Public Safety Crime Prevention Specialist Barry Weiser was pleased last Sunday with the performance of the "Axis 200 Web Camera" – currently filming the progress of the new football stadium's construction – when the camera caught trespassers on the construction site. This ability to enhance crime prevention without a proctor on the scene prompted Weiser to consider placing other cameras in parking lots and other high crime areas.
The use of these cameras has the potential to drive already low crime rates even lower, and Public Safety should be commended for any measure that helps ensure the student body's safety. Car crimes, bike thefts and fear of late night walks through campus parking lots could all be reduced with this newest weapon of crime prevention.
Weiser made clear that the planning for increased use of the camera is only in its formative stages. In these formative stages, Public Safety should consider the potential privacy violations of any initiative that calls for expanded monitoring of University grounds. Public Safety needs to spell out their camera policy: Where will these cameras be placed? What constitutes a high crime area? What crimes will the use of these cameras target?
We appreciate the drive for increased safety, but we ask for a measure of caution during the planning process. If the initiative is implemented, the University will enter a new era of surveillance: fully operational video monitoring and a 24-hour prox system that tracks students' movements into and out of University buildings. The plan is born of good intentions, but Public Safety should remain wary of a campus where Big Brother has a wide window into students' lives.