Thursday, June 20

Daytime attacks rouse public anxiety


Daytime attacks rouse public anxiety

UCPD advises students to use caution, remain alert at all times
of day

By Ramona M. Ortega

Amid the lunchtime hustle and bustle, a man set out last Tuesday
from Wilshire for a routine walk into Westwood Village.

As he turned onto La Conte Avenue from Westwood Boulevard,
another man walking down the street passed by and punched him,
continuing down the street to catch the Santa Monica bus.

This lunchtime break left the man with more than an empty
stomach. He had a swollen nose and broken glasses.

Witnesses said the victim was dazed and confused after colliding
with a pole and breaking his eyeglasses.

Both the Los Angeles.Police Department and the UC Police
Department were called to the scene at 1:06 p.m. A UCPD police log
describes the alleged attacker as a 200 pound male.

The incident took place in broad daylight while the attacker
left the scene unapproached ­ a reminder that people are
hesitant about getting involved with volatile situations.

"I don’t think I’d get involved with most attacks because it’s
not really any of my business. If it looks really bad, I would call
for help. I hope someone would help me, but I know most people
don’t feel like getting involved" said Joyce Kim, a third-year
geography student.

Although this incident took place in a public area, most random
attacks happen at night, in lightly populated areas.

A similar random attack took place March 24 on the UCLA
campus.

A student returning to her dorm in Hedrick Hall got punched in
the face by a man who immediately ran off. She was about 30 feet
from Hedrick’s back door. The student, who wished to remain
anonymous, sustained a cracked nose and needed stitches.

This incident and the one in Westwood are apparently not
related, and there is no indication of an increase in random
assaults, said Det. Leo Del Rosario.

"With more people being on edge it’s important to be more aware
of your surroundings because it could be as simple as being in the
wrong place at the wrong time," Del Rosario said.

Although many students feel safe on campus, there is always room
for caution.

"I feel safe on campus, but feeling too comfortable gives a
false sense of security," admits Jennifer McAfee, an undeclared
third-year student.

In the evening, UCLA Community Service Officers (CSOs) can be
seen riding bicycles around campus and escorting people to their
destinations. Despite the presence of CSOs, their policy is
restricted to dispatching police services and not intervention.

"We receive extensive radio training, and that is our weapon. We
have direct communication with the UCPD dispatcher, for fire,
paramedics and all response teams," said Jason Pak, Community
Service Officer field operations coordinator.

"Our official policy is not to intervene, only to observe and
keep dispatch updated. In our 23-year history, we have never had a
problem and have a 100 percent safety record," Pak said.

Prevention seems to be the key in avoiding dangerous
altercations. Officer Tracy Collinsworth, support services lead
officer, will give safety presentations to any group that asks and
will be holding a presentation in the North West Auditorium May 16
for the general student body.

UCPD support services is also creating a guide to personal
police resources coming out in the fall. Immediately available is a
quick reference on how to be an accurate eyewitness.

"If someone looked as if they were in danger and there was no
weapon visible, I’d try to stop it regardless ­ especially
around here where I don’t feel very threatened," said Sam Ceballos,
a third-year anthropology student.

Public apathy toward involvement in violent crimes is common,
and precautions should always be taken, but just how engaged should
a citizen become?

Capt. Terry Baker of the UCPD explains that the best way to help
at a crime scene without putting yourself at harm is to be a good
witness.

"Make specific observations. As a citizen, you have no
responsibility to become involved," Baker said. "I don’t advocate
that people intervene in an altercation because they don’t know how
it might reflect upon them."

Police suggest that ultimately getting involved in situations is
a personal choice and no citizen is obligated to get involved. They
suggest that the the most useful thing to do is "diffuse the
hostility" and call for help. A criminal does not want to be
identified so the more people around, the safer the situation
becomes.

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