In response to a string of crime near campus during the 2012-13 academic year, Boston University President Robert Brown has called for an increased concentration of security cameras across BU’s Charles River Campus and Medical Campus, said BUPD Deputy Director of Public Safety Scott Paré.
Paré said the new cameras will be pan-tilt rather than stationary, and thus will be capable of remote directional and zoom control from BUPD’s headquarters. The cameras’ views will span 180 degrees so dispatchers can monitor a large area at one time.
“These cameras are going to be used to enhance the safety and the security of this community,” Paré said. “They are only in public areas where, quite often, police are visible anyways. This just gives us an opportunity to look at a greater area and if something happens we have the ability to go back and look … It’s not to attack anybody’s privacy.”
Installation of the cameras is an ongoing process that should be completed in the next few months, he said.
Paré said BU has had cameras in place around campus for much time. They were particularly useful in assisting policemen find the suspects responsible for a string of armed robberies and a stabbing on or near campus in the 2012-13 academic year.
“Though cameras have long been in place on BU’s campus, the success in solving the [stabbing] incident prompted BU President Robert Brown to call for increased security across the Charles River and Medical Campuses,” Paré said.
Despite the concerns of some students, new cameras are not intended to look for students taking part in their everyday or nighttime activities, said BUPD Dispatcher Rich Churchill. He said since bike thefts have been a regular occurrence on campus, the increased security should come as a great relief to BU’s large biker community.
Paré said the security cameras are multi-purpose as they can help BUPD officials assess traffic during major campus events, and help dispatchers monitor the location of a traffic incident before officers arrive to the scene.
Churchill said other common theft-targeted areas, such as dormitory laundry rooms, will be monitored by the new cameras.
“All I’m looking for is someone suspicious,” Churchill said. “Say I see a guy who is obviously not a student, maybe an older guy, with a backpack walking through bike racks — he’ll do a couple loops, and he might be robbing somebody’s bike.”
Duncan Edward, a School of Management junior, said many students feel unsafe on South Campus, especially near the Blandford Street stairs, and on West Campus, so the increase in cameras may ease many student’s safety concerns.
“In parts of campus, it’s [the increase in cameras] are necessary … as long as it’s in a public area and as long as it benefits the general community,” Duncan said. “I don’t think every corner of BU needs a camera, but they are definitely needed further out in West Campus.”
Shannon Almeida, a SMG senior, said although the increased concentration of security cameras seems like a good idea, she wonders if they serve a real purpose as they will not necessarily prevent any crimes from happening.
“Honestly, cameras don’t prevent anything — it just helps you find out what happened,” Almeida said. “But if criminals know that they are being monitored, perhaps they will not act.”
Heidi Auvenshine, a College of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said some students worry that the increased security coverage will infringe on their privacy. However, she said, she sees the necessity of the increased cameras around campus.
“With the cameras, I think they’re acceptable as long as they’re [BUPD] not using them to specifically go out and look for things to bust people for,” Auvenshine said. “I think that if there is a specific incident, then they [the cameras] are helpful.”