Hannah Reel reporter
Over the past few weeks, several reports of criminal activity have been made on and around campus. This has created overwhelming concern for the safety of faculty and students. In response to this, Student Life and the Pitt State Campus Police Department have begun to place new surveillance cameras around campus.
“We have had surveillance cameras for several years. These cameras have been older generation technology with a limited number of opportunities, that they could be used for,” said Dr. Steve Erwin, vice president of Student Life.
PSU Campus Police and Student Life noticed that, prior to getting new surveillance cameras, the older models did not provide clear images for information or adequate details of information to solve criminal activity. The new, updated system includes 360-degree views and can pan, tilt, and zoom both in and out on locations. They can be in parking lots, near walking paths, by resident halls entrances, near streets, and on campus buildings.
“UPD dispatches and officers can view all of the cameras on large monitors in our dispatch center,” said Stu Hite, chief of the Pitt State Campus Police Department. “We’re setting up maps of campus that will allow a dispatcher or officer to click on a camera location and go immediately to that view. We will also set up multiple views of clusters of cameras with high traffic and pedestrian flow. We have formed a solid partnership with the Pittsburg Police department and will share footage in the event one of our cameras captures an auto accident or some other incident that is helpful in an investigation.”
The funding for the surveillance cameras is in the vicinity of $100,000. Some of this funding came from the 2020 year-end university funds, which were not utilized as much as planned in the given budget. In addition, some of the funding came from incidents that occurred during the 2019-2020 Covid-19 school year. This created a year-end balance that was healthier to use on other applications of the PSU campus. Outside vendors and the Pitt State purchasing office were used in selecting the products and installation sites.
Around campus, students seem to have conflicting views on this issue.
“As a new student on campus, I feel safer,” said Hailey Henderson, a freshman majoring in Exercise Science. “We get emails from the campus police department on occasions talking about sexual assaults and car thefts. I believe that the surveillance cameras are very good to help with situations as I listed. I feel safer because of them. It doesn’t bother me, as much, with more cameras around housing areas. I think it will allow students to be more cautious of what they are doing and how they do the action.”
Amaya Harris, a junior majoring in Business Management and Marketing, also expressed her feelings towards the issue.
“It seems cool and allows students to know that they are getting detected around campus,” said Harris. “Although, as a student living on campus the past three years, I believe the money for the surveillance cameras could have been split on different issues that students face living on campus. In addition, students’ feedback was not asked or given before putting the new cameras on and around campus. I do have an uneasy feeling that I am constantly being watched and would have liked to be notified before school began.”
Pittsburg State takes the safety and security of faculty and students very seriously and wants our campus to be as safe as possible. UPD will continue to add new cameras and replace old ones as needed.