New cameras watch over Trabant
Published: Monday, February 27, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 03:02
Until last week, sophomore Gabby Coleman said she had not noticed the new security cameras watching over the food court in the Trabant University Center, which were installed over winter break.
"I guess they're a good idea," Coleman said. "I always see people steal stuff."
Margot Carroll, director of Hospitality Services, said the cameras have been in operation for the past two months and were installed to discourage students from stealing at the food court.
"[It is the] best practice for any commercial establishment that deals with a high volume of people and cash transaction," Carroll said. "People are aware that cameras are present and they refrain from committing a crime that could potentially be captured on video, hence the cameras serve as a deterrent."
She said the Trabant food court did not previously have surveillance cameras because university officials primarily concentrated on improving security at areas where students walk and a higher volume of crime has occurred.
During certain times, Carroll said university personnel are on a "virtual patrol," watching all university camera feeds, such as those from Trabant, for signs of trouble. She said employees at the dispatch center in the Office of Public Safety scan the feeds and are able to pull up specific cameras and monitor activity in that area if a complaint is received.
"That allows the 911 Center staff to be on-scene evaluating what is occurring even before a police officer arrives," Carroll said.
She said food theft at Trabant had previously been regulated by cashiers and other employees who are able to identify wrongdoing. She said university officials hope the cameras in Trabant will decrease crime, though it is too early in the semester to tell whether they have been effective as a preventative measure.
Carroll said Perkins Student Center also has several cameras, and students can expect to see more cameras installed in university buildings in the future.
Junior Kacie Hart said she thinks the cameras will be effective in discouraging theft only if they are used to identify students to be reprimanded.
Hart said more direct forms of surveillance, such as personnel watching over the food court, would be more effective than the cameras.
"It would be better for the staff to be able to call people out or to have an officer standing there because that's more direct and personal," Hart said.
Sophomore Emily Patrolia said she knows people who steal from the food court and thinks that it happens frequently.
Patriola said she believes the cameras might be an effective deterrent against theft if the students are aware of their presence but thought the added surveillance may be somewhat invasive.
"It feels a little bit like Big Brother, but it's whatever," Patriola said.
Freshman Chris Gulledge said he had not previously noticed the new cameras but does not mind them. He said he thinks they will have a positive effect in preventing crime in Trabant.
"It's nice [that they've been installed], because people can walk out of [the food court] with just anything," Gulledge said. "I don't think stealing from student centers is a problem on campus, but I don't think it would be very hard to do."