New-Looking Security Cameras on Campus Nothing New; Used As Deterrence to Promote Safe Campus

Caleb Nelson

Cameras recently placed around the Campus Center do not indicate an increased interest in watching the daily activities of students, according to University of Massachusetts Boston Police Chief Phil O’Connell. In fact, O’Connell said the cameras are not even new.

“What you are seeing are old cameras that were moved to more effective locations,” O’Connell said.

These effective locations are by the exits of the Campus Center and the gates at the corner of the North Parking lot. UMB student Adam Overbay said he doesn’t mind the cameras-if their presence doesn’t go too far.

“I don’t have a problem with security cameras as long as they stay in the parking lot,” said Overbay. “The problem I have is when cameras are used to make crimes out of things that wouldn’t otherwise matter.”

O’Connell said that most of the cameras on campus watch the parking lots and although he wouldn’t give the exact number, a rough estimate of on-campus cameras is nineteen.

“It’s not like there are cameras on campus disguised as bushes or something,” O’Connell said. “If you pay attention, you can see them.”

Nine cameras are in the North and South parking lots and three are in central portions of buildings-two in the breezeway in front of the campus center, and one in the Healey Library by a fire exit. The other six are spread through the other parking lots.

Although O’Connell admitted that cameras beside fire exits are connected to the on-campus fire security system to determine whether the emergency exit door was opened before a fire alarm sounds, he said campus police don’t have access to any cameras in the Healey Library-for a reason.

“I don’t like going into them because it sort of defeats the purpose,” O’Connell said, “We don’t have officers watching them constantly. We use them more as investigative aids and deterrents.”

Despite 33 incidents of larceny at UMB last year and two unrelated occasions during which a weapon was brandished on campus in the last month, O’Connell reassured student safety.

“UMass Boston is generally a safe campus.” O’Connell explained. “It is well lit, and thankfully we have not had many occasions to use our security cameras.