UNA officials: Security cameras to be installed in parking deck

Students walk out of the on-campus parking deck March 30. In the past five years, 58 crimes have occurred in the structure, according to UNA Police Crime Logs. University officials announced earlier this month security cameras will be added before the end of the summer.

University officials say they are prepared to take the next step in ensuring a safe campus by spending an expected $225,000 on new surveillance equipment.

Vice President for Student Affairs David Shields announced during the March board of trustees meeting security cameras will soon be added to the on-campus parking deck and several other campus entities.

“We encourage an environment of reporting crime,” Shields said. “The cameras will be used more as investigative tools — post-crime, post-incident.”

He said the UNA Police Department will have access to the surveillance feeds at all times, but there will not be a person dedicated to monitoring the hundreds of screens 24/7.

“It’s proven, although there are some people who do not pay attention, the cameras do work as a deterrent to crime,” said Interim UNA Police Chief Mark Parker. “They realize the cameras increase the likelihood of being apprehended.”

Crimes in the on-campus parking deck have prompted student requests for security cameras for several years.

Since April 2010, 58 crimes have occurred in the on-campus parking deck, according to UNA Police Crime Logs.

Reports indicate most of those crimes include vandalism of vehicles, burglaries and theft.

In 2012, a robbery and kidnapping were reported and a man was arrested for exposing his body in the deck, according to the crime logs.

A rape also allegedly took place, beginning in the parking deck and continuing between there and the library.

Shields called the university parking deck a “notorious issue for us.”

SGA President KeKoria Greer said surveillance of the deck is a major concern for students, campus visitors and SGA members.

“Without campus safety, we can’t have academics,” Greer said. “If you don’t feel comfortable or safe coming to class, you won’t be able to succeed in those classes.”

Alumnus Matthew Wilson said he never understood why the parking deck did not have cameras all throughout the building.

“Seeing students be afraid of a portion of their campus while money was being spent on new buildings was a tough thing to accept,” he said.

Shields said the camera installation is currently in phase one, which includes all entrances and exits, and the first floor of the deck.

“With the design of the building, it’s important we place those cameras in the right way because that’s an area you can still access without going through the entrance,” he said, regarding the first floor.

He said the two new residence halls will have a variety of cameras both inside and outside, monitoring people entering and exiting and the perimeters of the buildings.

Phase one of the project also includes replacing all camera systems in the current residence halls to match ones in new residence halls and adding additional cameras in Collier Library.

The new science building has perimeter cameras, and Shields said he believes the facility has surveillance on the interior as well.

“This is the first phase,” Shields said. “We will implement more cameras as we have the resources to do so.”