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Public Safety to install cameras in the Young parking lot

Spencer Schulze had just finished parking his car in the upper Young lot. Schulze, a sophomore at the time, noticed that it was a bit foggy out that night but didn’t think anything of leaving his car parked in the Young lot.

“Next morning I come out, and one of my wheels is gone,” said Schulze.

Schulze initially thought that one of his friends was messing around with him, until he realized that someone else had taken it. Schulze contacted Public Safety who instructed him to fill out a police report. He followed through with the report but Schulze was disappointed to find that there was not much action taken towards a resolution.

Unfortunately, Schulze is not the only student who feels there is a lack of security down at Young.

According to PLNU’s 2014 Annual Security Report, students have reported 16 motor vehicle thefts on campus in the past three years.

PLNU, until recently, had not taken security measures beyond regular patrols to solve the problem. That’s when ASB Director of Finance, Matt Herskowitz, in partnership with Public Safety, started work on what has come to be known as “The Camera Project.”

This project, which will install five cameras, three in Young’s upper lot and two in the lower, is an effort by the university to create better security in a location that is relatively removed from campus.

“The way I look at it, Young is one of the least secure places on campus,” said Herskowitz. “[It also] has the least amount of security, as far as fences and cameras. It has the longest response time for a Public Safety officer [and] there’s no reception down there, so even if you did see something go down, it would be difficult to call the police.”

Living in Young for three of his four years at PLNU, Herskowitz witnessed incident after incident, with one case involving his own bike being stolen. A personal motivation and the motivation of past thefts encouraged Herskowitz to attempt to get cameras installed.

“I’ve seen this need on campus for a long time,” said Herskowitz. “[By] being elected to the Director of Finance position I am finally [able] to do something about it.”

The Camera Project has been nearly five months in the making with initial plans beginning as early as August 2014. Because of what it entails, the project quickly spread to involve numerous departments on campus, including ITS, Public Safety and campus facilities.

Public Safety had to interview multiple camera manufacturers and consider the different weather conditions that are present at Young before making a final choice. Information Technology Services (ITS) had to create space on their servers to accommodate the feeds from the cameras and Campus Facilities had to go in over Christmas break to dig trenches and lay conduits. In total, the project ended up costing around $15,000 in ASB money with the university picking up the extra project costs.

Public Safety Supervisor Kaz Trypuc believes that this joint effort will have a positive effect on the way security is handled down at Young.

“Our expectation is that the cameras will provide us with real-time information on activity in the parking lots and post-incident information that can be used to solve crimes and actively prevent future ones,” said Trypuc. “If they serve to deter the commission of crimes in the first place, then all the better.”

Herskowitz, who worked closely with Public Safety, has seen a lot of willingness on the part of the school to put this project into action and believes that the result will be well worth the cost.

“Public Safety did a lot of work on it,” said Herskowitz. “From my end I am just like, this is a worthy cause, we have the funds, let’s write the check. But for Public Safety, they had to work through all the logistics [and] they did a great job on following through with this.”

Though no official completion date has been set yet, Trypuc and Herskowitz are confident that the final product will be beneficial for students living and parking in Young.

“A lot has to happen to get a live image from a camera in the parking lot below Young Hall to a computer display here in Public Safety,” Trypuc said. “But once the project is complete, we expect to see its positive impact on school safety for years to come.”

Herskowitz said he hopes these cameras will make people think twice before breaking into the cars in the Young Hall parking lots.

“It’s a preventative measure,” Herskowitz said. “Not saying cameras are going to stop someone from breaking into cars, but it may help in catching [those responsible]…this has a return on investment, it’s basically going to be saving students money.”