Eric James, the new chief of police for the University of Nevada, Reno Police Department, is drafting plans to install new security camera technology around campus due to the outdated status of them.
The current software being used for the cameras is around 20 years old and is unreliable for security purposes. There are multiple different systems being used like Panasonic and NewVision.
“The new buildings on campus are good quality cameras, like the Knowledge Center, the Joe Crowley Student Union, Pennington Student Achievement, but the older cameras are not good,” said James. “Some of them will go offline without notice or overheat.”
Part of the problem with the existing cameras is the lack of connectivity between all of them. UNRPD does not have constant access to the camera system as a whole, but university Facilities Services does.
“We monitor and maintain them,” said Mike Averett, senior director of Maintenance Services on campus. “We do not review footage. If there is an incident on campus we will help find the footage, but it is not actively being monitored, that is in UNRPD’s hands.”
According to Averett, the cameras are replaced as they break down. Every camera is reviewed on a weekly basis to see if they are actively working, although there is no replacement program.
“When the cameras were designed and installed, it was not about safety, it was about perimeter security,” James said. “While we seek to keep that in place, the cameras that monitor fields of view, we may look to replace.”
The older buildings towards the south side of campus are reported to have the most outdated security systems according to James. Those buildings include Mack Social Sciences, Laxalt Mineral Engineering and Research Buildings and the Fleischmann Agriculture Building.
“The clairity seems to get better with new cameras,” said Averett. “Some of the cameras we have now you may not be able to see a face very well. At different times of day, it can be difficult to see specifics.”
The biggest crimes seen on campus are hit and runs and stolen property, such as bikes, so installing or upgrading cameras in areas where there is a high volume of those crimes is a priority.
According to the daily crime log, which reports on crimes that have occured within the past 60 days, most hit and runs occur in the Whalen Parking Complex and West Stadium Parking Complex, with four cases already being reported within the last month.
Stolen property, or petit larceny, has been reported 33 times since July 26, 2021. Most of those occurring near the residence halls, such as Sierra Hall and Nye Hall, and some occurring on the south side of campus where cameras are reported to be the most outdated.
“The idea is to find something that can slip behind and use existing cameras,” James said. “That is how we are going to keep costs down. It is all about where we need cameras and what we need them for.”
James is adamant in not involving students in the funding of these cameras. Rather, UNRPD is asking certain divisions to donate money towards the cause.
Averett said the average cost for replacing all of the camera hardware and the system in total would cost around $1.4 million, but it would come with a ten year warranty. He added he believes it is well worth the investment for the safety of the campus.
While students will not have any involvement with funding, James hopes to devise a subcommittee of students to voice their concerns and figure out what is the best fit of cameras and software for the campus.
“We’re seeing a good positive response because I think they see the need for it as well,” said James.
The project is expected to take approximately 18 months, and students will be able to see the effects of this update in 2023.