UCR adds surveillance cameras to increase safety

Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER
Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER

In April 2013, the University Task Force on Safety (UTFS) released 40 recommendations to improve campus safety after a string of crimes occurred earlier that year. By earlier this quarter, the university had met or was in the process of completing over half of these recommendations, which included the installation of 14 wireless surveillance cameras around campus.

UCPD Assistant Chief of Police and UTFS member John Freese explained that UCPD teamed up with the city of Riverside to install the cameras on Linden Street, University Avenue, Blaine Street and Rustin Street. The locations are also marked with signs noting the partnerships between the two parties, and serves as a warning to potential criminals passing through the area.

The university’s purchase and installation of the cameras, which totalled $95,000, was added into the existing fiscal year, effective July 1, 2014. On the other hand, the maintenance and operation of the wireless cameras will be overseen by the city. The cameras are used primarily in two cases: If a crime is committed along one of the public streets, then the footage can be viewed to gather details about the specific case; and the cameras can also be tapped during emergencies such as in the case of a shooting or criminal chase.

This project represents one of many ways that the city collaborates with UCPD to increase safety. One other significant means of collaboration includes the University Neighborhood Enhancement Team (UNET), a coalition of eight UCPD officers and two Riverside police sergeants. Created in 1994, the team identifies ways to improve local neighborhoods by targeting various issues such as: traffic problems, juvenile problems, vandalism and prostitution in the campus area.

“This (partnership) has proven crucial, as the officers can act as liaisons for the respective agency,” said Freese.

Some expressed concerns over the potential loss of privacy due to the cameras. Michael Rosenbaum, a third-year music major and local resident said, “Given the circumstances, (the cameras) are a welcome addition because it is important to give students a sense of security.” Since the installations are in heavily-impacted areas, Rosenbaum responded that “the loss of privacy is minimal compared to the benefits of stopping a burglary.”

Contributions made by Estefania Zavala.

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