|November 11, 2008|
New cameras to increase security for campus and community
One of the new surveillance cameras, located at Nott Street and Van Vranken Avenue
The College will donate up to 10 public surveillance cameras to help deter crime in the surrounding neighborhood under a partnership with the Schenectady County district attorney’s office and the city of Schenectady, officials announced today.
Three cameras were recently installed along Nott Street, with the other seven to be added in the coming months.
“We are committed to providing a safe and secure environment for our students, employees and staff, and these cameras will greatly assist our efforts,” said President Stephen C. Ainlay. “They create a buffer on our perimeter and provide law enforcement with an extra set of eyes to watch for criminal activity.”
The College is contributing more than $81,000 to pay for the cameras, part of a project launched by District Attorney Robert Carney. Since 2004, dozens of cameras have been installed on public streets and parking lots throughout the city. Attached to light poles, they can be controlled remotely and have the ability to pan, zoom and tilt to observe activity on the street.
The live footage is monitored by trained individuals, including retired police officers, at police headquarters.
“We thank Union College for joining with us in expanding our public safety camera project to its current size of 40 cameras and to committing funding to do more,” Carney said. “Evidence captured by network cameras has helped police solve crimes and district attorneys convict offenders. In some locations our cameras have had measurable impacts in deterring crime, and we hope these cameras will make the Union campus a safer place.”
President Stephen C. Ainlay discusses campus safety initiatives while flanked by Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton, Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett and Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney.
Last month, the first three cameras became operational along Nott Street at Seward Place, Van Vranken Avenue and Foster Avenue. Additional cameras are planned for Seward Place (at Roger Hull Place, Union Street and South Avenue); Union Avenue (at University Place and Union Street) and the South Avenue/Park Place and Lenox Road/Nott Street intersections.
College officials have been working with city officials to address campus safety. This fall, the College added a second off-duty Schenectady police officer to bolster security patrols at night, a time when most incidents occur.
“We are grateful for the continued partnership with Union College to improve the safety and vitality of the community we share,” said Schenectady Mayor Brian U. Stratton. “With its significant financial investment, and the addition of 10 surveillance cameras, Union College is both protecting its students and supporting the efforts of the district attorney and Schenectady to make our city a better place to live and work.”
Recent surveys have shown that cameras can be an effective deterrent against crime, and many colleges across the country have added them on campus and in surrounding neighborhoods.
Five years ago, Union began installing cameras at strategic spots on campus, and the College now has 30 cameras that are monitored regularly by the Campus Safety Department.
William Sickinger, director of Campus Safety, stressed that any information obtained through video monitoring is used exclusively for security and law enforcement purposes.
“The cameras are a useful tool to deter crime and assist us in protecting the safety and property of the campus community,” he said. “We respect people’s privacy and want them to feel comfortable about the presence of the cameras.”