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BU Steps Up Security

Additional cameras being installed on both campuses


In the last year, security cameras have helped police find the suspects accused of stabbing a BU postdoctoral fellow in Brookline as well as the suspects in a series of armed robberies near campus. Now, at the behest of President Robert A. Brown, the University will increase the number of security cameras on both the Charles River and the Medical Campus. The cameras will be in place by October 31.

Scott Paré, the University’s deputy director of public safety and BU Police Department (BUPD) deputy chief, prefers not to say how many cameras will be added, or how many already exist, but he says the new cameras will be installed in areas such as Commonwealth Avenue, Bay State Road, and South Campus.

“These cameras will help us solve crimes,” says Paré. “They won’t prevent all crimes, but they will act as a deterrent. If criminals know we have camera coverage, they might think twice.”

Paré expects the new pan-tilt-zoom cameras, which can be controlled remotely from BUPD headquarters to move and zoom in, will help to ward off would-be criminals at hot spots such as bike racks. And they will allow dispatchers to keep an eye on the location of many incidents before officers arrive. They will also help BUPD gauge large crowds and traffic situations at major campus events such as Commencement and Move-in. “It’s almost like having another officer on the scene,” Paré says.

Peter Fiedler (COM’77), vice president for administrative services, says the project has taken months, because of the different components involved. BUPD is working with Facilities Management & Planning to prepare the buildings for mounting and drilling and with Information Services & Technology to run data lines and coordinate servers.

For people with concerns about privacy, Paré and Fiedler stress that cameras are installed only in public areas. “We’re not snooping,” Fiedler says. “BUPD will be the only ones with the authority to access the cameras. These cameras will really aid BUPD in their efforts to deter crime and ensure public safety.”

Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

14 Comments on BU Steps Up Security

  • Mary W on 09.25.2013 at 6:26 am

    I was hoping that when the article mentioned the two campuses, it was referring to the medical campus. Health professional students study late into the evening yet there are no security personnel in prominent locations after 8 pm. Perhaps cameras would improve the sense of security at the South End campus too.

    • Amy M Laskowski on 09.25.2013 at 9:11 am

      Hi Mary, I think you misunderstood. The article refers to the Med Campus in the first paragraph.

    • kitty on 09.25.2013 at 9:48 am

      The Boston University Police are at the Medical Campus 24 hours a day, as well as the Public Safety security personnel. BUMC Public Safety reports to the BUPD, so any concerns you may have concerning visibility of police or security can be directed to the BU Police at 353-2110. The BU police officers on duty can meet you on the BUMC.

  • sean on 09.25.2013 at 7:10 am

    Lol @ what is hopefully just the XP default background. And what is the point of privacy?

  • Jamie on 09.25.2013 at 7:13 am

    Is anyone concerned about this? I feel kind of uncertain about the whole thing because of the old, “what if they use the cameras for purposes that I wouldn’t want” problem. Like, what if these cameras are used to identify people at a peaceful protest and that information is passed along to another outside group? And, yeah, I know there are already cameras but I guess I’m wondering about whether cameras should be allowed at all…maybe cameras with restrictions on what the information can be used for? What do other people think?

    • kitty on 09.25.2013 at 9:49 am

      I think that what people do in public places is not protected from observation, whether in person or by camera.

    • Dylan on 09.25.2013 at 10:24 am

      The reality here is that even if dispatchers keep their eyes on certain hotspots, they can never actively look across the whole campus. This good thing here is post-mortem investigation support. BUPD will use it to solve cases and share information with other law enforcement authorities like BPD (Brookline and Boston), State Police and maybe even transportation police.

      People think they are actively being spied on, but IMHO the reality is another tool to solve crimes.

    • Alex on 09.25.2013 at 10:35 am

      I can certainly understand your concern. Honestly these are scary times for individual privacy. Fast computing, inexpensive sensors and mobile phones put a big hurt on privacy. Here are some examples, many so called free services like social media and email are not free. They are mining your information to make all sorts of models and push advertising. Your credit card company knows what you buy. Your phone carrier knows where you are and go. Most mobile phones today don’t have removable batteries. How do you know it is not recording your speech and taking pictures when you think it is off? You don’t. All the tagged images with your name can be used to make reasonably accurate facial image recognition. Computer algorithms similar to that used on Kinect can identify you by your body dynamics. By submitting this comment someone at BU knows what room and computer I am sitting at. Visit a website, your mac and IP are logged by their computers. Storage of all this info is so inexpensive, easy to access, and correlate across platforms that a motivated entity can learn more about you than you want in minutes. Indeed scary.

      There are certainly benefits to this technology but it depends on the ethics of the beholder of the data or in who’s hands it ends up in. Company A may align with your ethics but what happens when they go out of business and company B buys their data?

      It will be interesting to see how society changes in the next twenty years. Some people are thinking about this but they are overpowered by free email, traffic reports, knee jerk reactions to terrorists, new gadgets, social media etc. Society will ultimately vote for what it wants. Thank you for voicing your opinion.

  • Don on 09.25.2013 at 9:55 am

    I’m glad BU police finally does the right thing. We need more cameras covering the whole campus and the surrounding streets. This will help them catch all the crazy criminals who steal, kill, rob, rape or terrorize the community. Of course someone is going to come out protesting this as “violating the human right and their privacy.” These people need to grow up.

  • Barbara Brown on 09.25.2013 at 11:49 am

    As I know many others are, I am concerned about protecting my right to privacy. I appreciated the assurances that the cameras are only in public places & that only BUPD would see these videos. However, I would also like to hear that, after a certain date, old video footage would be discarded and in a way that others could not use. A small but important Q: how does BUPD define a public space? Bathrooms? Faculty and staff offices?

  • Steve on 09.25.2013 at 4:47 pm

    My pseudo-privacy concern would be that these cameras aren’t used to monitor whether Johnny Freshman was walking down the street with a bottle of alcohol, and then subsequently use the footage in a judicial proceeding. That would be a colossal waste of time and resources and would do absolutely nothing to increase security on campus.

  • Nathan on 09.26.2013 at 3:24 pm

    It’s frustrating that they claim public knowledge of these cameras will deter crime, but the BUPD refuses to release the location of these cameras. True, it’s possible that releasing this information may cause thieves to concentrate their efforts where no cameras exist, but without releasing these locations those places that are actually surveilled will still be targeted for crime. So, as the third paragraph states explicitly, solving crime is the goal, not crime prevention.

    Given that post-crime focus I assume that they hope higher arrest rates will warn criminals away from these areas over time, but if their goal is long term prevention, it’s important to articulate this goal and provide the data that supports such a plan’s efficacy. What does success look like? When can we reasonably expect it?

    Criticism of their platitudes aside, I feel strongly that if I am going to be watched as a potential criminal as I walk down Comm Ave, I at least want to know where the cameras are.

  • Nuclear Deterrent on 09.28.2013 at 2:16 pm

    I bet the perpetrators have read this webpage, and now are shivering in fear.

  • BU Parent on 10.08.2013 at 4:03 pm

    I find it UNBELIEVABLE that there are people worried about their “privacy” when students are being murdered, run over and raped. To answer Barbara browns questions why throw any footage away? suppose it is needed to investigate a crime a year later? The only place you have an expectation of privacy is in your home technically. It has been argued that your car , office and public bathrooms have limited scope of privacy i.e you certainly have an expectation of not being filmed in a toilet however you have no right to have sex in a public bathroom or your car for that matter. As far as steve is concerned, as long as possession of alcohol by a minor is illegal, the potential for that use is possible.

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