This spring, UM will be watching. In response to reported assault incidents on campus last spring and this fall, UM administrators have unveiled a plan to spend roughly $125,000 on new cameras and lights to increase safety on campus.
UM Public Safety Director Kenneth Willett says that about $100,000 will initially be spent to install cameras and closed-circuit televisions in 29 locations. Another $25,000 will go toward lighting enhancements at 14 locations around campus, such as near the Urey Lecture Hall or Curry Health Center. The Public Safety Office and the Residence Life Office will contribute about $10,000 each to the project, with other funds being made available through President Dennison’s office, Willett says.
Associate Director of UM Facilities Kevin Krebsbach estimates that the contract for the work should be awarded around Jan. 1, and the cameras and lights should be installed sometime in February.
While these measures, in part, address recent safety concerns, Willett says that the University has been adding new light units each year for the last 12 years. As for the cameras, which are digital, he says, “If we get a report, we can go back to the time and place on the digital recorder and bring the incident up. We can use it in collaboration as evidence for prosecution.”
He confirms that the cameras’ recordings can be shared with the Missoula Police and the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department.
ASUM President Gale Price explains that even though the cameras will record 24 hours a day, they will not necessarily be watched at all times. For example, front desk attendants in dorms “can watch [the monitor] if they want to, but it’s not their primary responsibility,” she says. “The cameras have a dual purpose to be preventative and to help us catch criminals.”
She adds that the plans take into account student privacy, and that cameras will not film inside any dorm rooms.
“I think this [plan] is definitely a piece of the bigger puzzle,” says Price. She says that assessing the need for domestic and sexual assault education on campus remains another important piece to address.