District officials minimize increase and struggle to explain lack of progress on safety advisory committee

By David Rowe, Associate Editor

November 3, 2022

The figures in the latest Clery report show a 148% increase in reported crimes at the Peralta Community College District (PCCD) campuses in 2021. While presenting the report to the Board of Trustees at its Oct. 25 meeting, Tim Thomas, the district’s Director of Public Safety, described the higher number of crimes as “just a slight increase.”

Colleges and universities receiving Federal funding are legally required to issue an annual updated Clery report. The report provides a tally of crimes and arrests across seven major categories. Congress passed the Clery Act in 1990 following the rape and murder of Jeanne Clery, a freshman at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. 

With fewer students on campus in 2021 due to the pandemic, crimes against property (auto theft, larceny, burglary, and arson) showed the biggest jump in the latest Clery report. A total of 49 crimes in these categories were reported in 2021 compared to just 19 in 2020, representing an increase of 158%.  

Property crimes (2019-2021)

YearLarcenyBurglaryAuto TheftArson TOTAL
% increase (2021 vs 2020)550%110%700%17%158%

Source: PCCD 2022 Clery Report update

There were relatively few crimes against people in 2021 with the exception of five cases of assault and battery, up from three in 2020. While crime has increased at PCCD, the number of arrests dropped from five in 2020 to just two in 2021, according to the Clery report. 

Crimes against people (2019-2021)

YearRapeFondlingAssault & BatteryDomestic violenceStalkingTOTAL
% increase (2021 vs 2020)N/M0%67%N/MN/M133%

Source: PCCD 2022 Clery Report update

Among the four colleges in the Peralta system, the Clery report showed Laney had the highest number of total crimes in 2021. There were 44 incidents on that campus compared to 18 the previous year, an increase of 144%. 

Laney represented 77% of the 2021 incidents in the PCCD Clery report compared to 78% in 2020. Merritt had four criminal incidents in 2021, up from just one in 2020. There was also a significant increase in reported crimes at the district offices (six incidents, up from just two the previous year).  College of Alameda had three incidents in 2021 and Berkeley City College (BCC) maintained its perfect record of no crimes reported for the last three years. 

Total crimes by campus (2019-2021)

YearLaneyMerrittCollege of AlamedaBCCDistrict OfficeTOTAL
2019 220   024  
202018  2 0  23
202144   43   0 57
% increase 

(2021 vs 2020)

144%   300%50%   N/M200% 148%

Source: PCCD 2022 Clery Report update. Includes drug possession

During his presentation to the board, Thomas transitioned from the crime statistics to the steps he described as “the solution to the numbers you are seeing.” These included improved lighting on the Laney campus, increased use of surveillance cameras, and implementation of keyless entry doors and entry badges. Thomas stated that the keyless entry doors will “reduce the incidents” of property crimes such as arson and burglary. 

Thomas was appointed to his post in November of 2021. The position was previously held on an interim basis by Paul Llanez, the CEO of Knowledge Saves Lives, a Modesto-based security consulting firm. Llanez was listed as the co-author of the latest Clery report, and according to the agenda, was supposed to present the findings with Thomas, but was not present. 

An item in Thomas’ presentation that caught the attention of Trustee Nicky González Yuen was the establishment of a Holistic Safety, Security & Wellness Advisory Committee. Yuen initially asked Thomas about the status of the committee but directed his subsequent questions directly to Interim Chancellor Jannett Jackson. 

Yuen asked Jackson when the committee was scheduled to meet, if all the appointments had been made, and if not, what was holding things up.   

Jackson replied that no appointments had yet been made due to a lack of nominations from shared governance groups.   

Mark Johnson, Executive Director of Marketing, Communications, and Public Relations for PCCD, sent an email to the Peralta community on Oct. 18 asking for nominations to the committee.  

“Self-nominations are acceptable,” Johnson wrote in his email. Despite the expanded outreach efforts, the only nomination received as of Oct. 25 was from the Safety Committee at Laney college, according to Jackson. 

Yuen expressed disappointment at the lack of progress in establishing the committee. 

“We’re on the cutting edge of trying to do something very different. That’s going to take a level of leadership that I am personally not seeing yet,” he said to Jackson. 

Jackson reacted by asking Yuen and the other trustees for help in reaching out to the shared governance leaders and asking for their nominations to the advisory committee. Yuen said he was not comfortable getting so deeply involved in operational details since he sees policy as his “lane.” 

The exchange ended with Jackson repeating the words “help me” several times while Yuen suggested they continue the discussion in a non-public setting following the meeting.

While the Clery report does not include any incidents for the calendar year 2022, Johnson provided The Citizen with copies of the monthly Campus Safety Reports for the period from January-September 2022. 

The categories of crime included in the monthly reports differ somewhat from those in the annual report – both reports include burglary, auto theft, and arson, however. There were a total of 21 incidents district-wide in those three categories for the first nine months of 2022 compared to 36 for the full year of 2021.