New legislation recently introduced to the state Assembly would appropriate about $1.3 million for security measures at UC Merced, a direct response to the knife attacks on campus in November.
The bill was introduced by 21st District Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, who said the legislation would not outline what the exact security measures should be. That would be left up to campus officials.
UC Merced was put in the spotlight on Nov. 4, when Faisal Mohammad, a freshman from Santa Clara, entered his morning class with a 10-inch knife, a backpack filled with zip-tie handcuffs, duct tape and, in his pocket, a point-by-point script for a deadly attack, law enforcement told reporters.
The 18-year-old computer science student wounded four people before being killed by campus police.
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“What that brought to our attention is UC Merced didn’t have the same level of safety resources that some of the other campuses had,” Gray said Tuesday. “That’s exactly at the origin of why we’re doing this is to bring that up to a comparable level of support.”
What that brought to our attention is UC Merced didn’t have the same level of safety resources that some of the other campuses had.
Adam Gray, D-Merced, 21st District state Assemblyman
He noted the 10-year-old campus is growing, and it lacks some security-related measures.
“Whenever you’re starting a new campus, you’re struggling to maintain the resources to grow the campus,” he said. “We continue to push hard for every additional opportunity.”
The knife attack rattled the 6,600-student campus and shocked the Merced community, which responded with candlelight vigils and other gatherings in an attempt to heal and regain a sense of normalcy.
Patti Waid, a campus spokeswoman, also noted that the campus is relatively young. “During the initial growth of the UC Merced campus, some areas related to safety were under-resourced and, therefore, we do not presently have the same safety equipment as our sister UC campuses,” she said in a statement.
Officials would look to use the funding, assuming it makes it to law, to purchase devices that would help emergency responders evacuate people from buildings; automated external defibrillators with training equipment; and mobile traffic message boards, among other equipment.
The university continues to work with the FBI to complete an investigation, according to campus officials.
During the initial growth of the UC Merced campus, some areas related to safety were under-resourced and, therefore, we do not presently have the same safety equipment as our sister UC campuses.
Patti Waid, a UC Merced campus spokeswoman, in a statement
A separate investigation completed into the fatal shooting found that Mohammad posed an imminent threat and that Officer Olaf Lopez appropriately used deadly force to stop him, according to a statement released in December by District Attorney Larry D. Morse II.
Mohammad was shot after he stabbed two students, a university staff member and a private contractor during a violent spree that authorities said was fueled by anger at other students. The four victims were wounded and treated at local hospitals. Campus police opened fire on Mohammad after he lunged at them with a large knife, Morse said.
The proposed legislation also includes language that would give the Merced County Sheriff more flexibility for assigning deputies, Gray said. The county has 21 unfilled deputy positions.