Safety first: Why have GVSU’s security cameras taken this long?

Lanthorn Editorial Board

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“We are too big to have a lack of infrastructure in this area… We aren’t investing all this money just to be ahead of the game — we want to catch up to where we need to be,” said Grand Valley Police Capt. Kourosh Khatir. 

As Grand Valley State University prepares to shell out $3 million to add at least 1,000 exterior cameras to its various campuses, several questions should be on the community’s mind. How has campus security been affected by a lack in surveillance and infrastructure? How long has GVSU’s security been behind ‘where it needs to be’? 

This alarming realization that security has been lackluster is even more heightened when considering the massive expansion GVSU has undergone in the last five years. Following the construction of Finkelstein Hall, GVPD increased its presence downtown with two patrolling officers, one working the day shift and the other taking the evening. According to Khatir in an interview with the Lanthorn in February, there is no definitive timeline to fully staff a downtown GVPD unit. But considering the mile range between downtown campuses and buildings, it’s a bit distressing to assume one officer can patrol effectively in that 12 hour shift.

On Feb. 21 a student was robbed near Grand Valley’s Health Campus near Hasting N.E. and Lafayette. While the student didn’t require medical attention, the three hooded men have still not been apprehended. Cases of violence and sexual assault have also been regularly reportedly near GVSU’s Allendale Campus. According to weekly GVPD reports, at least one sexual harassment case was reported each week during the Fall 2018 semester. 

The security increase project will take up to two years to complete and increase coverage on the Allendale Campus from 10 percent to roughly 85. Emphasis will be placed on the exterior of buildings, so camera footage can better identify an assailant attempting to flee campus following an attack. Another element to the project is improving the surveillance infrastructure. Currently, GVSU’s security cameras operate through each individual building’s setup. This means randomly grouped cameras must be accessed through each setup, rather than having a mainframe to access all surveillance video. 

While an increase in patrolling and surveillance may not totally prevent attacks, it could keep them from happening so frequently. As students and the community worry with each GVPD safety alert, it would put many minds at ease to know that the university has the proper security protocols in place. The recent admittance by GVPD that security is not up to par should alarm the GV community, and remind them to be vigilant on their own accord as well.

Hopefully GVPD’s surveillance and infrastructure project will improve campus safety measures and put community anxiety at ease. But will the reality of campus safety ever be know if GVPD is not transparent in the first place?