Arizona Community College Looks to Boost Security

Tim Goral's picture

The governing board of the Maricopa County Community College District is set to consider a tuition increase that would pay for more security at its many campuses.

If the board approves the proposal on Tuesday, the increase would raise the per-credit-hour cost from $76 to $81 for the next school year, The Arizona Republic reported.

Police Chief Mikel Longman, who runs the system's public safety department, is seeking $2 million to increase his staff by 50 percent with 23 new certified, armed officers.

"It's a basic assumption that when we're open for business, we'll have armed police officers," he said.

Longman was hired last year to consolidate the 10 colleges' public safety units. His plan would add one or two officers to each campus. Currently, some smaller satellite campuses don't have any officers while the main campuses have anywhere from three to six officers.

The most recent crime statistics for the campuses show there were no murders, robberies or arsons in 2011. However, there were numerous burglaries, vehicle thefts, weapons violations and sexual assaults as well as nearly 400 larcenies, which would include phone and bike thefts.

Longman said he also wants to reduce reliance on part-time security aides who write parking tickets, monitor surveillance cameras and escort people after dark. He said the aides aren't reliable in showing up for shifts.

"We give our keys to our kingdom to minimum wage, minimally trained employees, and if something bad happens to our property, it hurts our ability to deliver education," he told the governing board last month.

The community colleges in May will also seek an increase in the property-tax levy that would generate an additional $8.1 million. In addition to bolstering security, the colleges want to add 32 full-time professors and update technology. The colleges are also looking to spend $5 million on two ongoing programs to improve efficiency in registration and financial aid and students' graduation and transfer rates.

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