Soon, security cameras will be placed in areas with a high frequency of violent crimes. One such location could be Adams Mall.
The Daily Evergreen Editorial Board supports the installation of cameras, but we have a few concerns.
The U.S. Department of Justice awarded a $300,000 two-year grant titled the Smart Policing Initiative to the Pullman Police Department last fall for the installation of security cameras.
Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins and WSU criminal justice professor Zachary Hays met with The Daily Evergreen Editorial Board Tuesday evening to discuss the grant and cameras.
The installation of these new cameras should provide the community of Pullman, along with WSU students, a sense of security rather than fear. The cameras will protect the students and residents, especially from out-of-town visitors who often treat Pullman like Las Vegas. With the cameras in place, visitors causing trouble will more likely be prosecuted for their crimes.
According to the grant “FAQ” fact sheet released by the Pullman PD, 35 percent of the grant will fund research and analysis for camera community impact. Hays is in charge of the research portion of the grant and said the researchers plan to ask community members and students where they believe the cameras should be installed.
WSU will be piloting the grant program in a college town setting. Jenkins said in the past the surveillance grants have been presented to urban cities such as Baltimore, Md. and Washington, D.C. The grant being awarded to Pullman will potentially provide research that can improve policing tactics in other college settings.
Students do not need to worry about unknowingly being monitored by cameras. Jenkins said there will be signs in all camera areas that identify that the area is under surveillance.
Although overall the cameras will be beneficial, the Video Policing Policy draft released by the Pullman PD could use some improvements.
Police-run cameras have been known to be abused in other cities throughout the country. Though the intentions of the Pullman PD seem like a genuine reach for community safety, the police needs to clearly spell-out how they will prevent the misuse of the cameras.
Though Jenkins indicated that cameras would not be used to scope out minor crimes like minors in possession of alcohol, they should also be aware that any footage captured on the cameras will be viable in a court of law. In case of an off-chance misuse of the cameras by police, students need to be more cautious of their actions while being monitored.
Thankfully Pullman PD could not have made these policy decisions more open to the public. Students and community members have multiple opportunities to ask questions and provide input for the cameras.
“We were sensitive to the issue of privacy concerns,” Jenkins said, “and we want anyone to bring those concerns or any other concerns they have with suggestions on how we can formulate the policy to address those concerns.”
There will be forums hosted Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Pullman City Council Chambers and March 21 at noon in the CUB Lair. Also, Hays said there will be a survey hosted online and a link to the survey will be emailed to some WSU students.
If students have concerns about the camera policy, they should contact the Pullman PD or attend one of the public meeting because once the cameras are installed, they will remain.