Campus security to experiment with placing cameras on campus

fine arts center under construction

Written by Jeannette Jones and Zahnell Pinnock

The Queens Campus Police Department will be testing new security cameras in the Gambrell Center after it opens in January 2020.  

Raymond Thrower, assistant vice president of Queens’ Public Safety & Campus Police, explained how the department is testing new CCTV security cameras, which will allow them to install more affordable ones in the fine arts center. 

The cameras will be installed in the interior and exterior of the building. Along with this, there will also be a “strategic” card access system installed. The department is also ensuring that this security camera won’t require an expensive storage fee, which is a major issue since the reason Queens didn’t have cameras in advance was because they had iCloud-based storage. 

“It was unbelievably costly, similar to how much people pay to store their documents on Apple iCloud,” Lesia Finney, Queens’ chief of police, said. However, the cost has reduced since there have been several cameras tested and competition between companies has increased. 

These CCTV cameras that campus security is currently testing are high-definition, POE IP cameras, which receive their electrics on a low voltage that travels through a CAT 6 line. “So, you’re looking at a computer line, while in the old cameras, you had to run a separate line for power, like plugging your phone in an outlet,” Thrower shared.

Another idea that has since been postponed, was also conducting a test-site of these cameras at the new Northwest Residence Hall, which was finished just in time for the Fall 2019 semester. The plan was to have two cameras facing towards both entrances of Northwest, so security could observe who’s coming in the building.

The reason is because people can come on campus and piggyback in with other students, Thrower explained. Normally, students won’t question people they don’t know, so that’s how suspects may be able to get inside.

Also, Queens Residence Life and Housing wanted two cameras on the first floor of Northwest that were facing down the hallway. “That’s not unusual because college campuses across the world are starting to put cameras in residence halls,” said Thrower.

Campus security hopes the cameras assist from a forensic standpoint of view, as well as porvide a proactive approach to solving crimes. They do not have a 24-hour dispatch center, so phones go to Campus Police officers after hours.

However, Thrower stated that even if college campuses have a 24-hour dispatch center, their monitors will become complacent after 15 minutes of observing them. He also provided an example of a Youtube video study that demonstrated an individual running and dancing across the hallway in a gorilla suit while being completely unaware of the cameras capturing them. 

The implementation of cameras have helped clear a lot of cases at other colleges around the country, such as breaking and entering and burglary in residence halls. Finney even conveyed that during her previous position at Wake Forest University, cameras have helped identify students that caused destruction in their residence hall buildings. 

One time, there was a female student who reported her purse being stolen after she left it in the common area of her residence hall to get something from her dorm room. Fortunately, they were able to utilize their security cameras to identify the person who stole it, arrest them and return the purse to the student. 

Along with common areas, there are several institutions installing cameras in the hallways of their residence hall buildings. Thrower explained they’re pointing them down the hallway, so they can view any problems that are occuring, which range from vandalism to sexual or aggravated assault. 

Therefore, installing these CCTV cameras are a cost effective way to help deter crime, reduce crime and document crime. Thrower also said that it’s another tool in the law enforcement toolbox.

In the future, there are plans to install more cameras in other buildings around campus. While the main concern is cost,  there are many ways students can stay safe despite this. The most important being to report to Campus Police immediately after you’ve witnessed an incident. A problem Thrower and Finney faced were reports coming in days or weeksafter something had occurred. Because of this, they advise that it’s crucial to report an incident as soon as possible. 

Also, Queens assigns each of their resource officers to a specific residence hall building. Finney explained that they’re assigned to enter and talk with students about safety concerns that they might harbor. 

“We think safety is a shared responsibility, so we work together to come up with ideas to make this a safer campus,” said Finney.

For example, there were some students in the Barnhardt Residence Hall that were concerned about the pedestrian crosswalk, so campus security taught them about safety precautions that they should utilize while crossing the street.

Even if there are not cameras everywhere, there are always different ways to educate people on how to be responsible for their own safety, since the police can’t be everywhere at one time. 

“There’s only a few of us, but there’s a lot of [students]. So it’s really important that we all work together. This is our community,” Thrower said. 

To get in contact with Campus Police, call 704-337-2306. 

, , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.