Delta College in Calif. Looks to Beef up Surveillance

Mar. 10--STOCKTON - The San Joaquin Delta College Police Department wants to update its surveillance system by doubling the number of cameras on campus.

The existing surveillance system, installed three years ago, has cut overall campus crime by more than 60 percent, according to campus police statistics. Installing additional cameras will reduce crime even more - especially in higher-crime areas such as parking lots - campus Police Chief Marc Bromme said.

Delta College has from 20 to 30 surveillance cameras on campus, said Lee Belarmino, Delta's associate vice president of technology.

A recent presentation before Delta's Board Of Trustees called for spending about $890,000 on new cameras from Honeywell.

"Campus safety has always been a priority," Trustee Ted Simas said Wednesday. "I'm really glad to see the action being taken. It's unfortunate that we have to spend that kind of money, but it's the society we live in. It's necessary to make sure students, employees and guests are safe visiting the campus."

Maria Fallad, 18, takes some evening courses at Delta College and said the school has a safe atmosphere.

But she said the additional cameras would make the campus even safer.

Others worry more about safety issues on campus and said they welcome plans to beef up surveillance.

"It's just too dark," Monica Grimes-Burger said Tuesday as she walked from her silver BMW to the campus child development center, which she manages. Security officers "drive around, but I don't think it's frequently enough."

Grimes-Burger said she doesn't feel safe, especially when she and her staff must park in remote areas. The cameras will improve safety, she said.

"It's needed," Grimes-Burger said. "I hope nothing ever happens to me out here."

Crime fell 64 percent one year after the college installed its current $60,000 camera surveillance system in fiscal 2003-04, according to campus police statistics. Police also caught more suspects in the act. The burglary arrest rate increased 68 percent from fiscal 2002-03 to 2003-04.

Delta campus police process about 2,000 crime reports annually and receive about 20,000 calls for service per year, Bromme said.

Trustees must ultimately approve the acquisition of the new surveillance system and plan to schedule a vote on the issue in the spring, Simas said.

"I don't think it will be a problem at all to be passed when it comes before us," Simas said.

[Record, The (Stockton, CA) (KRT) -- 03/13/06]