Security cameras sometimes have been seen as simply an invasion of privacy, a sign that Big Brother is watching. However, the cameras also have a positive impact when it comes to deterring or solving crime.
A case in point is Kansas University, where dozens of security cameras have been strategically placed throughout the Lawrence campus. KU Police Chief Ralph Oliver says adding cameras over the years has helped the department do its job better; they are good witnesses.
“When someone does commit a crime in front of one of those cameras, it enhances our ability to identify those suspects,” Oliver told the Journal-World this week.
KU started installing security cameras seven years ago after a female student was attacked by someone with a knife near the Lied Center and another incident occurred near Gertrude Sellards Pearson and Corbin halls. Recently, KU has added dozens of cameras in areas the KU Public Safety Office thinks they are needed, and more are budgeted for the future.
Don’t ask Oliver where the cameras are; that would defeat their purpose. Just know, the cameras are monitored.
Big Brother? Not really. The cameras can identify suspects, provide clues in auto burglaries and deter potential criminals. Two years ago, KU police used camera evidence to identify and arrest a suspect who was peeking at women in residence hall showers. The cameras also aided officers in the arrest of three auto burglary suspects outside GSP Hall.
Oliver credits video technology for a 26 percent drop in crime on the Lawrence campus since 2001. For example, total burglaries dropped from 154 in 2001 to 60 in 2011 and total theft reports dropped from 362 in 2001 to 212 in 2011.
Next up in video crime fighting is the installation of cameras on the Edwards Campus in Overland Park.
As Oliver says, cameras don’t catch criminals, but they are a valuable tool to help keep KU’s campus safe and secure.