By Ken Lester, Managing Editor
November 17, 2022
During meetings held by the Laney Career Technical Education Advisory Committee (LCTEAC) and the Laney College Faculty Senate on Nov. 14 and 15, respectively, both shared governance bodies passed resolutions to censure current Peralta Community College District (PCCD) Director of Public Safety Tim Thomas.
The censure resolutions cited Thomas’ “lack of consultation, collaboration, transparent planning processes and communication” in regards to recent safety issues including auto thefts and property crimes on PCCD campuses.
In an email to The Citizen, LCTEAC Co-Chair Karl Seelbach said that the censure was passed in an attempt to hold district leadership accountable and encourage them to “acknowledge mistakes, be more transparent, and create an action plan to provide better outcomes for the safety on campus and parking lots, and also to implement communication protocols in the event of an emergency on campus.”
A censure does not include any formal consequences, and exists more as a symbolic action. The Laney College Faculty Senate previously passed a censure resolution against Laney College President Rudy Besikof in February 2021.
In an Oct.19 memo sent to Thomas following two auto thefts from the Laney College parking lot, the LCTEAC posed questions to Thomas regarding the district’s safety plan.
“Although it is understandable that this new district security model has some kinks to work out, we are concerned that there are still major gaps in the implementation of a safety plan that will keep our community safe. Even more troubling is the lack of communication,” the memo noted.
In its list of questions to Thomas, the LCTEAC requested information about the security cameras on the Laney College campus – which of them were operational, and when non-operational cameras would be repaired.
In an email response to the memo, Thomas declined to go into detail.
“We have operational security cameras throughout the Laney campus and parking areas. As a matter of public safety, we’d prefer not to get into specifics on this particular topic. Please know that considerable work has been done and will continue to upgrade our video coverage,” Thomas said.
In addition to what the Faculty Senate and LCTEAC called an “inadequate” response to their questions, the legislative bodies also expressed concern stemming from an active shooter training presentation hosted by Thomas via ZOOM on Oct. 19, writing in the censure resolution that attendees of the training “did not learn anything about the district or campus protocols around an active shooter.”
During the presentation, Thomas showed a slide listing notable school shootings throughout American history, and took a moment to acknowledge his “good friend” Rob Young, who was a victim of the 1989 Cleveland School Shooting.
“Shout out to Robbie for being one of the victims in this shooting of five killed, 32 injured,” Thomas said.
Thomas went on to offer a Starbucks gift card to whoever in the audience could “name the state that has the number one mass casualty [sic],” and later suggested that Peralta students and faculty could use campus fire extinguishers as weapons to defend themselves against an active shooter.
“One of the main things we have is fire extinguishers, right? We got those fire extinguishers – sometimes that’s all you may have in a corridor or in a classroom. And so, we’re just saying: improvise, be a team player, work with each other to take down the assailant if you need to,” Thomas said, at one point pantomiming as if he were using a fire extinguisher as a weapon.
Thomas, who was hired by PCCD in November 2021, is currently awaiting a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Dec.15 after pleading not guilty to misdemeanor charges of battery, elder abuse, and grand theft stemming from a May 6, 2022 altercation with an RV resident near the district offices.
The Citizen reached out to Thomas for comment regarding the censures, but at the time of publication, no response was received.