Crime is up on college campuses. Drug and alcohol use are too. Mental health issues are on the rise. And social media continues to act as an unwelcome amplifier for threats, misinformation and sometimes dangerous rumors. The result? University public safety officers have their hands full trying to keep their respective campus communities healthy and safe.
Many leaders are working to improve training and increase visibility on campus while building stronger relationships with students and staff. They are also turning to new technologies like body cameras for help. University leaders and state legislatures who hold funding purse strings for schools will want to learn as much as they can about the capabilities of these technologies.
Campus Security Gets a Boost
While the number of reported on-campus crimes had been on the decline between 2009 and 2014, it climbed by 8% between 2014 and 2017, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Another troubling detail: over the 10-year period between 2009 and 2019, the number of reported forcible sex offenses on campus increased by 363%.
“We are seeing a lot of interest from universities, hospitals and other large campus-type settings,” says Raymond Harrison, Utility’s Product Manager for Intelligent Tech. “Campus Public Safety teams are seeing value in new technologies both for everyday use and for large campus events like concerts or football games.”
What do campus officers have to gain from wearing body cameras? For starters, it ensures that any critical incident footage is captured. It can even be instantaneously uploaded to the cloud and live streamed back at HQ. A car crash in a crowded area? A suspicious bag left outside a stadium? Irregular crowd behavior that warrants a response? In every situation, it gives officers a leg up in reacting and responding in the timeliest fashion.
Body camera technology provides much-needed digital evidence, both in the moment and after a highly charged situation has taken place. Footage can then be used to provide feedback to officers that helps them improve over time.
“Body cameras are only the beginning,” Harrison says. “Facial recognition software can help identify potential threats and digital evidence management (DEM) systems help organize data. These are all gaining traction in campus settings.”
One other useful surveillance tool? Drones, which can provide valuable aerial views of a campus, stadium or any kind of mass gathering and enable security to quickly assess and respond.
An important final note in an era where distrust of law enforcement has been on the rise: many new technologies bolster efforts by campus security to be more transparent and accountable.
Campus Police Tech by Utility
Utility makes durable intelligent body cameras and top-notch tools that help with digital evidence management. Contact us to learn more about how our technology can help your public safety office meet the growing needs of your campus community. Contact us to learn more about how our technology can help your public safety office meet the growing needs of your campus community.
For tips on protecting a university campus, watch this episode of Coffee Talk with Chief Jill Lees of Indiana University (Bloomington):
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