Sean Armstrong | Staff Writer
Shootings, robberies and suitcases left in tunnels. The one thing those all have in common is that in the past year they have happened around Duquesne University’s campus.
While many of these events did not directly impact students, the potential harm it could cause to students is pertinent to student and public safety. That is where a proposed plan to bring in more cameras to the city of Pittsburgh for 3.8 million dollars enters the discussion.
“The cameras are needed to go hand in hand with the ShotSpotter system that is currently in some neighborhoods in Zone 5, and to improve surveillance in areas deemed appropriate by law enforcement.” said Sonya Toler of the Pittsburgh Police Department.
The ShotSpotter system notifies police of a shooting. According to the ShotSpotter website, “Nearly eight out of ten gunfire events go unreported to 911. Police cannot respond effectively if unaware of an incident.”
The system does this by using acoustic sensors specifically made to pick up a gun shot. When a gunshot goes off, the sensors pick up the shot then time stamp and triangulate where the shot originated from. This allows experts monitoring feedback from the sensors to validate if indeed what was picked up was in fact a gun shot or something else, like a firecracker.
Once identified, the experts then send a report to police and other emergency dispatchers with crucial information about the where and when the gunshot occurred. This allows authorities to respond to the situation more efficiently and faster than they ordinarily could.
While in theory this all sounds well and good, students on campus are not as optimistic about the added surveillance in the city.
Evan Gick, a sophomore multi-platform journalism major, doesn’t see how this system will stop crime. For Gick, this system seems like only a crime preventative, not a crime fixer. It offers little in the way of help to victims during the criminal act.
“That doesn’t make me feel safe because if somebody is shooting, it doesn’t matter. It’s proactive, not reactive. It doesn’t help me if someone actually pulls a gun on me,” Gick said.
James Joyce, a junior supply chain management major, added that while he was glad they were listening to the police when implementing additional security measures, this may not work out the way many hope.
“Cameras could push crime into other areas rather than eliminate it,” Joyce said.
Public Safety Chief Tom Hart assures students and faculty at Duquesne that more cameras can only help the situation, not hurt it.
“Surveillance cameras can be an invaluable tool-increasing the number of cameras in Pittsburgh can only help police in solving crimes,” he said. “But crime prevention is everybody’s responsibility-not just law enforcement. We remind the Duquesne Unversity campus community to always remain alert and be aware of what is going on around you.”
Hart asks students to let authorities know if anything is amiss.
“If you see anything suspicious, please contact police immediately so that they can properly investigate it. Often, people will see something and not report until after the fact making investigations of crimes much more difficult to solve,” he said.