Police: Cameras keep campus safe

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    Smile, you are on campus camera.Security cameras, which use digital video recording, record 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but don’t worry. TCU Police say they are not watching the community’s every move.

    TCU Police Chief Steve McGee said 65 security cameras on campus have proved to be beneficial in preventing and solving crimes and keeping the campus safe.

    McGee said the cameras are sporadically monitored throughout the day for student safety. He said the cameras are intended to be an additional tool available to the officers.

    Sgt. Kelly Ham said it is very important that the cameras’ locations not be disclosed. Ham said cameras were recently installed in some academic buildings, but the primary focus remains on the freshman parking lot, since students are often walking there late at night.

    “Any time a girl calls for a Froggie-Five-O, our cameras focus on her and remain there until she is picked up,” Ham said.

    While the police tout the protection the surveillance offers, The American Civil Liberties Union has expressed reservations about the possible invasion of privacy.

    Frank Colosi, a local cooperating attorney for the ACLU, said that even though it is a form of protection, it is offensive.

    “The question is, if the level of protection crosses the line of invading civil liberties,” Colosi said.

    TCU Assistant Police Chief J.C. Williams said he does not believe the security cameras invade privacy because they are in public places like the parking lots.

    Students who were interviewed said they value the protection the cameras offer.

    Emily Schmeltekopf, a freshman ballet major, said she was unaware of the cameras in the parking lots, but now feels safer.

    “I think it is a great idea for the cameras to watch girls waiting for Froggie,” Schmeltekopf said.

    McGee said the cameras are not only there to keep students safe but to keep property safe as well. The police are able to view past footage to help identify possible suspects in burglary cases.

    McGee said they have been highly effective in solving crimes. He said he was aware of four different groups of burglars that were apprehended with the help of the devices.

    Cameras were originally introduced to TCU in 1986, Ham said, when several cameras were installed in the freshman parking lot to help police with surveillance.

    Ham said that in the past couple of years, the department has drastically increased the number of cameras and continues to assess where more cameras are needed.