Security cameras upgraded in Patterson

By Aaron Bocook, News Writer

Students taking classes in the newly finished Patterson Hall may have noticed something they have not seen before on campus.

Just inside each of Patterson’s four entrances at about waist level, small black orb-style cameras are constantly recording.

Jim Moeller, Eastern’s senior project manager in charge of the Patterson renovation, said he was asked to put the cameras in the building.

“The security cameras in Patterson are a part of a larger administrative issue,” Moeller said. “It was an [Office of Information Technology] install, and the cameras are monitored by campus police.

“We don’t monitor them per se,” said Tim Walters, chief of campus police and director of campus safety. “People have the impression that we’ve got a wall of flat screens, but no.

“The only time we utilize them is if there’s a crime. For example, we had some furniture stolen out of there right after they opened it, so we were able to see people taking the furniture out of the building and solve a crime with that.”

Walters said that the style of camera is new, and cost between $200-$300, but are operated through systems already in place at Eastern with software that is continually updated.

According to Walters, EWU is simply trying to keep up with the systems found in universities around the country in regards to campus security and student safety.

“Patterson cameras are just a more visible version of what is already in place and updated version.We’re trying to see what works best when we build new buildings or when we upgrade our current buildings on campus,” Walters said. “So we look at best practice and what works best for identifying suspects.”

The new cameras follow the same guidelines as older systems at Eastern, Walters said. The system cannot be used for administrative purposes, such as monitoring staff and faculty, and the footage is only retrieved in relation to a crime. The footage is stored on a hard drive, and the archives are recycled about every 30 days.

Perhaps the most important purpose of the cameras is to make sure everyone is out of the building in case of emergency.

“In Patterson, if we had a fire, there are points where disabled people have to go to for collection points,” Walters said. “I can bring the cameras up in the collection points and make sure everybody is taken care of and out of the building. If we have a person on the third floor at one of the collection points, we can look from camera A to camera Z — it helps us as far as an extra set of eyes.”

After the boxes containing the cameras were placed by the doors and the wiring schematics were delivered to the site, Moeller’s job was done.

But as buildings like the PUB are renovated, and as new buildings are erected, Walters said students can expect to see more orb-style cameras like the ones found in Patterson hall. They have already been installed in the entrances of the new residence hall and are planned to be installed in other critical high-theft points like the URC and bicycle racks.

“They are there for safety purposes,” Walters said. “Not just students, but overall campus safety.”securityCameras_karissa