Police department refuses to escort professor to her car ‘because of the weather’


A sign on one of the several blue poles around campus displays information about getting a police escort. English professor Cynthia Somin called for the service around 6 p.m. Wednesday, as she often does when she’s leaving work, but the dispatcher told her they couldn’t send anyone because it was raining. Photo credit: John Fordiani

English professor Cynthia Somin called the El Camino Police Department to get an escort to her car Wednesday night, as she often does. But the dispatcher refused to send one, they said, because it was raining.

However, Somin said at 6 p.m. Wednesday, when she was leaving work after grading papers in her office, it wasn’t raining.

“I tried to focus in my phone call to the police that I did not feel safe,” Somin said. “As far as I know, neither cadets nor golf carts melt in the rain. And it wasn’t even raining at the time.”

Somin added she has a bad hip and walking is “difficult” for her.

“I told that to the dispatcher and it didn’t make any difference,” she said. “They still would not send anyone to help me.”

Somin said she has called for a police escort “many times” in the past and has never had any similar incidents to what happened last night.

“During rainy weather, the electric carts don’t operate very well and sometimes we don’t use them when it rains,” EC Police Chief Michael Trevis said in an email. “The dispatcher focused on the electric carts and simply forgot that we have used other forms of escort such as police cars.”

Trevis added he has reminded all staff of the other ways to escort someone.

“For them to cut off such a service after dark, after such recent horrible events, I just found that ridiculous and completely unacceptable,” Somin said.

Somin emailed faculty members this morning about the incident and the email had gotten attention quickly.

Somin said she hadn’t been contacted by anyone at ECPD personally, but Trevis responded to Somin’s email and apologized to everyone on the listserv, adding that it wouldn’t happen again.

“I want the police department to be more responsive to our safety,” Somin said. “Campuses are not known for being safe places and El Camino is no exception.”