Gatto Speaks to YWCA on Campus Assault Bill

By Brandon HENSLEY

Calling it a step in the right direction to protect students’ rights, state assemblyman Mike Gatto spoke at the YWCA of Glendale last week in support of a bill that would require college campus law enforcement to report specific crimes, including sexual assault, to the appropriate police and sheriff’s department.

Gatto’s speech was part of a forum presented by the YWCA and the YWCA student club at Glendale Community College. He also took questions afterward.

Bill AB1433 was introduced in Sacramento in January and passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee on April 22, calls for any Part 1 violent crime (willful homicide, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault) to be reported. Gatto’s main points for the bill, though, were mostly about sexual assault.

“If someone has the courage to come forward, we should investigate these crimes and do everything we can to find the perpetrator, to take him or her out of the campus community,” he said.

The victim would also have the right to request that such a report not be passed along to that local law enforcement agency.

Gatto said the impetus for AB1433 came from wanting a better law in place than the Clery Act, which currently requires all state campuses to report crimes once a year. Gatto said schools can underreport these crimes, and recently several media outlets have named USC and Occidental College as two institutions that have done so.

Gatto said this bill would force campuses to disclose all crimes, therefore providing more accurate statistics, and would give parents or students a better look of campus life before they attend classes.

“I think to solve … some of the issues that plague our college campuses, it’s going to take a lot of things,” he said. “It’s going to take attitude adjustments, it’s going to take educational adjustments, cultural adjustments.”

Not every school in California has a sworn police force, but Glendale Community College does. Instead of having campus security, GCC has a memorandum of understand ing (MOU) with the Glendale Police Dept., including Lt. Gary Monticello, who has an office on campus. This should be the standard for all schools in the name of safety and accurate statistics, Gatto said,

“The key is to involve law enforcement because I think they’re in a better position to solve these problems,” he said.

Gatto would like to see the bill go into law by September. Bills take effect a year after they’re signed, but this one has an urgency clause in it, meaning if it gets two-thirds approval on the Senate floor, it can be sent immediately to the governor for him to sign into law.

Normally, Gatto said, he is not for more regulations, but, “It’s really key to set a higher standard of liability.”