Cameras, new officers among measure to bolster UND security

School also looking at replacing all traditional locks on campus


Aug. 26--Every year, someone from UND's Police Department tells the parents of future students about all the ways campus is equipped to keep their children safe.

But this year, Chief Eric Plummer had a few new announcements.

The school has put in a request for 250 cameras and the system used to monitor them from a central location. Plummer said he is also looking at replacing all traditional locks on campus with a data scanner of some kind, similar to card readers on hotel room doors.

Plummer said safety improvements and actively improving the relationship between officers and the community they serve has benefited everyone on campus.

"Students are now seeing us as a resource, not an adversary," he said.

The department also recently hired two new officers and added a police dog named Ben to assist in drug and people searches.

But UND has had several programs and policies in place for years to help students earn a degree in a safe, supportive environment. One of those groups is the Campus Life and Safety Team, which looks at how policies could be changed to better reflect the needs of students.

Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Steven Light, a CLAST member, said the group works to make sure there is effective communication between administrative groups on campus.

"At UND, we have a multifaceted approach to ensuring students faculty and staff safety, and it includes different groups at different levels working all the time," he said.

New ideas

To start the school year off right, Plummer said officers will be kicking off the "Know" campaign to educate students about their legal rights and responsibilities. Informational fliers about how much legal trouble students can get in for offenses such as drug possession, trespassing, owning a fake ID and several others regarding alcohol consumption are being passed out to students.

"We're going to expand it throughout the year; know the impact, know the laws, know the facts," Plummer said. "We're going to stress those three concepts."

According to the school's 2014 Security and Fire Safety Report, the number of burglaries on campus has increased from two in 2011, to 19 in 2012 and 16 in 2013.

As a result, Plummer said security cameras are being considered to deter vandals and thieves. If the police are notified of an incident, they would activate the camera in that area to view the crime in progress and get a better handle on the situation before showing up in person.

"The public safety camera systems are really for protection of life and property," Plummer said. "We have a lot of vehicles and events on campus, and this would give the community some security when they park in one of our lots."

If the funding request goes through, the cameras would have night vision capabilities, motion sensors, and can be manipulated to view 360 degrees of a scenario.

The key card system for door locks is still far away from being implemented. Plummer said he makes a point to consult the entire campus community before making major changes through personal interviews and surveys.

"Everything we do will be vetted," he said.

Additional security

These new safety features are being considered on top of a handful of other programs.

The recent Security and Fire Safety Report said there haven't been any cars stolen from campus since 2011 and the number of sexual offenses on campus has gone from eight reported in 2011 to five in 2013.

Officers have been wearing body cameras during their patrols, which is part of Plummer's effort to improve community and student relations.

"They don't have them on all the time but if they're going to enforce anything they turn those body cameras on to document the situation," he said.

An Adopt-A-Cop program pairs an officer to a residence hall or Greek life house. Officers meet with residence advisers weekly to figure out the needs of that specific hall.

"Each residence hall is like a city unto itself and experiences different problems through the academic year," Plummer said. "We want to address that and hit those problems before they become major issues."

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