Gov. Jay Inslee proposed giving $3.28 million dollars to CWU’s main campus for security enhancements. $1.8 million would go towards installing electronic locking systems on buildings, $622,000 towards a campus-wide video security system and $820,000 towards upgrading the light emergency towers.
A supplemental budget session, where legislators meet for 60 days to review proposals, began on Jan. 13. This is where legislators will decide whether to approve, modify or reject the governor’s proposal.
On Feb. 6, 2019 there were multiple false reports of gunshots and shooters in buildings on campus. According to CWU’s website, that was when the security needs were identified.
“First responders lacked video monitoring systems to verify the information and had no way to lock down automatically,” CWU’s website says.
More than half a million dollars would go towards adding video security on campus. Currently, this asset is only in the SURC. According to CWU’s website, the security system would “provide an additional layer of security at remote areas and those that are hard to patrol.”
CWU Chief of Police Jason Berthon-Koch called the system a “non-monitored” security system.
“We’re not going to have somebody sitting behind a desk watching these monitors 24/7,” Berthon-Koch said.
There are two general scenarios where video cameras will be used: while an emergency is occurring and during a crime investigation.
Berthon-Koch addressed concerns about people not wanting to be monitored or watched while on campus.
“There’s going to be policies and procedures in place that will restrict that,” Berthon-Koch said.
For example, during a criminal investigation, if a police officer wanted to get video footage, they would have to write out a request following “similar standards of a search warrant” according to Berthon-Koch.
Berthon-Koch would then have to sign off on the request in order to take the footage off the system.
The second scenario when the security cameras would be used is when an event is happening. Berthon-Koch suggested using commencement as an example. Having security cameras would allow the police department to monitor commencement more efficiently when it comes to safety.
He mentioned an “incident command” center where safety officials are standing by in case of an incident or emergency.
Having video cameras at the incident command center would allow for one person to watch cameras and talk to those at the scene to be able to make “quicker” and more “strategic” decisions according to Berthon-Koch.
“The cameras are going to provide us another layer of security for our students, faculty and staff,” he said. “I’m excited that we’ve taken the initial step, that it’s in the governor’s budget, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to get it.”
Blue Light Towers
If the proposal is approved, 28 emergency blue light phones would be upgraded. This upgrade includes enabling the towers to become a mass audio notification system.
Berthon-Koch said the audio notifications would be beneficial for those running outside and anybody who’s outside and not paying attention to their phones while being on campus.
Only the newest buildings on campus have key card access according to CWU’s website. Having buildings with key card access and electronically lockable doors allows emergency response teams to lockdown buildings without having to be physically at the building.
Berthon-Koch said events, not just the one in February, revealed the need to be able to lock, and unlock, buildings on campus in the event of an emergency.
“Key card access to buildings is going to allow us to lock buildings down, and-or unlock buildings by my phone,” Berthon-Koch said.
Only certain people will have the ability to lockdown buildings. According to Berthon-Koch, people are only stopped from entering buildings, not exiting buildings, in a lockdown situation.
Berthon-Koch said if approved, once the money is received, it would take about a year for the project to be completed.