The University Police Department is continuing to update campus security with the addition of 25 new security cameras over the course of the summer and start of the fall semester.
New additions include cameras in the stairwells of North Complex and in parking lot 13 behind the Richardson/Olson residence hall. Along with those additions, cameras in the Al Neuharth Media Center were updated to be higher-definition. As the construction in North Complex is completed, additional cameras will be placed in the new space.
With the new additions, there are approximately 465 cameras located throughout campus. 95 of these cameras are exterior, and 370 cameras are interior.
Lieutenant Jef Rice said new security camera locations are routinely added as more funding becomes available, and the additions and updates are routine practices that UPD performs to be proactive with security and safety.
“We go through and we see where are maybe areas that we want to protect our students and our staff and our faculty and we want to make sure that we have a video presence for those reasons,” Rice said. “It’s a project that’s been going on and every year we try to identify where we’re going to put cameras that we don’t have.”
Rice said the cameras are constantly being monitored but are also referred to after a situation occurs.
“We have them in dispatch, and they are monitored. We have a lot of cameras, so we’re trying to keep an eye on them all at the same time,” he said. “They’re a great tool; sometimes we’ll catch something going on at that time, but most of the time we can go back and see what has happened. They’re useful in both catching and then going back and seeing if an issue has arisen.”
Jacob Holmberg, a sophomore studying criminal justice, said he doesn’t have a problem with the increased security.
“It is comforting,” Holmberg said. “They are watching if things happen, and when things happen, they have a way to go back and look at exactly what happened with the footage.”
Rice said the cameras are primarily used for non-criminal activity.
“We’ll get things like thefts and mislaid property… a lot of it is about somebody lost something, maybe we can go back and see where it’s at on camera, or maybe who picked it up and turned it in,” Rice said. “It’s really more of a safety issue than a crime-solving tool.”
Rhiannon Kusler, a sophomore studying medical biology, said she completely agrees with UPD’s decision to add more cameras around campus.
“I am 100 percent for this,” Kusler said. “I think that it definitely would improve your safety… with more cameras to make sure that there’s not hit-and-runs if someone hits your car, or knowing when I leave my stuff on my table (in the MUC) that it’s going to be safe. It is great to have added security for the school.”
Rice said security cameras are only located in public, common areas.
“Obviously they are not in private areas, but they’re in a lot of common areas… Cameras do not capture the interior of the dorm rooms or apartments,” he said. “Cameras are placed in ‘common’ areas throughout campus (such as) stairwells, lobbies, outdoor spaces and academic buildings.”
Kusler said she believes that security cameras are a necessity for public areas.
“You’re almost always on camera in any public space in my opinion; any smart public space will have cameras, especially if it’s a place of business where people are likely to go,” she said. “There’s going to be cameras; it’s a part of daily life. It’s just how it is.”