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Posted 6:00 pm
May 7, 2014

Security cameras in Humanities Building removed after catching pyro

Three security cameras that were installed on the first three floors of the Humanities Building have been removed after they served their purpose in identifying an arsonist in more than a year ago.

The UPD funded the camera installation in the Humanities Building as a matter of public safety and to aid in the investigation of arson incidents occurring in the Humanities building in late 2012, according to Deputy Chief Reggie Parson.

A hidden spy camera was affixed near the men’s bathroom on the south end of the 3rd floor of the Humanities Building at SF State on Thursday, April 17. A sign was placed under the camera by someone who noticed it. Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Special to Xpress

 

The cameras were installed by Phase One Systems, for $3,160, which came from the UPD budget.

The UPD budged paid $3,160 for Phase One Systems to install the cameras. According to Parson, a campus department can procure camera installation in an effort to deter or detect theft and the UPD does not need to be notified or approve the installation.

The arson incidents, which prompted the installation of cameras, occurred in the Fall 2012 semester, and involved an individual setting fire to trash cans in the Humanities Building and the  J. Paul Leonard library. According to Griffin, the suspect in one of the incidents used a trash can from a nearby classroom as the source to start the fire.

UPD identified a suspect who was arrested, charged and convicted of three counts of arson related to the Humanities Building fires, according to Griffin.

Even though the cameras still remained in the ceiling after the suspect was convicted, Griffin said they are powered down and disconnected so they are not recording and cannot be viewed live.

While the cameras were in use they were connected to a digital recorder. There was no video footage, no video feed/monitor, and no active/live monitoring of the video camera, according to Parson.

However students like Avery Hastings, an English literature major, don’t feel safer with the addition of cameras.

“There is a greater insecurity knowing that i’m being watched by someone who doesn’t want me to know they are watching me,” said Hastings. “If I’m being watched by an agency I have the right to know about it.”

Hastings is referring to the lack of signage posted by the cameras that alerts students that they are being recorded.

“I feel less safe,” said Barret Wall, English literature major. “It’s suspicious so it makes me feel less ok.”

Recently UPD worked with Phase One Systems and uninstalled all three cameras in the Humanities Building, according to Griffin.