Police to install security cameras along Esplanade

Simon Husted

Camera system will not be monitored

The Kent State Police Department plans to install five security cameras near the Esplanade between Kent and Cartwright halls before the end of this semester in an effort to neutralize crime.

“We want to create an environment where criminals feel deterred from committing crime,” Lt. William Buckbee said. “And if — if a crime occurs, we want to have the tools in place to be able to solve those crimes, and solve them quicker.”

The department is still looking over three bids from different surveillance camera manufacturers, but Buckbee said he expects the system of cameras to cost between $20,000 and $25,000. The KSUPD’s budget will absorb the amount.

Exactly where the cameras will be placed hasn’t yet been established, but Buckbee said he expects most of the details to be finalized by next week.

The pathway between Cartwright and Kent halls is the campus’ first site selected for surveillance because it is frequently traveled and, unlike most of the Esplanade, lacks natural surveillance. Buckbee said good natural surveillance is when a person can see whom and what is around him or her at all times.

The hill at the center between Kent and Cartwright halls and the adjacent buildings themselves create a vulnerable spot where muggers and violent offenders could exploit.

Buckbee said once the surveillance cameras are up, they will serve to only record activity, not monitor it. The department lacks the financial resources to buy the equipment and staffing needed to keep cameras monitored around the clock.

Dispatchers and officers are staffed at the department at all times, but monitoring surveillance cameras would require the pay of a separate staff member altogether. Buckbee said the camera recordings will be reviewed after every alleged incident.

Erin Witting and Kaitlyn Coleridge, both sophomore nursing majors, agreed that someone monitoring the area would better deter crime but not enough to warrant the cost for a new staff member’s salary.

“If the students end up having to pay for that one more person’s salary, then heck no,” Coleridge said. “I wouldn’t want to pay someone else to just sit there and watch it.”

Matt Chechak, sophomore finance major, said he sees the surveillance cameras offering a positive effect between the Kent-Cartwright area, but he was disappointed upon learning that no one would be watching over the cameras. He said victims of muggings and attacks will still need to call 911, if they can, before help is sent.

“The cameras will help during investigations but won’t do much to fight against crimes already happening,” Chechak said.

Although the cameras can’t fight against sporadic crime, it doesn’t defeat the purpose of installing surveillance cameras, Buckbee said.

“They’re good technology,” he said. “We’ve solved some crimes because of cameras.”

Last semester, he said the recordings of surveillance cameras, mostly in Rosie’s Diner, solved about four or five crimes. Cameras allow officers to review the incident and get descriptions of what occurred, how it occurred and who were involved.

“It will increase our ability to apprehend those people,” Buckbee said.

Increasing the solvability of crimes helps deter future crimes from happening, he said.

A robbery and a false report of a robbery near Kent Hall could have been solved faster with the aid of surveillance cameras, Buckbee said.

“The cameras could‘ve helped us find the bad guys (in the first crime) and would’ve immediately established the other crime did not occur,” Buckbee said.

As long as the new cameras don’t encounter any technological problems or wireless interference, the police department plans to install more cameras in the future around different areas of the Esplanade.

“And then if we need to branch out from there, we’ll do that,” Buckbee said. “The Esplanade is the focus right now.”

Contact safety reporter Simon Husted at [email protected].