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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University November 28, 2005 | Vol. 35 No. 12
Security Is Expanded at Homewood

46 additional cameras set to go up; new patrol service contracted

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Significant progress continues to be made for the enhancement of security at the Homewood campus, an effort that seeks to put Johns Hopkins at the forefront of campus protection nationwide.

In late January, the President's Office and the Homewood deans funded a 15-point security action plan with an initial $2 million and expanded a standing task force into a 26-member Committee on Homewood Safety and Security.

They have now committed an additional $1.9 million to fund 46 more security cameras, on and adjacent to the campus, and a new state-of-the-art security communications center. Also, a new security service provider has been selected to augment the university's own patrol force.

Since March, the university has operated a high-tech closed-circuit TV system that alerts operators when it spots suspicious activity. There are currently 32 cameras in service, mounted on or near residence halls and other university-owned buildings. Areas covered on the west side of North Charles Street, on the Homewood campus proper, include the freshman quadrangle, the Eisenhower Library and the Mattin Center. On the east side of the street, in the neighborhood adjacent to campus, the coverage area runs from 30th Street north to University Parkway.

Edmund Skrodzki, executive director of safety and security at Homewood, said the goal of the security plan is to provide comprehensive and proactive protection to university affiliates and visitors to the campus.

The 46 new cameras, according to Skrodzki, will provide "360-degree coverage" of the perimeter of the campus and boost security at strategic locations, including the Bradford Apartments, Rogers House Sorority, Seton Court, Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith Center, San Martin Center garage and Stony Run and Wyman Park Building parking lots. The installation of the new cameras will begin next month and be completed by April.

For now, the closed-circuit TV system is set up and monitored inside the university's Office of Facilities Management at 3001 Remington Ave. An adjacent space, located in the Plant Operations Service Center, will become the permanent full-scale monitoring center, incorporating the security communications hub that is currently located in Shriver Hall.

The new security communications center will feature computer-aided dispatch and record-management systems. The dispatch system will automate all procedures, providing officers with directions, contact information and special details pertaining to the site of the occurrence--noting, for example, if there are hazardous materials or special-needs students on the premises. The record-management system will archive all cases and provide campus officers with an investigative tool with which to identify crime patterns.

Design plans for the new center, which will be staffed around the clock, will be finalized soon. It is expected to be operational by April.

The benefits of the additional cameras and new communications center, Skrodzki said, will be to increase the level of security service and reduce opportunities for crimes.

"Our primary mission is to offer proactive security service through the prudent use of officers and technology," he said. "These new cameras will enhance our ability to accomplish this mission."

Effective Jan. 1, AlliedBarton Security Services will replace the currently contracted Silver Star Security guards, who now patrol campus and Charles Village and are stationed at various JHU student housing facilities.

A request for proposal went out in July, and AlliedBarton emerged as the vendor of choice based on the company's experience in an academic setting, Skrodzki said, as the firm is currently contracted by more than 70 universities and colleges, including Harvard, Columbia, Temple and the University of Pennsylvania. Skrodzki said AlliedBarton will also be able to provide specific training for officers responsible for campus patrol, bike patrol and the security of residential and other university facilities.

"University campuses create unique challenges to any security or public safety provider," he said. "AlliedBarton's experience and specialized training in a university setting set them apart from other security service companies."

Founded in 1957, AlliedBarton is headquartered in King of Prussia, Pa., and currently provides security services for more than 100 Fortune 500 companies.

The homicides of two students in April 2004 and January 2005 have focused the attention of the Homewood campus community as never before on issues of safety. Among other enhancements, additional guards, including off-duty Baltimore City police officers, have been hired; entrances to student residences have been made more secure; and lighting in the surrounding community has been enhanced.

The total increase of manpower for the security force since January has been 30, which includes the Silver Star and off-duty police officers.

The university also recently created a bimonthly Security Meet and Greet forum where members of the Security Office are available at alternating sites of Levering Hall and Terrace Court Cafe to address students' comments, concerns and questions. The first Meet and Greet was held in September. The next one is at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 13 at the Terrace Court Cafe. Campus Security also meets regularly with members of the Student Council to address security-related questions and concerns.

The crime rate for assaults, robberies and motor vehicle thefts from January to November is down from the same period in 2004.

Skrodzki said that the decline can be attributed to the implementation of the additional security measures.

"The university is on the right track and headed in a very positive direction in terms of security," he said. "But it doesn't end here. We will continue to make adjustments as necessary to further enhance our efforts."


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