Campus Police Updates Surveillance Cameras
Issue   |   Wed, 09/18/2013 - 03:02

After 15 years of using the same equipment, Campus Police’ is updating its surveillance equipment to meet 21st century standards. On Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, Amherst College Police Chief John Carter sent out a school-wide e-mail announcing the enhancement of his department’s closed-circuit camera system. The new technology’s installation is projected to be completed by the middle of the fall semester.

The current surveillance system takes advantage of copper wires that directly connect its cameras to the College’s radio system. Because the wires are exposed, the risk of interference has always been an issue. Correspondingly, the current system does not have zoom-in and zoom-out features; this has proved inconvenient when attempting to identify a subject, whether it be a person or a license plate number.

The new system will be wireless with the needed enhancement features.

The current camera system had begun to show major glitches last year. When asked why Campus Police did not update its system until now, Chief Carter shared, “We’ve been using all this time to explore what other campuses are doing.”

Other campus security systems that the Campus Police observed include those of Wellesley College, Brandeis Univ., and Bentley Univ. Chief Carter confirmed budgeting was never an issue. However, acquiring approval for budgeting takes a substantial amount of time, namely, six months.

As stated in the e-mail, the existing upgraded locations are The Hills Parking Lot, O’Connell Parking Lot, the College St. Railroad underpass, interior locations within Mead Art Museum and the Loading Dock at Mead Art, among other places. The new exterior locations include the entrance to campus through East Drive, East Drive continuing south, Converse Parking Lot, the entrance to campus via South Pleasant Street to Orr Rink Lot, etc. The new exterior locations were selected so that cars are easily perceived as they enter or exit the campus. This is largely due to the fact most campus crimes are committed by outsiders. The majority of the people prosecuted for on-campus criminal activities are not Amherst students.

“I’ve noticed that most crimes are committed by people who specifically target college campuses. They’re rarely Amherst College students, or five-college students for that matter,” says Chief Carter. “It’s very easy for someone to assimilate and commit a theft, especially in such an open environment.”

Most of the perpetrators travel by vehicle, hence the security focus on road-way entrances/exits.

The security system’s new interior locations comprise the coat room at Val, the central doors to Frost and the lobby of the Athletic Center. In the last couple of years, these have been locations of increased instances of larceny.

“Last year, my coat and hat were stolen in Val’s coat room so I’m happy to hear Campus Police is becoming stricter with their surveillance of the area,” said Deborah Dakshiyev ’16. “This obviously doesn’t pertain to me exclusively. I’ve heard similar stories from other students.”

In addition to new video surveillance in these areas, Campus Police has made an effort to post warning signs where relevant and patrol when necessary. In reference to the former, one is apt to find signs with the following message: “Please do not leave your stuff unsupervised, as thefts have been reported.” Future approaches include more education concerning the consequences of theft.

Chief Carter has been at Amherst for 15 years. Over the course of his career, he says he has learned that community involvement, especially at an interactive campus like that of Amherst, is crucial. His school-wide e-mail serves to give the staff and students a chance to give feedback. If Amherst College students or staff have any suggestions about the betterment of campus security, Chief Carter encourages them to direct e-mails to or phone calls to 413-542-2771.

Tamika (not verified) says:
Thu, 09/19/2013 - 17:08

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