President's Office

Using Technology to Help Keep Our Campus Safe and Secure

May 16, 2014

Ensuring a safe and secure campus the size of California State University, Northridge is similar to caring for a small city. There are many activities on a campus of this size that require constant vigilance to keep students, faculty, staff and visitors protected.

While our University Police Department and our student Matador Patrol safety escort service form the foundation of our campus crime prevention efforts, the assistance of everyone in the community to monitor and report suspicious behavior and criminal acts is an absolute necessity. We all share the responsibility to deter crime, protect property and provide for personal safety.

Technology also plays an important role in helping our University Police maintain campus safety and security. Our Chief of Police, with the assistance and collaboration of several campus partners including Information Technology, Facilities Planning, Physical Plant Management and external consultants, has researched utilizing, on a more effective scale, the use of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) technology to enhance safety and security in public areas of the campus.

During the past 12 years, the development of digital cameras, recorders and software has advanced the use of CCTV to a sophisticated level. Many colleges and universities now utilize this type of technology to assist with enhancing campus community safety and security. We know, from the experiences of other universities, that CCTV technology can detect criminal acts and also deter potential offenders who recognize the elevated risk of apprehension on a campus that employs this technology. Although we have a limited amount of security cameras on our campus currently, our police benefit from those cameras that capture criminal activity and help identify suspects. For these reasons, the time has come for us to increase our efforts in this area.

In determining locations for security camera technology, we considered public locations that are heavily traveled or high traffic areas, exterior entry and exit points on key campus buildings, parking lots and garages, and locations where the campus blue light emergency telephone system are located.

Security camera technology will normally be restricted to areas of general public access. It will not be used to view or record workstations, private offices, desks or cubicles; classrooms or rooms not generally open to the public where students and/or faculty commonly work, study or hold discussions; living areas; or other areas where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists. Exceptions may include areas where cashiering services are performed or money is stored/exchanged, as well as other areas containing valuable equipment or objects such as art collections and laboratories. We have discussed the impact of this technology with our campus unions and reached an agreement on a campus policy that adheres to the public access principle with the exceptions for special situations noted above.

In the coming weeks we will install CCTV technology in our parking lots and garages as the first phase of our campus implementation of this program. These areas have, over the years, been the most common target for vehicular crime.  According to the 2014 Campus Safety and Security Survey conducted by our Department of Police Services, more than 80% of our campus community ranked auto thefts and auto burglaries as crimes that should be given the highest priority by Police Services.  For our police, who currently monitor more than 10,000 cars a day for this purpose, it is a daunting task and a continuing challenge. Utilizing CCTV technology will provide added assistance to deter/reduce these crimes. Later we will implement CCTV in public spaces in our housing community and along our emergency blue light telephone pathways.

Public safety is a top priority at CSUN for the entire campus community. If you have any questions or comments please send them to Chief of Police Anne Glavin. Thank you for your part in ensuring the safety of our campus environment.

Dianne F. Harrison, Ph.D.