School to replace “out of date” camera system

by Christina Jedra / Beacon Staff • September 4, 2014

The school plans to upgrade its security camera system in the next several months, Emerson Police Chief Robert Smith announced in August. Currently, almost all of Emerson’s security cameras lack recording capability, and the few that do record are only viewed in the case of a potential crime, Smith said.

The school will replace what Smith called out of date cameras — located in places like building exteriors and outside computer labs — with models from a single manufacturer, and Emerson College police will monitor the footage from their dispatch center at 211 Tremont Street, according to Smith. 

The upgrade is a response to a recommendation by a safety committee Smith chaired which was formed shortly after the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. The committee of students, staff, and faculty members reviewed data from an investigation Smith conducted of Boston area college security to compare Emerson security with other local  institutions. 

Smith estimates Emerson currently has over 60 cameras across the campus but will have 85 after the update. The additional cameras will be placed on building exteriors and the field at Rotch Playground in South Boston where Emerson athletics take place, he said in an email. 

“It isn’t a lot when you look at other schools,” he said, noting that Berklee College of Music has about 300 cameras. 

Smith said the ECPD dispatch center currently monitors only a small number of campus cameras, while other cameras are monitored by the staff of the location that requested their installation, such as the Iwasaki Library or Equipment Distribution Center. 

“They have proven to be of limited value in investigations,” he said. 

Smith said the upgraded cameras will be able to record and could be useful in investigating campus crimes.