Annual report reveals rise in reported drug-related arrests of non-students


Rosemary Montalvo

El Camino College Police Department Detective Thompson converses with a man sitting in the back of his patrol vehicle Monday, April 1. Drug abuse and weapon violation arrests have increased at El Camino College’s off-campus sites and public property surrounding the campus. Rosemary Montalvo/The Union

Reported drug abuse and weapon violation arrests have gone up over the last year at El Camino College’s off-campus sites and public property surrounding the campus, according to a report released by the El Camino College Police Department on Monday, Sept. 30.

At public property surrounding ECC, which includes streets and sidewalks along the perimeter of campus, drug abuse arrests went up from 11 in 2017 to 17 in 2018; weapon violations also increased from one in 2017 to three in 2018, according to the Annual Security Report (ASR), a yearly-released document that contains information on campus security policy and crime statistics in compliance with the federally mandated Jeanne Clery Act.

The report also shows that at off-campus sites where some ECC classes and other college-related activities are held, drug abuse violation arrests have gone up from three in 2017 to 34 in 2018; weapon violation arrests also went up from zero in 2017 to three in 2018.

While the total number of drug abuse and weapon violations have increased by 38%, El Camino College Police Department (ECCPD) Chief Michael Trevis said the main perpetrators are non-students who come on campus late at night.

“In reviewing the numbers, a lot of this stuff is not our students and not happening during normal school hours,” Trevis said. “Some of this stuff is during the wee hours of the night when we’re all asleep in our beds.”

While there has been an increase in arrests, they may be caused by an increase in reporting and not necessarily by the occurrence of actual crimes, Trevis said.

“Anytime there’s a rise in numbers, I can see that as being a negative,” Trevis said. “I would just say each of these numbers tell a story. I don’t want people to just look at a number and go, ‘Oh my God.’”

All 68 drug abuse violation arrests that have occurred on campus, surrounding campus and at offsite locations in 2018 involved only non-student suspects, Trevis said.

“These are people that were on campus at all hours of the night and our officers stop them and come to find out they had drugs on them or in some cases maybe had a knife,” Trevis said.

Methamphetamine is the most common drug found when non-students are searched; other drugs include marijuana, which is illegal to have on a college campus, heroine and Xanax, Trevis added.

In regard to weapon violation arrests, all were made over the possession of a knife except one arrest in which a suspect had a baton on his person.

Biology major Devin Olsen said that he was not surprised that crime has risen in areas surrounding the ECC campus and he believes that it’s important to be aware of your surroundings.

“Last week, I was walking to Gigi’s and a guy in his 50s started yelling at the bus stop area about some bank robbery,” Olsen said. “I just kept walking, like I didn’t really want to stay near [him].”

Olsen said he saw others around him appear startled from the man’s yelling. He added that he can see how some people would be intimidated to cross the street on Crenshaw Boulevard along the east side of campus.

Communications major Emmanuel Thomas has lived in El Camino Village his whole life and said he hasn’t personally noticed ECC or the area surrounding it worsen over time.

However, witnessing a police presence at ECC makes him feel safe as he commonly sees the same patrol officers on campus when going to his classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, Thomas said.

“It’s good to have students feel safe just because in the society that we’re living in right now there’s a lot of mass shootings going on,” Thomas said. “You never know when it’s going to happen, so I’d rather feel safe than sorry.”

He added that it’s also important for students to pay attention to their surroundings.

“Every time I walk through campus, I see a bunch of people on their phones just like not even observing each other or like which way they’re walking,” he said.

Overall, ECC has a safe campus and its crime and safety is not much different in comparison with other colleges and institutions, Trevis said

“I think we should be judged by the absence of crime and the way to try our best to deal with that is through crime prevention efforts,” Trevis said. “We are continuing to try to increase our presence at various functions. We are talking to people, giving people material and resources on how to prevent crime.

Trevis said that it takes the entire ECC community to make the college safe and people should contact ECCPD if they see anything suspicious.