University considers security cameras
The robberies that took place on and near the Washington University campus throughout this past semester placed a renewed spotlight on the issue of campus safety. The Safety and Security Committee, composed of students and members of the administration, is currently discussing whether to recommend that security cameras be installed in certain areas on campus.
Sophomore Michael Sorenson, who was robbed at knifepoint in November, is spearheading the effort. He gave a presentation on security cameras to the Student Union Senate.
“Cameras would help with solving cases,” said Sorenson.
He pointed out that a security camera on Snow Way, where he was robbed, might have allowed police to get the license plate number of his assailants, facilitating the process of catching them.
Chief of Police Don Strom agreed that cameras can be beneficial.
“Video cameras can be a valuable tool,” said Strom, while noting that the issue of security cameras is a complicated one.
The University has over 100 buildings, and to cover all the outdoor areas of campus would require hundreds of cameras. If the insides of buildings were also to be covered, the number would skyrocket. Also, additional equipment would be required to maintain and watch the cameras.
In addition, cameras raise issues of privacy on campus.
“Philosophically, [the administration] has determined that they don’t want people feeling like they’re being watched,” said Strom.
He added that cameras can have their place. Cameras on campus could be set to activate only when motion is detected at unusual times, such as very late at night, or could be used passively. Police investigators could replay footage of a crime to gain evidence, but the cameras would not be actively monitored.
Cameras would be very useful “from an investigative standpoint,” said Strom.
Student reactions to the idea of having security cameras were mixed.
Holly Allen, a junior, felt that the best way to prevent crime would be to hire more officers.
“I don’t think [cameras] would change anything,” said Allen. “You need more people.”
Some students, however, like the idea of security cameras.
“I think [security cameras] would be a good deterrent,” said freshman Matthew Hayes. He added that he thought the South 40 was safer than the Village, since the Village is smaller, making it “more of a target.”
Ray Grimes, a parent of a University student, agreed.
“You’re going to need more people to fix things,” said Grimes.
The best way to prevent crime, said Grimes, is for students to “play it smart,” and use common sense to avoid exposing themselves to crime.
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