Diego Saldana/Staff Writer
As on-campus safety continues to be an issue, the University’s police department is making sure it’s ready for the worst case scenario.
The University police department has begun to investigate some of its own security measures. The department is currently conducting an internal survey of security measures on campus including cameras, panic buttons and locknetics according to Chief of Police Alexander Casas.
There are currently 1,500 security cameras on all campuses including the Engineering Center, the Wolfsonian and Pines Charter. There are also 121 panic buttons at the Modesto Maidique Campus, 32 at the Biscayne Bay Campus and one at the Engineering Center.
As of press time 13 panic buttons were deemed inoperable by University Police on MMC campus said Casas.
“As we were evaluating our emergency response ability, we realized that there was a disconnect between the systems we had,” Casas said. “We are trying to figure out a way to make it easier for our dispatchers to use what’s available for them, connecting the legacy systems with the newer systems, we figured out that we weren’t really 100 percent certain of what we had. No one had ever actually gone and checked the panic alarms.”
Because of this, police service technicians were forced to check each alarm to see which ones were malfunctioning. Each panic button was installed and is maintained by facilities management.
Chelsie Calvo, a grad student in speech therapy, noted that these issues raise concern for her.
“I don’t feel safe especially considering I have classes at night,” Calvo said. “That’s not exactly reassuring.”
Saurabh Voharg, a chemistry graduate student, also thinks that such malfunctioning security measures present a danger to students.
“It’s quite unsafe,” Voharg said. “I’ve never encountered a mishap, [but] for now I’ve been safe.”
Since 2012, there has not been a single user to press the panic button for help, according to Casas. There are also 31 cameras paired with panic alarms around campus.
Viola Sckeyde, a sophomore international business major, has never noticed there were security cameras at MMC.
“I think its a bit weird when everybody is watching you all the time but I think for safety reasons it’s good,” said Sckeyde.
Most of the time, cameras are placed in areas where there is high foot traffic or money distribution such as the cashier’s office.
Another new technology that Casas has been working with at the University is locknetics. Locknetics are electronic key locks that allow for police dispatch to lock doors and close off entire buildings. As of now, 11 buildings are currently equipped with the system. In addition, all new buildings constructed at the University will have this technology, including Academic Health Center 4.
However, not all the locking mechanisms were functioning properly. University Police is still ongoing in its review of the locknetics program.
Additional reporting by Jonathan Jacobskind
Casas plans to move the University safety systems forward by providing more camera and panic button integration and easier to use controls for University Police dispatchers.
All audits started in November and have been of no cost to the department aside from man hours put in. These audits will become a yearly check up that the department will conduct in the upcoming semesters and years.