After the bookstore thief, how secure is MCCC?

Bill Myers, head of security at MCCC, is sitting in his office in the A building when the phone rings.

It’s one of the dozen or so inquiries a day he receives from students, employees and other members of the college community.

“Everybody sees something,” he says. “Usually it turns out to be nothing.”

According to Myers, MCCC is a smaller community college with few serious security issues. Since January of 2009, a total of 11 larcenies have been reported, including four thefts from vehicles in parking lots and five from lockers in the Health building.

“By and large, we are pretty lucky here,” Myers said.

The thefts range in severity and location.

In one instance, a student who made off with a pack of cookies was nabbed by Randy Daniels, vice president of Student Affairs. In another, an unidentified subject made off with more than $8,000 in merchandise from the bookstore.

The suspect took merchandise from the bookstore in three separate incidents during spring break week.

Myers is not sure that they could have been avoided.

“I don’t think that if we were standing in there a couple of times it could have been prevented,” Myers said.

Since the bookstore theft in March, campus security and the staff at the bookstore have taken precautions to prevent future issues.

“They (bookstore staff) pretty much got it, you know, when this happened,” Myers said.

“I’ve always said that you have to be a little more aware of your surroundings and what’s going on.”

A bell now sounds when students enter the store.

The layout has been shifted to allow for easier visibility of higher priced items by workers behind the counter.

“I think we are better off than we were before,” Myers said.

Bookstore director Jean Ford also said the staff is looking into extra cameras and a security system, but is not sure it will help in preventing future thefts.

“I don’t think that there’s any way you can prevent it from happening. You hope it won’t happen,” Ford said.

One of the issues is that bookstore workers may not have known what to do after they witnessed a theft.

In the case of the theft in March, workers attempted to detain the subject by distracting him, talking to him, and treating him like they would a regular customer while they waited for security, Ford said.

The suspect was able to leave before security arrived.

Ford says workers are to call security immediately as well as try to detain the person.

MCCC has its own contracted security force.

“I’m a strong believer in that you should have your own security because then you have control over your own people,” Myers said.

The security staff consists of five members on main campus and one at the Whitman Center. All of the security staff members have some police experience.

None of the security staff members are full-time employees.

“Everybody can work when they want to work and it makes for a happier situation,” Myers said.

Sandy Kosmyna, director of the Whitman Center, is confident in the security situation at the Temperance campus.

“I do feel like there’s good backup if we ever need it at the Whitman Center,” Kosmyna said.

“I think that our campus is relatively safe.”

The Whitman Center has not had many instances where security staff were necessary, Kosmyna said.

The I.D. camera, which was about 15 years old, was stolen in September. And there have been a few distressed students and classroom thefts, according to Kosmyna.

If a student sees something suspicious, Myers suggests they contact an officer and fill out a form, relaying the facts. Then an officer will check out the incident.

“I would like to see more of students saying, ‘This guy’s creeping me out,'” Myers said.

Myers also advises that every student should have an I.D. Since it is not mandatory, many students do not get them, which could be a safety issue, Myers said.