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Cameras throughout campus enhance monitoring, safety, police say

The closed camera TV system at Florida Atlantic University has been an asset to officers since its conception, but after the police budget for 2008-2009 remained flat, the value of cameras has increased, university officials say.

About seven years ago, FAU employed advanced technology that included a vast camera network throughout its campuses.

“I am not aware of another institution anywhere that has utilized this technology as well as FAU has,” Deputy Police Chief Keith Totten said.

After substantial budget cuts struck FAU, the police budget stayed at about $4 million, divided between all FAU campuses from St. Lucie County through Broward County. Staffing is set at one officer for every 659 students on Boca Raton campus, one per 255 students in Jupiter and one per 700 students in Port St. Lucie.

In Boca Raton, the main FAU campus, video technology allows officers to view the cameras' image from a computer screen inside his or her patrol vehicle. That provides far greater monitoring than a patrol can accomplish, and it can improve response times should an incident occur, police officials say.

The campus Police Dispatch Center can view every camera at once with numerous large LCD screen monitors that can handle up to 100 site images each.

The majority of the 600 cameras are located on the Boca Raton campus, but all FAU sites utilize the video recording system. The cameras are placed in elevators, dorm, classroom and administrative building entrances, parking lots and parking garages.

“I enjoy the idea of having cameras in the parking garages particularly, but I wonder where the money for them comes from,” said Rebecca Tobias, an FAU senior.

Funding for the camera network did not come out of the police budget, but rather several budgets from throughout FAU, Totten said.

“Funds were provided mainly from auxiliary budgets such as construction, financial affairs and in the case of the parking garages, traffic and parking,” he said.

Individual campus departments also paid to install cameras, which average about $2,500, in areas of importance to their operations.




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