College Grounds not Fully Monitored by Security Cameras

All photos in various spots on Brooklyn College campus by Derek Norman

Brooklyn College security cameras have been offline for years and will not all be operational until a nearly four-year project is completed this summer.

As part of a CUNY-wide initiative to upgrade the fire and security systems at the campuses, $19,667 was approved by the University to update the systems at Brooklyn College as part of the 2008 to 2012 CUNY master plan. The upgrades were requested for the 2008 to 2009 phase of the plan and were estimated to be completed in Jan. 2010.

“All areas of campus have not been covered by cameras for years,” said Director of Public Safety Don Wenz. In the late 1990s, there were some cameras installed, but the old system burnt out and is not entirely operational now, he said.

The administration has been looking to upgrade for the last 10 to 15 years and it is finally coming to fruition. Wenz said in about 30 days, the college will have capabilities in all cameras campus-wide.

James Hall, which is represented by the college’s 2900 Bedford Ave. address, was approved on July 1, 2009 for work “to modify existing fire alarm systems,” according to New York City Buildings Department documents.

“This project will prove to be a significant improvement to the safety and security of the campus,” stated the CUNY master plan back in 2008. “The new security system will provide a robust working system to serve the needs of the Public Safety department of the college.”

What was estimated to be completed roughly seven years ago has only started within the last year and half, according to Director of Facilities and Maintenance Francis Fitzgerald. In one or two months, installation of the system in Whitehead Hall, one of the last buildings to be updated, will be completed.

“Both of these systems are replacing either defunct or obsolete systems,” Fitzgerald said. “The fire alarm system is replacing our old systems that, they were so old they didn’t meet code first of all and they were very difficult to maintain. The security system is replacing what was or is there.”

As the project is run by Johnson Controls, Facilities’ only role is to map out the buildings and provide access to rooms and advice.

James Hall is currently waiting inspection from the New York Fire Department and Whitman is being modified for re-inspection.

Alexandria Dass, a public accounting major takes part in a club in Whitehead Hall and realized that the club’s poster board was being vandalized. When she alerted the Accounting Department about the incident, she was told that the camera that points at the board is not actually operational.

“I don’t know why, but what’s the point of being there if they don’t work?” Dass said. “From the time I came to the school, I always thought the cameras worked, but I was so shocked that the cameras didn’t work, they’re just there to fool us.”

Wenz does not believe that online cameras will necessarily curb crime. “We don’t have that many crimes on campus that would be affected by cameras,” he said. “Somebody that looks to take something normally would look around to see if there are cameras anyway.”

Cameras will have live-stream as well as recording capabilities and will be monitored by Public Safety 24/7.

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