University heightens camera security on campus

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    The university has installed new surveillance equipment that will enhance security operations on campus, the TCU Police chief said.

    Steve McGee, campus police chief, said that before the new system was installed, the university had five different surveillance systems that it is now trying to phase out. If a crime occurred, it took a long time for the police department to pull up footage, and it slowed investigations down, he said.

    The new system allows police to freeze an image on camera and have a sharper look at a suspect, McGee said. The clearer image gives police concrete evidence and helps during the prosecution of a suspect, he said.

    More cameras would be hooked up as university officials receive more money from general funds, McGee said.

    Budget manager Megan Soyer wrote in an e-mail that the exact dollar amount that will be spent on surveillance equipment is uncertain because the university is still working through the details.

    After a year of testing various surveillance systems on campus, university officials selected one that became operational on Aug. 20, said Bryan Lucas, executive director of Technology Resources.

    The new system has begun to centralize all the cameras on campus in a standard way, Lucas said.

    “We did a whole lot of testing,” Lucas said. “We measured the network performance of impact, the storage impact, tested the quality of the image and made sure everyone was happy with it.”

    So far, 16 cameras have been linked up to the new system, Lucas said. The plan is for all existing and new cameras to eventually be working in one unified system.

    McGee said burglary of a motor vehicle has been the most prevalent crime on campus. Burglaries have increased since the 1990s, when Texas modified its penal code and changed burglary of a motor vehicle from a third-degree felony to a Class A misdemeanor, McGee said.

    The Garvey-Rosenthal Soccer Stadium parking lot and the Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center parking lot have been two of the highest hit crime areas, and the university hopes to install cameras in the parking lots eventually, McGee said. People leave their cell phones and wallets in their car, and burglars smash out the car window to steal those items, he said.

    However, technologically advanced cameras will no bring 100 percent reduction in crime, McGee said.

    “We can have cameras in every building and everywhere; it is not going to stop an active shooter,” McGee said. “The only thing that will stop an active shooter is prevention where (resident assistants), staff, students and police see an issue and get involved.”