s your emergency?” Jeter-Hill mentioned this can potentially act as a deterrent for any incident that may occur.
The college has been building the blue phone system over the past four years, and it is expensive. “We have to run power out to the phones, so the cost of trenching and cabling for the phone can get expensive if it is further away from buildings,” Jeter-Hill said. In addition to the blue phones, most buildings have a yellow call box near the main entrance; these call boxes will make a direct call to campus security.
Additionally, to make sure their records are up to date, Jeter-Hill mentioned that the college will send reports to the Lynnwood PD regularly asking for any reports made on campus addresses.
From 2015 to 2018, Edmonds Community College had nine reported sexual assault cases; there were six reports in 2015, three reports in 2016 and zero reports in 2017 and 2018. According to the data in the EDCC Annual Crime Statistics, about 15.5% of the reported crimes from 2015-2018 were sexual assaults.
One example of preventative work EDCC is doing is the Healthy Relationships Team (HEART) which was established in 2016 as a coordinated community response to sexual assault as well as domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.
HEART works with classes and clubs, and it provides training to faculty and staff as well as students to help prevent violence.
According to the HEART page: “We are spreading the message at 1) sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking is not tolerated in our campus community, and 2) everyone does their small part to help others. As a member of our campus community, you can help interrupt violence when it occurs. You can also contribute by doing small, yet compassionate acts of service for the people around you.”
EDCC also provides confidential counseling with a mental health counselor or an advocate in a private room on campus.
For more information about the services available at EDCC, visit www.edcc.edu/heart/get-help.html.
If you, or anyone you know, are a victim of sexual assault and abuse, call the 24-Hour Crisis Line at 425-252-4800.