CSULB’s parking structures are most targeted locations on campus

Brooke Becher, Staff Writer

Car theft is one of the most frequently committed felonies at Cal State Long Beach, according to the university’s CLERY Report on Crime Statistics; however, parking structures are the most targeted locations on campus and have the least amount of surveillance cameras.

Currently, no cameras are monitoring parking structures two or three. Coverage of parking structure one is limited to external cameras monitoring the three entrances at a downward angle. For those in physical harm, several emergency telephones connected directly to police dispatch are located on each level of every structure, indicated by a blue light.

University Police Sergeant Keith Caires said that there’s more than one finite reason for these blind spots.

“There’s enough churn,” Caires said, in reference to the campus’ ongoing foot traffic from the estimated 30,000 students, 6,000 faculty, staff and employees last fall.

Caires said that the consistent arrival and departure flow of people on campus is prevalent since everyone is on their own schedule, leaving him and his patrol officers some peace of mind knowing that there aren’t a lot of opportunities to be caught completely alone on campus.

“We have a safer community than other surrounding areas,” Caires said.

Caires said that the heart the problem of parking structure surveillance boils down to one thing: money. Taking into consideration all angles and levels required for adequate coverage of a parking structure and the manpower to properly monitor cameras, Caires said that budgeting becomes the bigger issue.

Currently, CSULB’s security system is not monitored around the clock due to lack of funding for labor, however, a dispatcher is set to monitor campus activity 12 hours every academic day, year-round, Caires said.

All-time high rates of criminal activity on campus instigated change in 2005 after 88 motor vehicle thefts were recorded that year, according to CSULB’s CLERY Report on Crime Statistics.

CSULB drafted plans for a camera surveillance system eventually met by a resolution from the Associated Student Inc. in November 2006. Former CSULB President F. King Alexander said in 2008 that the one-million-dollar installment plan included 24-hour surveillance of 37 pan-tilt-zoom security cameras installed throughout campus, with heavy concentration around student parking lots.

Although some students expressed concerns when 40 new cameras where added on campus in 2007, Lt. Scot Willey said via email in 2009 that the although the number of auto thefts dropped from 76 percent in 2008 compared to 2005, it’s impossible to know if the cameras are the main reason for the decrease.

Since the incorporation of the surveillance system in 2007, parking-related crimes, such as auto theft or vandalism, declined. Christina Esperanza, ASI communication coordinator, said in 2008 that CSULB went from having “the second-highest number of motor vehicle thefts in any university in the nation,” to a 91-percent decrease with only eight recorded motor vehicle thefts in 2012.

In 2012, Security Magazine ranked CSULB the 7th “most secure” university in their “Security 500” rankings, according to the Beachcomber. Only 22 colleges and universities from across the nation made the cut, with CSULB being the only four-year California institution to be recognized.

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