Just before the start of the fall semester, University Police and Residence Life and Housing made a new addition of 101 surveillance cameras to the residence halls across campus. These cameras were installed outside every entrance, exit and in every elevator and main lobby in all residence halls with the exception of Waterbury Hall and Scales Hall, which will be going through major renovations in the future. Last week the cameras became operational and phase two in security measures was completed University Police expect improvement in student conduct.
Before the newly installed cameras this semester, there were five cameras in the tunnel connecting Lakeside Dining Hall to Riggs Hall, four cameras in the tunnel between Seneca Hall and Cayuga Hall and four cameras in the tunnels connecting Oneida Hall and Onondaga Hall. Additional cameras are located in the parking office and the University Police Department to complete a sum of 134 cameras across campus.
“Last year we had a vandalism problem in the tunnels between the dining halls on west campus,” said University Police Chief John Rossi. “Since cameras were installed there the incidents have dropped from dozens a month to about one every six months.”
University Police emphasized that even the newly installed cameras are not on the floors or any private area.
The intention of increasing the amount of surveillance cameras this semester is to make the residence hall a safer and more secure environment for students as well as reducing the amount of vandalism to school property.
“It is a proven crime deterrent,” Chief
Rossi said. “Cameras will help us identify persons of interest, and allow us to provide enhanced services to our community.”
A second year resident assistant, Gabriel Smith from Oneida Hall said he supports the addition of cameras.
“Cameras are a new thing for me, being that my first year [as a Resident Assistant] was spent in Waterbury, we didn’t have cameras there, so it is a completely new concept to me. I think they serve very useful purposes, being that they can combat a lot of destructive incidence with students,” Smith said. “I think ResLife has to be careful on where they apply the cameras. But I also feel like security cameras have become a part of everyday modern life. Whether they are in banks, street corners, traffic lights, police cars, cameras are everywhere now. It has sort of become a standard fact in everyday life.”
Roger Morrison, a sophomore resident in Onondaga Hall said that anymore of a reach into residence halls would be a stretch too far. “I feel that the cameras are a good idea and could prevent people from making our buildings dirty but I feel that it is too far if they are being recorded in the [residence] halls,” Morrison said.
As apart of a strict policy, University Police is not permitted to ever install cameras in private areas or for specific reason such as personnel issues or for parking violations. The cameras are strictly used for criminal use only.
In the University Police Department, the camera monitors scroll through screens at dispatch. They are under surveillance, although they are mainly used for DVR purposes and looked at only when a crime is committed. University Police also monitor areas where officers are responding to calls such as fire alarms or medical emergencies.
Once an incident occurs there is a process in order to review the security cameras. Initially when an incident in the residence halls is documented with a time frame in which it occurred, University Police compares it to the specific date, time and location in order to make an accurate identification. Once the footage is recognized it is downloaded to a hard drive, burned onto a disc and sealed as evidence until it is requested for court and reviewed
According to Chief Rossi, a female was recently struck by a car and left at the scene in the front of Seneca Hall. With different descriptions from witnesses about the make and model of the suspect’s vehicle, University Police were able to review the footage from the newly installed exterior camera and find the exact make and model of the suspect’s car. The police found the car and the driver, who was then charged with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident. The victim sustained a leg injury and was sent to the hospital.
Phase one of security included the installation of cameras in the tunnels. Now that phase two is completed there is discussion of phase three with the addition of cameras on walkways and parking lots.
“We are happy to have these tools that enhance our ability to provide a safe environment,” Chief Rossi said. “As technology changes and becomes less costly, we need to use it to our advantage. Just about everywhere you go, from stores, malls, schools, roads and bridges are now using video.”