The number of security cameras on campus has increased as part of a prolonged effort to deter crime, according to a Stony Brook University Senate report.
There are over 1,500 cameras currently installed on campus, and Assistant Chief of Police Eric Olsen stressed their importance.
“Video surveillance enhances the safety of the campus community,” Olsen said. “Time after time video has played a large part in solving crimes all over campus.”
The report also included the annual Clery Report data, which summarizes campus crime over the past year and compares it to years prior. The Clery Act requires that schools “must collect, classify and count crime reports and submit statistics to the U.S. Department of Education,” as well as make the data public.
Recent data showed that crimes are down for the eighth consecutive year.
Popular areas of crime, like burglary and drug arrests, have declined significantly in recent years, according to the 2014 Annual Security and Fire Report. On Stony Brook’s main campus, there were 96 recorded accounts of burglary in 2011 but only 25 in 2013. In that same time span, the number of drug arrests went from 49 to 15.
Though it is hard to conclude a definitive correlation between the increase in cameras and decrease in crime, Olsen said the surveillance plan began in 2007, the first year of declining crime.
“The increase in video surveillance across the campus was a pro-active measure undertaken by the University Police in conjunction with other departments to enhance the security of the entire campus community,” he said. “We continue to expand into areas where we feel the safety of our community would be enhanced.”
Assistant Chief of Police and Director of the Office of Emergency Management Lawrence M. Zacarese said he is confident that the camera systems have helped deter crime.
“There is definitely a link between the number of cameras and the enhanced technology we are using and the number of crimes we are able to successfully investigate, make arrests and close,” Zacarese said.
Zacarese said campus security camera projects are a part of an “ongoing assessment of the general safety and security of campus.” He added that large public universities require high-tech security systems and for Stony Brook UPD, the more cameras, especially in less patrolled areas, the better.
About 200 cameras were on campus in 2007, and Olsen said of the current 1,500 plus cameras, “virtually all of them are on one platform accessible to the University Police.” He also noted that the long time period makes the question of cost difficult to answer.
Zacarese pointed to the university’s features in industry security magazines and at different security conferences to emphasize Stony Brook as a “model university” in the world of security.
“Cameras are just one piece of what I would describe as a robust, multi-modal, physical security system on campus,” Zacarese said. “Our goal is safety for the students, faculty, staff and entire campus community all day, every day.”