Security upgrades at South Bay college years behind

Southwestern College upgrading campus safety

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - Southwestern College in Chula Vista is undergoing $5 million worth of safety upgrades, but the only problem is that those upgrades are several years behind.

More than 20,000 students study at the South Bay college. A vast majority of them consider it a safe place.

"I've felt pretty safe here on campus," said second year student Brandon Diaz. "I've never seen anything bad happen."

In the next few months, the school will be even safer. The 50-year-old institution is installing dozens of emergency towers and a system to proactively call students and faculty members in case of an emergency situation. The safety systems have been on other local campuses for years.

"We're putting layer on top of layer of safeguards so we can make our community as safe as possible," said new Southwestern College Police Chief Michael Cash. 

Cash said he is working closely with the school's administration by revamping the emergency operations plan and the school's evacuation plan.

"That'll give a lot of feeling of safety and security for all of our community members," said Cash.

Oddly enough, Southwestern College always had an emergency operations plan but the communication between campus leaders was so poor that no one knew about it.

In 2010, English professor Andrew Rempt told 10News it had been at least seven years since there was a campus-wide drill. Cash said a well-documented bad relationship between the school's old president, Dr. Raj Chopra, the campus police and the faculty union derailed campus safety plans. 

Campus leaders said that has all changed under new president Melinda Nish.

"I have a president/superintendent that told me day one, 'This is priority. Let's get this done,'" said Cash.

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