Editorial | More information needed to justify security cameras
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 01:09
The Tufts Department of Public and Environmental Safety (DPES) plans to implement a video security system in the near future on all three Tufts campuses, expanding an already existing program that is currently implemented in Cousens Gym and the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center.
The Daily does not currently consider such a system a valuable allocation of Tufts’ resources, at least on our Medford/Somerville campus. At time of press, the DPES has not provided convincing evidence that video cameras located in public places around campus would effectively deter crime or track down criminals.
An email sent by Kevin Maguire, Tufts’ director of public and environmental safety, to students on Sept. 13 argued that the video security system would protect Tufts community members by pre-empting on-campus crime and allowing public safety personnel to review incidents after the fact.
Yet the email did not include any statistics about the amount of crimes that take place on Tufts’ campus versus those that take place in the surrounding off-campus areas, nor did the email provide a convincing reason why adding video cameras in public areas around our campus would keep members of our community safer.
The majority of alert emails DPES sent out to community members on the Medford/Somerville campus in the past few years described crimes that took place in areas adjacent to campus, not on campus. The proposed surveillance system does not include off-campus crimes in its scope.
DPES has not yet finalized plans for where security cameras will be placed as part of this new plan. As this process moves forward, the Daily urges public safety personnel to only include cameras where it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the well being of Tufts’ community members is in danger.
If no such danger areas exist, then no surveillance cameras should exist on the Medford/Somerville campus. Placing security cameras in public meeting places such as the President’s Lawn, academic quads or potentially the roof of the Tisch Library would make many students uncomfortable, and the existing evidence in support of placing these cameras is insufficient to justify community members being monitored.
The Daily does support preventing harmful crimes in our community and apprehending criminals. At this time and with the current information we have at our disposal, we believe that placing video cameras around campus is not an appropriate way to go about achieving this goal.