In August, Columbus State University police will finally be able to secure all campus buildings with the push of a button.
The university is nearing the end of a $300,000 security upgrade project started in 2011. In addition to card scanner updates allowing officials to lock all campus buildings remotely, the upgrade also includes high resolution security cameras capable of capturing license plate numbers and detailed images of potential suspects.
CSU Lt. Jeremy Reddish said the university started the renovation when they noticed the school's growth would quickly outpace security needs. Police also toured other campuses, such as Florida State University, to make sure renovations matched with more sophisticated systems.
"We brought in an outside consultant to take a look and make some recommendations," Reddish said. "Once he completed his audit we took his advice as a road map to where to go in the future with the upgrades."
With funding from the Board of Regents, CSU police were able to replace the existing 320 security cameras with 5-megapixel models that allow monitoring officers to capture remote details in areas where car and apartment break-ins are likely.
"Before university police took over operation of the card system and the camera system, they would put up any gas station quality camera," Reddish said. "And you get what you pay for. Now, if we have to turn to our footage to get an accurate depiction, we can do that."
In addition to the higher resolution cameras, CSU police secured a wireless camera they can deploy within the hour to areas where police need extra monitoring — sometimes to stop break-ins, sometimes to aid with traffic flow.
"Typically with the security camera, the way they transmit is through some sort of wire. The cool thing about this camera is that it's wireless," Reddish said. "If there's stuff happening on the green space in front of the (Chattahoochee) RiverWalk, we can set it up on a building and have it running. "
The university's updated card scanners will allow CSU police to electronically program building locks for holidays, special events and normal business hours remotely.
"It just gives us greater control so we can put electronic locks on all the buildings," Reddish said. "Let's say we want to lock all the buildings on campus at 10 p.m. We can just push a button and lock all the doors. Or, say we have an event on Saturday but the campus is usually closed. We can program that event in and the building it's located in will be open."
The new scanners will also allow police to quickly deter potential burglars and others who wish to enter buildings without authorization, Reddish said.
"We know that some people, like custodians or researchers, may need to enter the buildings after hours, and they'll be able to scan their card and enter," he said. "But if a student tries to get into a building at 2 a.m., the card won't go through because the system knows he's not supposed to be there at that hour. Not only that, the camera near the activated scanner will go straight to our TV."
Reddish said though the department is looking forward to completing the project, more improvement plans are in the work. Reddish next plans to renovate the campus' 54 electronic call boxes, which allow students and faculties to reach police more easily during emergency situations.
The boxes, now painted a dull blue, will be repainted and decorated with CSU police decals, hashtag signs and other colorful markings that make them more noticeable.
"Right now they're solid blue and they don't command attention," Reddish said. "We want students to know where they are and that they can use them."