Theft Suspect Released After Police Fail to Respond to Call

By
October 14, 2004

Mills College Weekly

A security scare in the admissions office last week raised
questions about the Oakland Police Department’s ability to
respond to incidents on the Mills campus.

The event happened on Dan Brown’s first day as Acting
Director of Public Safety around 2 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 4. Deanie
Donato, Senior Application Specialist, and Linda Guzman, Director
of Graduate Admissions, detained a man recognized to be the person
allegedly responsible for numerous thefts on campus in the past few
years.

He was secured and positively identified after surrendering to
Public Safety without a struggle. The Oakland Police Department was
called immediately at 2:12 p.m.

However, the police department failed to respond after three
hours and six additional calls for help. Public Safety officers
were forced to let the suspect free at the front gate due to a
three hour time limit on how long a suspect can be detained,
according to Brown.

“We did our duty as citizens by detaining him—we
actually caught him—all [the Oakland Police Department] had
to do was come and put him in handcuffs,” said Donato, who
added that she believes that criminals come to Mills because they
know about the security issues on campus.

“We experienced severe cutbacks recently and everything
gets prioritized now,” said Sergeant Ray Petty of the Oakland
Police Department. “Your call may not be quite as important
as the person breaking in down the street. If another priority call
comes in and gets pushed up, you get pushed to the back.”

The suspect lives in the neighborhood and jumps the fence to
avoid passing the Public Safety officers at the front gate,
according to Brown. He said the suspect has not been seen on campus
since the incident.

“Our people are not sworn peace officers,” Brown
said, which means that Public Safety could not have taken the
suspect to the police department themselves.

“We believe we took the best course of action by
positively identifying him without endangering the safety of our
staff or students.”

Brown hopes to establish a line of communication between Mills
and the Oakland Police Department, to prevent similar incidents
from happening in the future.

“This incident showed me that there was quite a
communication gap,” Brown said.

Delano said she feels that the blame lies on the Oakland Police
Department, not Public Safety.

“Public Safety is going overboard and overtime to keep us
safe,” said Delano. “[The Oakland Police Department
has] let us down.”

Delano is composing a letter to send to the San Francisco
Chronicle, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, and the Oakland Chief of
Police regarding the issue.

Petty is currently writing a memo to recommend changes in the
Oakland Police Department’s method of prioritizing calls. He
said, “this shouldn’t have lasted three hours, and for
that I apologize.”

**Correction: Deanie Donato’s last name was misspelled in the
print version and corrected online and in print on Oct. 28.


Theft Suspect Released After Police Fail to Respond to Call was published on October 14, 2004 in News

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