Bathroom bandit incident reveals flaws in campus alert system

Valentine’s Day marked the first robbery at SPSCC in the last seven years, according to the Director of Security Lonnie Hatman, and students were not alerted until four days after the incident. A student reported a robbery in the restrooms of Building 27 near the campus bookstore at 10 a.m. on Feb. 14.

The campus alert system, which sends text messages and emails to students who have signed up, did not send out an alert until four days after the situation on Feb. 18. Hatman was the only one with access to the alert system and was not on campus the day of the incident, so the alert was unable to be sent out.

Since the incident, every security officer has been given access to the alert system to provide students with faster alerts when emergency situations or dangerous incidents occur or are reported.

“The suspect confronted the victim and demanded money,” Hatman said, “the suspect wasn’t armed with any weapons, but threatened the victim with physical violence.” The student gave the suspect money and then the suspect left peacefully. There was no comment on how much money was taken.

The suspect is still at large and is described as a 6-foot tall white male with an average build and wearing blue jeans and a dark shirt. Whether or not the suspect is a student at SPSCC is unknown. There is no additional information regarding the suspect’s description.

Hatman stated that it can be difficult to tell anyone what to do in situations like this. “Everyone’s comfort level with confrontation is different,” he said. “Some people would not dream of resisting, screaming or doing anything else. Some people wouldn’t put up with it at all, they would be tackling, punching, and trying to run away,” Hatman explained, “it’s safer when you’re not putting yourself in a situation like that.”

Hatman suggests that if students were to carry anything to prevent situations, it should be a whistle. They are loud, draw attention, and can be used while walking or running away from a dangerous situation. Other items for self defense can be taken away from a victim and then turned against them. Most self defense items cannot be used while retreating, said Hatman. “Having a general awareness of their surroundings can really help to keep individuals out of dangerous situations,” he said.

Hatman warns students who have concealed weapon permits on campus: “Be very aware of your justification and follow state law.” Hatman suggests that all students should retreat from dangerous situations if they are carrying a weapon and are capable of retreating.

The security office is working on expanding their reporting ability for students through Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging. Security is here to provide a safe learning environment for students, offering services of escorting students to their vehicles or classes if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe by themselves. Students are encouraged to sign up for the E2Campus Alert system on the college’s website.