Farrow praises student involvement in improving campus security
Following a number of burglaries targeting university buildings, UC Davis Campus Police Chief Joe Farrow and Security Director Jeff Rott spoke to The California Aggie about increased security measures on campus. Farrow previously addressed these issues in an Oct. 17 press release.
“I want you to know that your safety is our first priority, and remind you that our campus community is relatively safe,” Farrow wrote. “We have several safety and security projects underway — including lighting enhancement, security cameras and emergency call box installations. Also, we are moving forward with a new-generation building access system that when completed will greatly enhance the safety of our campus community.”
During and after the implementation of these security measures, Farrow stressed the importance of being aware of one’s surroundings.
“Even with our efforts, it is always important to watch out for one another,” Farrow said. “Notify campus authorities when you see things that seem out of place, unusual, dangerous or otherwise suspicious — always trust your instincts.”
This is particularly applicable to students studying or working late at night on campus; Farrow said that students “don’t have to go it alone.”
These new efforts are part of the Campus Security Standards Implementation Project, which is focused on modernizing, rather than expanding, security resources on campus. Rott noted that centralizing these systems will help improve campus safety.
“In sum, the project will refresh existing electronic security systems on campus under a centralized platform managed by Police,” Rott said via email. “The project will upgrade existing systems to state-of-the-art key cards and hardware, allowing the campus to have increased privacy standards and improved compliance with UC-wide policies.”
Rott also highlighted the implementation of emergency call boxes in certain locations on campus following student requests for their installation in Spring 2016. Some have already been installed, but new ones are in the works.
“With support from campus, UCOP, and State and Federal grant programs, we will install additional call boxes throughout campus this year,” Rott said via email. “The locations were determined with the assistance of ASUCD and student feedback from our lighting walks. For example, students on our lighting walks requested call boxes be installed near Shields Library for students walking to their vehicles after studying late at night at the 24 Hour Reading Room.”
Farrow spoke about the use of security cameras on campus, stressing that the improvements made are focusing on modernization rather than expansion. When asked about possible student concerns regarding the surveillance aspect of the security camera installations, Farrow said that the cameras are “more so we can record and know who’s going into the building at different times, [in order to] prevent crimes and identify and apprehend people doing harm and destruction on our campus.” He added that currently “every camera is stand-alone,” which the police department hopes to improve by knowing where each one is located.
“All the cameras will be owned by [UCDPD] in a way that we know [where each camera is] so if there is a crime […] we know what recordings we will try to obtain,” Farrow said.
He explained that the recordings record over one another about every thirty days, and that the police department only stores such information if a crime takes place.
Farrow said that working with ASUCD students on this project has been “enlightening.”
“[UCDPD] started the security project almost three years ago, but it takes that long to get the contracts and [the hardware in place],” Farrow said. “We’re still communicating with stakeholders about how the keycard access is going to work.”
He also highlighted the fact that no cameras will be added in any of the buildings “without the authorization and the partnership of the people who manage each facility — [whether tenants or owners].”
Farrow emphasized the role of Aggie Host patrol officers — current UC Davis students — in preventing on-campus robberies.
“We got some information from our Aggie Host patrol officers that an individual had opened the building and so we spotted and found the person in the building with burglary tools trying to burgle one of the offices and then we caught them in the act and made an arrest,” Farrow said. “Even earlier in the evening there were two other individuals very close by who both had outstanding arrest warrants and we escorted them off the campus.”
These patrol officers are stationed throughout campus.
“Some of our acknowledgement needs to go to our own students, our Aggie Hosts, and especially with Bainer, it was our students who went out there at night and and these are our students helping students,” Farrow said. “They do a tremendous job for the safety of our community and I tip my hat to them, they do a fantastic job.”
Aside from these changes to security systems, Rott wanted to reassure students that resources are available to keep them safe. These include the Safe Ride program and the Aggie Guardian app. He affirmed that if students call the police, they are “always available to have an officer respond,” adding that “one of our primary focuses is that students feel comfortable coming on to campus to conduct their research and their studies.”
Written by: Rebecca Bihn-Wallace — firstname.lastname@example.org